For many of us, being selected for a job interview brings mixed feelings - on the one hand, you’re elated that you’ve been shortlisted and are excited about the prospect of working for this new organisation, on the other, you’re nervous about attending an interview and potentially letting a golden opportunity slip through your fingers.
But don’t worry, there are things you can do to make the interview process much less terrifying, and in fact you may even come to enjoy job interviews.
Get to grips with your nerves
Nerves are one of the biggest issues most of us face when it comes to job interviews. You heap pressure on yourself and worry about all the negative ‘what if’ scenarios your imagination can conjure. That’s when you need to stop and take a step back.
Put everything in perspective: will your world end if you don’t get this job? Probably not. Will your friends and family think you’re a failure for not making it past the interview? No, they’ll be proud that you were shortlisted. Will there be other jobs? Of course there will.
We all know what it’s like when you really want a job, and we understand how stressful that can make the interview, but no job should ever be the be all and end all of your life.
Most interviews will follow a reasonably standard format, and if you’ve ever been for an interview before you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect. There is lots you can do to prepare for this part of the job-hunting process. Familiarise yourself with the job description and make sure you know exactly how you can tick all of boxes on there.
Read up about the company you want to work for (if you haven’t already). It’s great to be able to show an understanding of what they do and how they do it at the interview stage and it shows that you’re serious about working for them.
Get interview practice by arranging to see a Careers Adviser for a mock interview at the Careers Centre (outside the library, Talbot Campus) or use our online 'Interview Simulator Package'. Ask a friend to practice interviewing you and make sure they mix the questions up each time. They may often be looking for the same information, but questions can be framed in a multitude of ways, so don’t let that throw you.
Think before you speak
When you’re in the interview, take a moment to consider your answer before you deliver it. Once you’ve said something you can’t take it back, so make sure you’ve thought about your answer. A brief moment of quiet before you answer can also give you the chance to compose yourself if you’re feeling nervous.
Ask questions back
Interviewers will normally ask you if you’ve got any questions for them and this is an excellent opportunity to find out anything that may have been missed to do with the role, or if you’ve got a more general question about the employer.
Remember that the interview is just as much an opportunity for you to decide if you’ll fit in with a particular organisation or in a certain role, as it is for them to decide whether they want to employ you. If there’s something you’d like to know before you accept any job offer, make sure you get the answers you need at the interview.
When you’re confronted with a question that you don’t know the answer to in an interview, the temptation is to make something up. The problem with that is, if you get the job, they’re bound to find out that you don’t know everything you claimed at some point, which may well mean you lose the job anyway.
Most interviewers will respect you if you admit that you don’t know the answer to a question. You can even turn this into a positive by explaining that even though you don’t know the answer, you’re keen to learn more about it and develop your skills.
Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to provide more detail or rephrase a question if you’re not sure what they’re asking either. It’s far better to ask for some clarification than to answer a question incorrectly.
Interviewers are people too
Although they may seem intimidating, the people on the interview panel are just the same as you. Be friendly, smile and don’t be afraid to make small talk if the opportunity arises. As well as demonstrating your professional skills, you also want to show them that you’re the kind of person who will fit in with them, and having a friendly chat is often the best way to do just that.