You have got an important interview coming up. You sit down dutifully to do your research on how to answer in an interview. You browse through endless articles telling you how to answer the same bunch of set questions with minor variations. And guess what — your competitors are too.
How do you make sure that you manage to stand out and convince the employer that you are the one for the role?
Forget the everyman’s wisdom — it will not get you the top job that you want.
Thankfully, we have four bullet-proof tips to ensure that you shine in your interview.
Use your network to showcase your knowledge about the company.
Your interview answers will only be impressive if you have insider’s, non-generic information about the firm. Anyone can say that X stands out because of their reputation — and everyone will. To become an outstanding and memorable candidate, you should connect with the people working at the company and ask them for information. You will be surprised about how eager professionals are to talk about their firm! An exercise in learning about the company will not only serve as stellar proof for your interviewer that you actually care, it will also solidify your passion and commitment to work in for that particular firm. Both are going to be useful in the interview, and both will help you stand out.
Think in terms of achievements to impress the interviewer.
Is there anything that interviewers are more tired of hearing than how excellent your leadership and communication skills are? As Forbes’ Liz Ryan suggests, one of the main mistakes graduates make is failing to prevent their interviewer from “sleepwalking” through your interview. Even though there is a checklist that you need to hit, you cannot afford to be forgettable. So standard self-accolades and instead, think in terms of your best accomplishments across your academic, professional and extracurricular activities. Only bring these to the table. To make your best achievements even more impressive, it is a good idea to put a story behind them, both to place them in context and to make them memorable. To make sure that your experience sinks in with the interviewer, you need to show how your past experience proves — decisively and impressively — that you are a born leader with excellent communication skills, and whatever else the position requires. Be unique and persuasive — and you are bound to be remembered.
Go beyond the STAR to answer competency-based questions.
If you have any experience in interviewing, you know the STAR technique — Situation, Task, Action, Result — as the paradigm of good interview answers. The technique has validity to it because it helps you structure your answers in a clear way. Then again, the majority of candidates are aware of the STAR and end up with stilted, blueprint answers — and that is not what gets you ahead of the crowd. The solution? Spice up your STAR answers by making sure that you concentrate on your achievements. Do not spend too much time on the context or situation. Lay out your task clearly and highlight your approach towards solving the problem. Show how you went an extra mile to solve the problem at hand and emphasise the clear outcome of your actions. Aim to be reflective and concise, and make sure that the achievement needs no further explanation. You will end up with clear, impressive stories for every competency question you are asked, leaving a more than favourable impression on the interviewer.
Mind your self-presentation to convey confidence.
It is easy to say that you should not be nervous in your interviews. No matter how well-prepared you are, you will probably still worry a bit — after all, this is an important moment in your life. Your nerves will partly be managed through preparation — once you hear a question you are well-prepared for, you will relax and start speaking naturally. Another way to manage your nerves is to make sure you present yourself well. Your self-presentation can compensate for nervousness, or even actually calm you down. Make sure that you keep your back straight, maintain eye contact with the interviewer when needed, and avoid fidgeting or touching your hair. Keep your voice clear but not too loud, and keep your pitch lower if you can — clearer, lower tones give an air of confidence even if you lack it. Make sure to speak at a natural pace and not mumble or swallow words. Your interviewer will be trying to see how you would behave in front of a client, and you want to leave them with the best impression possible.