We’re not the first company to write about how to prepare for a job interview - and we certainly won’t be the last. Anyone who has read such an article will know that the usual advice offered is generally pretty standard – research the company, know your resume, prepare some questions to ask etc… However, when attending a job interview, the last thing you want to be is run-of-the-mill.
As if a job interview wasn’t stressful enough, we learn that employers make decisions about job applicants in less than seven minutes (six minutes and 25 seconds, to be precise). Here are seven ways to ensure you make those 385 seconds count – for all the right reasons.
1. Body language
It’s well known that body language is vital in an interview scenario. However, have you ever considered how the body language you adopt before your interview can affect your performance?
Research by social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, reveals how the posture you adopt before an interview can affect the interview outcome by altering how powerful you feel within the interview scenario. Holding a high-power pose before your interview boosts hormonal changes that configure your brain to be more assertive, confident, and optimistic, whereas low power poses (such as folding arms and hunching over) does the opposite.
Before you go into your next interview, prep your mind by adopting a high-power pose for two minutes, such as standing with hands on your hips. This two-minute stance will trigger responses within your brain to help you to feel more powerful, shake off those pre-interview nerves, and shine as soon as you enter the interview room. The key, however, explains Cuddy, is to strike your pose in private prior to the interview, never during.
2. Dress to impress
‘Dressing to impress’ for an interview doesn’t just mean looking smart, it means basing your outfit on the culture of the company you are interviewing with. To make a truly informed outfit choice, research the company’s social media pages to see what employees wear on an average day in the office, and then adopt a smarter version of this attire. The closer that your outfit fits the organization, the quicker you will develop a rapport with your interviewer.
When planning your outfit don’t forget the detail;
Ensure you have clean shoes, a fresh smell, and appropriate hair.
Wear clothes that you have worn at least once before and that you will be comfortable in.
Consult the weather in advance to guide your outfit choice.
3. Record yourself
Professional athletes film themselves prior to key events to optimize their performance - so why not also apply this practice to preparing for an interview? The majority of your interview is, in fact, not assessed on what you say but on the way you say it, so it’s important to ensure your body language portrays you as knowledgeable, engaged, and confident.
Make a recording of yourself responding to a few tricky interview questions, and critically assess your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and tone to reveal areas for improvement. You may hate hearing the sound of your own voice, but this will give you a clear picture of how you come across and what your body language says about you. Practice any improvements you wish to make prior to your interview, to prevent overthinking things when it comes to the main event.
4. Shine like a STAR
If you find yourself in a competency-based interview, you will be expected to give structured answers that demonstrate key skills such as problem-solving, conflict management, team- building etc. When asked a question starting with: ‘Tell me about a time when…’ use the STAR acronym to structure your response and provide the right level of detail. Here’s how it works:
Situation: Set the scene and give some context
Task: Explain what you were required to do
Activity: Clarify what you actually did
Result: Describe how well the situation played out
Prepare a bank of answers that fit this format in advance of your interview to ensure your answers are well articulated and confidently executed.
5. First-name terms
Know the names of your interviewers before you walk through the door. This may seem obvious but it’s something that often gets forgotten among the million and one other things you have running through your mind prior to an interview. Memorize panel members’ names and address them directly during the interview this is proven to help build a stronger rapport and make your interviewers like you more!
6. Fuel up
It’s important to prepare your body from the inside pre-interview. Avoid foods that will give you peaks and troughs of energy directly before your interview, such as caffeine, greasy/ sugary foods, heavy carbs, or sugary drinks.
Instead, you should opt for peak performance foods: blueberries, salmon, oatmeal, and avocado are all considered great brain foods; nuts and yogurt are believed to reduce anxiety; while olive oil, goji berries, and raw foods can all help enhance your problem-solving skills.
7. Shake, rattle and roll…
Finally, the way you greet your interviewer can say a lot about you. But there’s nothing complicated about a handshake… or is there? With the handshake being your first opportunity to impress, you only have one chance to get it right and handshakes that are too clammy, too tight, too limp, too long, or too short are definite no-nos.
For the perfect handshake, you need dry palms, a firm (but not too firm) grip, a sideways (not from above) approach, and a three-shake rule. It should also be accompanied by good eye contact and a winning smile.
Now you have the preparation tips to succeed, all that remains to do is wish you the very best of luck!
If you would like further advice on the techniques outlined in this article, please get in touch.