8 ways to blow any interview out of the water

March 15, 2019

When it comes to interviewing, it’s actually the small things that make a big difference as to whether or not you end up getting the job. Often it’s the most common-sense, yet easily-forgotten aspects of any interview that candidates forget about…

1. Fail to plan, plan to fail.

You’ve heard it countless times but always put in adequate time to prepare for your interview. Might sound like a given, but many people underestimate the amount of preparation you need to do to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job. Leaving it until 10pm the night before will not be setting you up for the best chance of success (unless working under pressure works for you).

Ensure that you know what structure the interview will take, the names of who you will be interviewed by and the location inside out. Utilise LinkedIn to check out the contacts, practice a variety of interview questions, familiarize yourself with your resume, research the location and parking and organize your attire the day before.

2. Arrive no more than 5 minutes early for your interview.

Arriving more than 5 minutes early for an interview is an inconvenience for your interviewer. I know this from the days where I’d have a jam-packed schedule of 6-8 interviews in a day and every so often, there’d be a candidate who would arrive 30 minutes (sometimes an hour) early. From your perspective, arriving early should demonstrate your enthusiasm and timeliness but in actual fact, it can be seen as showing a disregard for the interviewers busy schedule so it’s an easy mistake to avoid.  

3. Be nice to the receptionist.

Obvious right? No, not to everyone. The amount of times I have received feedback from a hiring manager that a candidate was great in the interview but was rude and impolite to the receptionist or other employees not involved in the interview process. Just be a nice person and not just for the sake of it. You are most likely being watched so avoid popping out for a quick fag break, putting your feet up on the table or speaking loudly on your mobile. Use the waiting time to do some final, mental preparation for the interview and get in the zone.

4. Give a firm handshake, make eye contact and smile.

According to Dr. Albert Mehrabian, non-verbal communication dominates your verbal communication.

Your body language is doing 55% of the talking for you. Then when you do get to talking, 38% of how effectively you appear to be communicating comes from your tone of voice followed by a mere 7% being conveyed by your spoken words. Knowing this, you need to communicate through your body language that you are professional, confident yet approachable; a firm handshake, good eye contact and a smile will do that.

5. Listen to the questions properly.

Nervousness can make even the most seasoned interviewee’s have a meltdown in an interview. You can avoid this by simply allowing the interviewer to finish their question (interruptions are a big no-no) and then taking a moment to actually think about how you want to respond. Sometimes, even if we expect the question, how the answer sounds in our head is not necessarily how it comes out when we try to answer. The best way to avoid this is to have practiced answering a variety of questions out loud to a friend/partner beforehand so you can answer as concisely and articulately as you meant to.

6. Give specific examples and tell a story

When answering interview questions, draw upon your specifically-relevant experience even if they don’t ask you to give an example as they will be expecting you to. “Tell us about a time when…” is a sure fire method many interviewers will use to encourage you to give examples. These are your Behavioural Interviewing techniques. The key here is to tell them a story using your experience. Start with the situation: What was it? For example, there was an urgent project that required your attention. Then, explain the action you took to fix a problem or to complete the project. Finally, conclude with the outcome. What happened? What was the success? How was your success measured? Did you gain feedback from a manager? Stick to this format and you’ll be painting the picture for the interviewer, bringing your experience to life.

7. If asked if you have any questions, ask at least one.

Not only does it show you are genuinely interested in the position, it’s your last ditch attempt to blow the interview out of the water. Solid candidates will ask something that’s not just easily answered by checking out the company website. You could either ask something that gives them an indication of your ambitions such as: “You mentioned that the company is very supportive of professional development and I noticed from your LinkedIn that you were promoted to Senior Manager from Manager in 3 years which is pretty inspiring! I’d also like to be on the path to senior management, is this speed of progression typical? If not, what do I need to do to get there?” You’ve shown you’re thinking long term, you’ve done your research and you’ve even managed to flatter the interviewer. Smooth.

8. Finally, Thank You notes are a nice touch.

Nowadays a well-written, short Thank You note via email can be all you need to seal the deal or at the very least, differentiate yourself from the other candidates in the process. Be sure to have someone review this for you to avoid silly spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. What your basically aiming for here is to leave a final, lasting impression with the interviewer/s. If you were given their business cards, you’ll have their email addresses. It’s imperative that you write a note for every interviewer separately and personalize each one, mentioning one thing that you discussed or that they had highlighted to you in the interview. If you’re working with a recruiter, have them be a second set of eyes for you before sending.

There you have it, 8 sure-fire ways to blow any interview out of the water. If you’d like help with your job search and/or preparing for an interview, I’d be more than happy to help. Drop me an email or visit our Job Search page.