Have you recently submitted a job application and you are waiting for an interview invitation? Whilst some people like taking part in interviews, others can find it an overwhelming experience. The interview process used to be slightly shorter in the past. Nowadays, you may be asked to attend a few rounds before your employer offers you the job. In this article, I shall give you some guidance on how to present yourself well at your next face-to-face interview and help you to receive an exciting job offer.
Preparation is key
Your preparation needs to cover researching the organisation and thinking about possible questions you might be asked. If there is a presentation, you would need to create it in advance and practice the delivery in front of others.
How to feel more relaxed throughout the interview process
The more you can prepare in advance, the more relaxed you might feel. If you are applying for a job which you are very keen to get, you might feel more anxious. Many people find that putting their eggs in more than one basket helps. Do try to apply for more than one vacancy. This will allow you to have more options and to feel calmer.
Prepare to undertake a task on the interview day
You might be asked to complete a few tasks prior to your formal interview conversation. This is all part of the interview process and quite normal. You will have a limited amount of time available for the tasks, normally 30 or 60 minutes. You might be asked to perform some tasks on the computer. These could be similar to the tasks you would be responsible for if working in the actual job.
In a typical interview scenario, you might be asked to complete 3-4 activities, and print out/ save your answers. If you find yourself struggling to finish it all within the given time frame, the best approach is to spend some time on all of them (and not leave any tasks blank).
Your interviewers might assess a range of relevant skills: your computer skills, how you cope under pressure, your organisational abilities, creativity, time management, research skills and communication. At times, there might not be a black-and-white answer to the questions but many possible responses that would all be correct.
Prepare for an in-person presentation
Your recruiters might ask you to prepare a brief presentation prior to the interview and present this to the panel. Your interviewers would want to see how well you have researched the organisation. When preparing for the presentation, you might need to research their competitors, become aware of current trends which impact the sector, and come up with possible solutions to increase revenue.
The presentation would also help your interviewers to assess your communication skills. if you are using PowerPoint presentation slides, do ensure that these are engaging and include lots of visual elements.
Here are some tips to help you create engaging slides:
- Use graphs, charts, data, statistics, and numerical figures to illustrate your points.
- Include some colourful images.
- Add minimal text. People generally find it hard to read and listen at the same time.
- Do avoid reading text from the slides. Instead, speak freely without relying on scripts. Structure it carefully. Start
- with a brief introduction and follow it with the main body. Do not forget to wrap it up with a conclusion.
- Show evidence of research. Draw on resources from credible sources such as company reports and good-quality websites.
- Articulate well and speak slowly. This is especially important if you have an accent and others might need a little time to tune into it.
- Practice in advance. Do run a mock presentation in front of friends or family members and ask them to make some improvement suggestions.
If you would like to be more confident at public speaking, you might find it helpful to join your local Toastmasters group.
Present yourself well during an in-person interview
To prepare for the actual interview conversation, you would need to look at the job description and the job criteria.
What are some of the key skills and capabilities which are required for the position? You might be asked to demonstrate project management skills, the ability to supervise others or to effectively communicate with a range of stakeholders (just to mention a few).
Some of the questions could focus on your past experiences: ‘Tell us about a time when you have managed complex projects’.
Questions could also focus on how you generally approach tasks: ‘How do you prioritise your daily tasks?’ ‘How do you organise your responsibilities?’
You could be asked some ‘what if’ questions: ‘Imagine that you are the new team leader in the department. How would you handle an unexpected challenge?’
You might be asked some general questions about your background, education, hobbies, and any other part of your CV/ cover letter. It is a good idea to read your application materials again before the interview.
Stand out from the other applicants
It is essential that you think carefully about what would help you stand out. Some people, however, find it challenging to come up with any ideas. Do look at your application. Have you got lots of relevant experience working in a similar role? Have you got a unique educational background? Have you done any volunteering in the past, in a relevant field? Do you excel at one of the required skills such as communication or organisation? Do you have a genuine interest in the company and align closely with their values?
Your personality, skills, abilities, values, background, experiences, and knowledge could all contribute to your application standing out. You could also ask a friend/ colleague/ family member to help you brainstorm ideas on how you could differentiate yourself more.
At times, your interview invite might indicate the names of your interviewers. Do take the time to research their background. You could look up their LinkedIn profile (if they have one) and learn about their previous professional experiences.
Further interview tips:
- Tips For Dealing With Pre-Interview Nerves
- What Are Employers Looking For?
- Job Interview Questions – Top 10
- Interview question: What’s your biggest weakness?