Ten things to help with your next interview
You get the call or email saying you’ve been invited to an interview and after the initial whoop yasss! A panic sets in.. You know that they think you are good enough to get an interview but how are you going to get through the interview? Your mind races between thinking this was a pity invite and they only invited you to make up the numbers to thinking you’re going to ace it and then berating yourself for being over confident. So how do you channel those nerves in a positive way and how do you create the best impression.? Before you over analyse, grab a cup of tea, stick on your mindfulness app and breathe.. then after doing that for 5 minutes and scoffing a few rich tea biscuits the work can begin.
Plan your route
Know where you are going and get there early, nothing adds to nerves than a last minute dash and panic as you realise where you thought the office was isn’t actually where the office is. I remember years ago merrily walking in the direction of where I knew the office to me only realising I’d read google maps wrong and was miles away from where I should be. Panic set in and I arrived looking late looking flustered and all over the place.. which completely threw me off the interview and I didn’t get the job.. lesson learned. So plan your route, even do a recce and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Also think about when you are at your best if you are given an interview slot. I’ve had to dash from work at the end of the day to interview and my mind is consumed with the work that I am doing, so for me I much prefer an interview at the start of the day when I am fresh and it also gets the interview out of the way and I can carry on with my day. Nothing worse than having that dread that lasts throughout the day as you anticipate that 6pm interview. Sometimes these things can’t be helped but if you have a choice then pick when best suits you.
Do some research
Do as much research as you can about the company and the people that you are interviewing with. Don’t go overboard and arrive with a massive file full of end of year reports and every press cutting there has been since 1982 about the company. Also don’t overstalk on facebook, “You look like you had an amazing time at Glastonbury”, respect boundaries and know the companies output. Talk passionately about the programmes that they make and that’s half the battle. Enthusiasm is contagious and you might think you are being honest by telling us that you “ don’t really know anything about the company”, or “I haven’t had time to watch the programme” but to the interviewer it really looks like you can’t be bothered. Also still remember to answer the questions, you can be so proud of the fact that you’ve learnt all this stuff about the company that you forget to answer and simply regurgitate facts and statistics about the place.
Take your time
In an interview you can feel like it’s a race and you need to get everything that you want to say out as quickly as possible. Nerves can cause us to babble on and not focus or can alternatively cause us to clam up and struggle to get the words out. Remember it is not a race and it’s ok to take your time. You can feel that you are being judged if you don’t answer straight away but seriously those few seconds that may seem like hours to you, feel insignificant to the interviewer. It’s ok to ask them to repeat the question and to also seek clarification as well. If you feel the urge to panic and you miss a question ask them to repeat it, take a breath, sip on some water and then answer. A few seconds to compose yourself can make a real difference.
Remember it’s a two way thing
An interview is always a two way thing, it’s not just you being judged and sussed out but it is also an opportunity for you to suss out the company and see if it is the right company for you. Trust your gut instincts as sometimes the company isn’t the right company for you. This can be tricky when you are starting your career and you want to get that job but weigh it out and if it’s a short term role but not the right company think about where this opportunity could lead you. It’s a fine balance as you don’t want to appear as if you are interviewing the interviewers but it is fine for you to ask questions and find out more about the company.
Do have some prepared questions, ask people why they like to work there, questions about the culture and also what they expect from the person that they are hiring. You’ll find a lot about the company and the culture and the way people manage people and this will be effective when it comes to making an informed decision. It also helps to focus you in your interview preparation.
If having short notes about what you’ve done or what you want to say makes you feel more comfortable then take them with you. Do ask at the start of the interview though if the panel are fine with you having your notes out. If they are not then you need to respect that decision, but generally most interviewers would be fine with this. Again don’t have folders full of notes just have short headlines on card for example that can help you come up with great answers and make you really think about the experience that you’ve got. Also don’t use them for the sake of using them, make sure your answers and your notes are relevant to the questions that are being asked.
Prepare some examples of your work
Sometimes candidates bring along examples of their work, whether that be programme ideas or films that you have worked on. This can be helpful sometimes when you can’t fully articulate what you’ve done. Some panels may not want to see these to ensure fairness with other candidates (who they’ve not asked to provide examples) but they will undoubtedly be impressed that you bought these along. Also what a better way to articulate what you’ve done.
Stop worrying about other candidates
Too often we think about things that we have no control over and I’ve seen this with lots of people, where there confidence can be drained by a perception of how good the other candidates are. In group assessments, candidates can chat and sometimes the most confident people or the people with the most experience can make you feel like a fraud to be there. You need to ignore that, people don’t invite people to interviews if they don’t think they are capable of doing the job. So always remember you are in the running, you stand a chance and you have as much right to be there as anyone else.. act like the boss that you know you one day will become… be quietly confident and know and make sure that you give it your best shot.
Don’t be influenced by other people
That friend that passively aggressively tells you it will be tough to get that job, your parents who believe you should be an accountant and the love of your life sows seeds of doubt about your ability to get the job.. those voices can play over and over again in your head. So much so that by the time you even arrive at the interview that you already firmly believe that you won’t get the job. Voices can crop up in the middle of the interview “listen to yourself, you don’t know what you are talking about” so when you hear those voices, politely or not that politely tell them to go away.. It’s all about you!
Remember to smile and be enthusiastic
Nerves can show on our face and our usual sunny dispositions can be transformed into a scowl without us even realising. When we are feeling stressed and nerves are getting to us, then just smile and try and be enthusiastic and polite. It is really simple but think if you were interviewing a person, how would you want them to behave and mirror that behaviour (as long as it’s positive)!
Remember everything is a learning curve some interviews may lead to jobs and some won’t the important thing is to keep on going.. eventually everything will fall into place!