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The Successful Interview Guide

Introduction

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to ‘get lucky’ and always get the job they want? Luck rarely comes in to it, except for the odd occasion which might arise from being in the right place at the right time and having a great opportunity fall into your lap. For the most part though, this won’t be the case which is where learning how to perform a winning interview will help you on your path to getting the job you want.

If you have reached the stage where your CV has gained you an invitation to attend an interview, then you have done well to complete the first part of the interview process (please see our Successful CV Writing guide to gain guidance on writing an impressive CV).  However, never get complacent and over-confident at this point – that’s just the first hurdle! It may have been tough to gain an interview in the first place particularly if you know that competition is fierce for a specific role, but you should never rely on your CV alone and believe that all you have to do now to clinch the job is have a friendly chat with the recruiters! The next stage is definitely more challenging as you now need to live up to the good impression you have made on paper.

The art of a good interview is gaining the balance between sounding natural and unrehearsed but actually having prepared answers to typical questions and ensuring you create the opportunity to sell yourself as best as possible in the short time that you have. Gaining this balance requires commitment, time, and self-belief - surely it’s worth preparing for properly if it’s your career, after all? Describing it as a ‘performance’ is the best way of ensuring your preparation, but not to the point whereby you have learnt your lines and you come across as stiff and unnatural. Try to prepare your answers using bullet points which act as an aide-memoire rather than learning whole paragraphs of text - make up acronyms to help you remember your points if it helps but you want to sound as though you are speaking spontaneously whilst giving thought to your answers. Of course, without taking it literally, you cannot exactly pre-empt every question, but you can certainly predict and plan for many of them and use your material to fit to the particular question being asked.

The most repeated response to individuals’ apprehension about interviews is “I’m not comfortable talking about myself…. I don’t like boasting…. Interviews make me nervous…. I don’t like talking about my achievements” etc. This is the key reason people fail in interviews – interviews are not the time to be modest; confidence and conviction in what you say are essential to make that impact in the one-time opportunity that you have. Of course, the content of what you say matters enormously, but how it is said, is critical in your overall performance. If you have planned well and have prepared some good answers, whether or not you feel confident inside, you want to ensure your nerves appear to be under control and you are able to ‘act’ the role you want to play but not so extreme that you are completely out of character!  However, the point to be made is that it is important to push yourself slightly out of your comfort zone and aim to exude confidence externally - surprisingly, one can follow the other so you can actually result in genuinely feeling confident once you see others responding to that behaviour.

Ultimately, anything worthwhile achieving requires effort, so you should ask yourself whether you are happy with the feedback you have had during interviews. If not, be proactive by focusing on what you can do to improve your approach which may mean breaking out of the negative and destructive self-beliefs. Instead you should focus on your skills, strengths and abilities to sell yourself and convince the recruiter why you are the best person for the job.

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