Interview Tips: How to win at job interviews
With the recent publication of the 2022 ITAM Review Salary Survey, we thought it would be helpful to sit down with Damian Harris, Global Talent Acquisition Manager at ITAM Review Careers, to get some tips for smashing it in your next interview.
With ITAM salaries continuing to grow year-on-year, and the average salary being $136,227 in the USA and £72,282 in the UK, there is clearly a good reason to climb the corporate ladder or pursue that next challenge. So, without further ado, here are Damian’s top 10 interview tips.
1. Think positive and project positivity
Don’t bring any negative energy into the room, no matter how bad the journey was or how badly you want the job. Nothing will turn the room against you quicker than negativity. Don’t be a complainer and moan about your last/current job or mistakes you’ve made. Bear in mind that negativity doesn’t have to come from the words you say; think about your tone of voice, body language, how you’re sitting, how you’re breathing, eye contact etc. These can all indicate your mood and convey either a poor or positive attitude.
2. Do your research
Job interview 101: make sure you know as much as possible about the company you’re interviewing for before you step into the room. An interviewer may ask you about their company’s reputation, their competitors, its advantages/disadvantages in the marketplace etc. If you can, try and speak to someone in your network who works there or is more familiar with the company so that your preparation is more personal than desk research.
3. Sell yourself
While “selling yourself” might be stating the obvious – it is the raison d’etre of a job interview after all – you should go into every interview with a list of your key selling points in mind. Why are you the best candidate for the job? Try and have at least 3-5 selling points in mind backed with examples that you can talk through. Merely saying you have good communication skills isn’t enough. You need to talk through a situation where your communication skills really shone.
And remember, selling works both ways. Don’t just tell the interviewer why you’re good for the job, but tell them why the job is good for you too. You should be able to explain why you want the job (and more money should never be your answer!). Merely turning up for the interview isn’t enough to convince someone that you want it – if you want that offer you need to make it clear that you’re really, really interested.
4. Anticipate concerns and reservations
Given that there are always more candidates than positions, interviewers look for ways to screen people out. Some of these reasons may seem trivial, but they have to draw the line somewhere, especially for the most competitive roles.
Put yourself in the interviewers’ shoes and try to anticipate the reasons why they might not want to hire you (what experiences or qualifications are you lacking for example). Then prepare your defence. This way the question won’t faze you when you’re in the Hot Seat, and your defence will be far more effective.
5. Revel in the “Tell me about yourself” question (but don’t go on…)
This question can help put you at ease, and often comes at the start of the interview under the guise of small talk. But remember, there is no such thing as small talk in a job interview. Given how many candidates they will be seeing today, you need to make every second count.
While it is important to present yourself as more than a job candidate – after all, you are a fully-functioning person with hobbies and interests outside of work – just don’t spend all your time there. If talking about your interests out of work helps to put you at ease, by all means embrace this part of the discussion, but don’t spend too much time talking about your obscure clock collection or how much you enjoy a good fondue. Bring it back to points that are relevant for the role in question.
6. Be ready for those scenario questions
One of the most common interview questions today is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate the sorts of qualities they want from a candidate. For example you might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, thrived under pressure, turned a bad situation good etc. Try to anticipate the behaviours the company is looking for and prepare examples that you can talk through comfortably.
7. Do you have any questions for me?
Make sure you come to the interview with some intelligent questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company as well as your intent. If the interview is going well you’ll most likely come up with relevant questions during the course of the interview, but you should also have a few questions in your back pocket just in case, such as “What is the best thing about working here?” or “What traits are you looking for from a successful candidate?”
8. Practice makes perfect
While it’s one thing to come to an interview with a list of answers that sound flawless in your head, make sure the interview isn’t the first time you say them out loud. The combination of nerves, the unfamiliar environment, the stressful journey to the interview, what you ate for breakfast etc. will inevitably turn your perfect script into a garbled mess on the day unless you’ve said them out loud many times before. Don’t just practice your answers in front of the mirror either, practice them in real conversations with friends or family to ensure they are as natural and articulate in real life as they sounded in your head.
9. Take the water son
It may sound strange, but if you are offered a drink, accept it. It is not only the polite thing to do (which is important enough by itself), but taking a few sips of water at opportune moments can give you a few extra seconds to think of an answer to a tricky question. As a broader point, it is important to come into the interview refreshed, hydrated and alert, so treat the time before a meeting in the same way you would prepare for a run or other form of exercise – clear you mind, make sure there’s some energy in your system, have some water, etc. And definitely DON’T don’t have a big meal immediately beforehand, unless you want a carb coma to kick in halfway through…
10. Make the most of your recruiter
Last but not least, your recruiter will have insights into the role that cannot be found on the company’s website. Bear in mind they may have spoken with the company multiple times before putting you forward, so make the most of this gold mine. They may also have insights into the personalities you may face in the boardroom for example, or feedback from other interviews, additional background on the role such as how it came about, how it fits in with the company’s strategy etc. And if it’s a replacement role then the circumstances in which the incumbent left could be useful to know. All info is good info right?