One of the biggest obstacles I’ve seen when it comes to people going through the job application process is the dreaded job interview. Having been on both sides of the interview desk myself, I can also say that for the first few times being the interviewer I was nervous myself, so it’s not just the applicant that can experience butterflies in their stomach. From my personal and observed experiences, a lot of this nervousness can be attributed to not knowing what’s going to happen and not knowing what to do. In this post, I’ll give you a few tips and tricks that should help you stand out more against other applicants and alleviate some of those nerves.
When I was younger, I saw the job interview as a one-way conversation where they employer held all the cards and was the be-all and end-all. As time went on, I learnt that the employer doesn’t hold all the cards, you also hold quite a few cards yourself. The employer is looking for someone who can help them perform tasks and solve problems so they can provide a service to their customers. Apart from a pay-day, you’re also probably looking for somewhere you can utilise your skills and help solve problems. So you can see now how you both need each other for each other’s benefit.
How you frame yourself is very important to how confident you feel during the interview. My younger self lacked confidence because I thought the employer held all of the cards and offered all of the value, even though this wasn’t the case. As time went on, I started to see how much value I was providing to the organisations I worked for through my unique skillset (everyone has their own unique skillset, by the way). By the time I landed my last job before becoming self-employed, I knew very well the value I could provide that particular organisation during the application process, and it was my role throughout that process to ensure they did too.
Once you’ve got your mind in the game, so to speak, the next important step is preparing, preparing, preparing. The aim of the job application process for the employer is to find the best person for the job, and your job (pardon the pun) is to convince the employer that you are that person. There are quite a few things you can do to prepare for a job interview that will help demonstrate your suitability for a job. Before we get to that, though I want to emphasize the keyword demonstrate.
When you’re answering questions in the interview, it’s important that you use examples where you’ve achieved something similar in the past. For example, if an employer is asking about a time you handled a difficult situation, tell them a story of when you dealt with a difficult situation and what the outcome was. Much like when you’re writing selection criteria responses, I recommend using the STAR method, which is:
- Situation – the job you were doing (this could also be a volunteer role)
- Task – what you were doing at the time
- Action – the steps you took
- Result – what ended up happening
Now, back to the interview preparation. It goes without saying that you should also dress for the part, research where you’re going so that you’re on time and so forth. Below are some of the most beneficial things you can do to prepare for an interview.
- Research the organisation you’re interviewing with – for example, get to know what their core values are, what is important to them, who their customers are, and what their purpose is
- Prepare some answers to commonly asked questions – these can be researched easily online
- Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer – this shows that you’re interested and gives you an opportunity to learn more about your potential new employer
- Do a role-play of the interview – get someone you know and run through a practice interview beforehand
Now that you’ve got the right mindset and are prepared for the interview, it’s time to get out there and smash it. Just remember, you and the employer are simply having a conversation around how you can help each other out. This means you can also use the interview to determine if that employer is somewhere you actually want to work, which highlights the importance of asking questions. Finally, its not the end of the world if you don’t get the job. It takes practice to get good at anything, interviews included, and if you blow the first few then there are plenty of jobs out there (even during these tough times).