I hate interviews – who doesn’t right?
With this said, I’ve never had an interview for anything and not been successful (so far anyway)! This has included interviews for jobs, scholarships, colleges and universities. Despite hating every second of the process, I’ve been told that I’m pretty good at them. I thought that it would be helpful to share some of my tactics to help anybody that is struggling with interview nerves or preparation!
1. Do your research.
If any of you have read my blog before, you’ll be aware that I am a total perfectionist and chronic over thinker. Although this does cause me unnecessary stress sometimes, it does also work in my favour. I cannot recommend research enough. I spend hours researching about whatever I am applying for. Learn about the history of what you are applying for: what is it known for, are there any notable facts?
2. Know the role.
Read the job description. Is there anybody you know in a similar role who might be able to give you some insight into their work day? Have a look online if you’re unsure; there’s a wealth of information out there about all sorts of careers.
3. Think about what questions you will be asked:
Are they likely to be scenario based, competency based, value based? Plan out some answers to generic questions such as ‘What could you bring to the role’, ‘What do you think will be expected of you’, ‘What are your strengths/weaknesses’. Think of some likely scenarios you might be asked and what experiences and examples you have had that you can apply.
4. Make a portfolio:
I have taken a portfolio to every interview I’ve been to in the last few years. I include examples of my work, certificates, any published work and feedback from people I have worked with. I strongly recommend doing this to set yourself out from the crowd; everyone I have given a portfolio to has always been very impressed and I know very few people who do the same.
5. Dress smart:
I know this might seem like an obvious one but you’d be surprised how many people turn up to interviews in completely inappropriate clothing. Remember this is your only chance to make a good first impression, and it’s far better to be overdressed than underdressed.
6. Make sure you have all the correct documents:
Many jobs will expect you to have copies of a passport or driving license and some sort of proof of address, and others may also require a DBS certificate or record of vaccinations. Make sure you have this ready in advance; not only does it make the process easier for everyone, it also shows that you are organised.
7. Get a good nights sleep beforehand:
This one is tricky because naturally anxiety can make it hard to sleep, and it might be tempting to have a glass of wine or two to relax the night before. But the importance of being fresh and energetic in the morning should not be underestimated.
8. Have a good breakfast:
Sometimes the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling nervous is eat, but there’s nothing worse then not being able to concentrate because you’re hungry or having a rumbley tummy when you’re trying to answer questions.
9. Role play:
Role playing is awkward for everyone but I always ask people to give me mock questions to answer that I think might come up the interview and it definitely helps reduce my nerves. You can get good feedback from others too if you do this.
10. Prepare questions:
What do you want to know about the post? Think about your own professional development; how is the employer going to support you? What would you like to achieve? The employer will want to sell themselves to you too, so asking questions is important and shows that you are keen.
And lastly…..Relax! I know this is easier said than done and it might feel impossible. There’s a skill taught as part of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy called ‘acting opposite’. This involves thinking about how a person would behave if they were feeling the opposite feeling to the one you are experiencing. So when you feel anxious, act the way somebody relaxed would! Let your shoulders fall, release some of the tension in your body, take calm breaths. Your mind will follow in time.
I’ve been on both sides of the interview panel and remember, as much as you may want a job, they want to fill it too!
I hope this has been helpful and that you will be able to use some of these tips for your next interview. Good luck!