JDX’s Top 10 Interview Tips
Interviews may feel a little different these days, but we’ve got some top tips to make sure you’re still able to make a lasting impression and nail your job interview!
First impressions count (for everyone you come across in the process!)
Whoever you come across in a business, regardless of who they are, will form some kind of impression about you. Make sure you’re polite, smiley, and dressed to impress! We recommend you dress exactly like you would for an in-person interview. Look smart, feel smart, and be ready for any scenario. Also, it might be worth blurring your background for video interviews, and if not, try to find a plain background. If you need to have your room or study in the background – make sure it’s presentable! Unfortunately, these are the kinds of things that will add to the interviewer’s first impression of you, so worth covering all bases.
Make the most of the ‘tell me about yourself’ question.
This is your chance to really show off and offer something different – you might think that your work experience is totally irrelevant to the job, or that the interviewer doesn’t need to know that you are also a painter, but when an interviewer hires you, they do so because of everything you can bring to the role, not just your academia. Tell them what genuinely interests you, what you care about, what you’ve achieved, what you’ve experienced – try to use these few minutes to really tell them about you. If you do this and they decide that you aren’t right for the role, then perhaps it was for the best – you want to find a role where you can be your true self.
Use the STAR method
Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example (and make sure you use relevant examples!)
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
Prepare behaviour-based questions.
Take the time to think of scenarios which you can use as evidence when backing up your statements. Make sure you’ve got 5-7 scenarios to hand which show times where you have problem solved, communicated well, shown resilience, overcome criticism, sought feedback etc. Then write them down! The more you reflect on real-life experience and honest evidence, the easier you’ll find the answers.
Research the company.
You would be surprised how many people interview for a job at a company they know next to nothing about. Right now, companies are more active than ever online, and there is a huge amount of information available about how they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for the future, highlights, achievements, awards, new joiners, thought leadership – take the time to scroll through their feeds. Not only will this give you a better idea of whether you’re interested in the company and what is has to offer, but it will make it easier for you to ask questions, and to answer any questions they have about the company, for example ‘do you think you share our company values’ – do your research!
Read the job description again, and again!
The job description lays out in black and white what kind of person the company is looking for. Use this job description to prep for the interview – how can you demonstrate that you have the key skills? What evidence can you give? Can you justify any gaps? Study the job description and pitch yourself against it – if you know you are a match for the company, then you’ve got nothing to worry about!
Know your CV inside-out.
It is not uncommon for interviewers to begin the interview by asking you to take them through your CV. Make sure you’re able to do just that – know your employment history (don’t lie!), know your core job roles, key achievements, and think about how the story you are telling – from education, through to work experience, why did you make the choices you made, and why has it led you to where you are now?
Body language – remember to smile!
If you suffer from nerves and want to make sure you come across as calm and confident, then make a conscious note to do so with your body language. Interviewers will pick up on your body language even in today’s virtual environment. Sit up straight, place your hands on your lap or on the desk, and try not to fidget too much. Nerves are natural, and you won’t be perceived badly if you come across as nervous, but your body language has an unconscious impact on your own perception of the situation. Set yourself up for the interview with plenty of time to take deep breaths, drink some water and sit in a strong, confident pose for a few minutes before you are due to speak, and don’t forget to smile! Try to enjoy the experience as much as you can – nervousness is very similar to excitement, so you can actually trick your brain into thinking you are excited. Small things like taking control over your own posture will help you to feel more in control – it’s just one more thing to tick off that you know you did right!
Think about your questions.
Most interviews end with the common question ‘do you have any questions for us?’. Some say no. Some say yes and have clearly googled ‘good questions to ask at the end of an interview’. Before you turn to Google, take a moment to really think about what you genuinely want to know about this company. If they are lucky enough to have you, then you are likely to devote a huge amount of your time and energy into their business – what do you need to know to make sure you are making the right decision? Think about what you value – do you want to know more about the company culture? Any wellbeing initiatives? What is staff retention like? What could you expect to be doing in 5 years from now? How has the company coped during the COVID-19 pandemic? This is your opportunity to get genuine answers from your future colleagues. Remember that you will be an asset to the company and that they will be lucky to have you, so make sure that you are making the right decision by asking good, meaningful questions.
Always follow up after an interview with a thank you email. Keep it brief, and mention that you are looking forward to any next steps. It won’t necessarily differentiate you from other candidates, but not doing so might differentiate you for the wrong reasons.