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10 Ways to Rock an Interview

If you’ve been following our last two articles by now you’ll have updated your CV and your new and improved LinkedIn profile will have got you noticed.

Now you’ve secured an interview – well done! So what can you do to make sure you perform at your very best and bag the job? We’ve got 10 top tips for you that will help you land your next job:

1. Dress for success

Very early in my career, I heard the saying “dress for where you want to be – not where you are”. It’s something that has stuck with me and it's definitely applicable at interview stage. Regardless of the job you’re applying for, it’s best to err on the side of smart and polished. Even if the job you’re applying for is in an industry where converse and ripped jeans are the in-thing you can mirror the dress code - but dress a little better.

Regardless of your budget, wear something that makes you feel and look good. Aim for polished professional rather than sexy – so check hem and necklines. Make sure your heels aren’t scuffed, give shoes a polish and make sure your nails aren’t chipped. Everything about you should shout professional.

2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

The technique of ‘winging it’ isn’t good enough. Under pressure, the most confident of us can crumble. However, there are some simple things you can do to set yourself up for success. Research the company and find out key facts about them. Look up their website, or if a contact name has been given – call them up to discuss the role and the company. This will immediately make you stand out from the other candidates. There are standard interview questions that will usually get asked – these include:

  • Tell me about yourself…
  • Why do you want this role?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weak points?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What’s the most challenging thing you’ve had to deal with at work and what did you do?

Practice your responses to these questions. Say them aloud rather than just in your head – this will help you remember key phrases when you’re under pressure. Identify 3 or 4 big projects you’ve worked on and make a list of skills you had to demonstrate during them e.g. managing stakeholders, working to tight deadlines. You can then use these to give specific examples when answering questions. Ask how many people will be interviewing you, what their roles are, and what the focus of the interview will be – e.g. is it a technical interview, or a more general ‘getting to know you’ one. This will help you prepare properly.

Have some questions prepared that you’d like to ask e.g. about the culture, the team you’d be working with, training opportunities etc.

3. Create a good impression

Make sure you allow plenty of time to get there so you can compose yourself beforehand. Think about every interaction you have, from the person on reception, to whoever meets you to take you to the interview. Smile, give a good firm handshake and make conversation.

4. Manage your nerves

The fact that you look the part, have prepared and arrived in plenty of time will all help. However, for an instant dose of confidence, you MUST watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on Power Posing. Striking a pose (in the privacy of your car or the toilets) will help you feel, look and act more confident (trust us – it works.)

5. Phone interviews

Some people find the prospect of a phone interview more nerve-wracking than a face to face one. The same rules apply – do your research, ask questions about the format of the interview and prepare your responses. We’d also recommend that you:

  • Dress smartly. Even though no-one can see you (unless you’re on skype) it will make you feel more confident.
  • Find a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted or have background noise.
  • Try standing up. It will increase the amount of energy that you convey in your voice.

6. Answer the question

When we’re nervous we have a tendency to waffle. Get to the point. Don’t make the interviewer wait for your answer.

For example - Interviewer: Can you tell me one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered at work? You: Well there was this project that I was working on a couple of years ago, I had to gather feedback from lots of different stakeholders around the business, and people were located all across Europe….I had to….(at this point the interviewer's mind is starting to wander and you’re in danger of losing them.)

Versus - Interviewer: Can you tell me one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered at work? You: One of the biggest challenges was when I had to manage multiple stakeholders across multiple European locations for the integration of a new IT system (now you’ve got their attention and given them exactly what they want). What was most challenging was (give a couple of examples). The approach I took was to ... (share a couple of actions you took.)

7. Check you’ve answered it

If the interviewer looks (or sounds) confused after you’ve answered, check by asking ‘does that answer your question?’ Not only does this show confidence it also gives them the chance to seek clarification and gives you the chance to be more specific.

8. Take your time

Rather than blurting out an answer take a few seconds to compose your response. It’s also flattering for the interviewer if you say ‘that’s a great question, let me just take a moment to think of the best example.’

9. Use pauses

When we’re nervous we often use filler words such as ‘em’, ‘um’, ‘okay’, ‘so’. The impact of using words like these is that they detract from your credibility. Slow down and use pauses instead.

10. Have a strong finish

Leave a lasting impression by reminding them of your key attributes (that are related to the role) e.g. ‘I hope I’ve demonstrated my ability to think big picture, manage multiple projects and work to tight deadlines’. You could also ask 'what else would you like to know about me and my experience to ensure I'm considered for this role?'

At Mumager we support working mums. Contact info@mumager.ie for more information: If you have an issue or a question then we’d love to hear from you. You can also join the conversation with Mumager on Twitter or Facebook.


About the Author

Mumager can give advice on everything related to going back to work after maternity leave. Whether it’s understanding your entitlements or how to deal with a difficult boss please ask us.

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