Whether you want to progress your career within your current company, or you are applying to a new job for a new position, having the best interview skills will give you a significant advantage in the interview game. These tips and tricks will give you the confidence you need to answer the toughest questions and dazzle any potential employer in your next job interview.
Strategies to help reduce job interview nerves
Making a great first impression
Needless to say, being punctual throughout all stages of the recruitment process conveys professionalism, respect, and interest. Ten to fifteen minutes is the suggested arrival time before an interview. Being early has many benefits this means more time to relax and look over your notes-all to be ready for when you are called in. Moreover, arriving within the appropriate amount of time before an interview allows for a good first impression.
Tips for ensuring punctuality:
- Plan the route to the interview in advance
- Aim to arrive at the interview location 15 minutes before the scheduled time
- Allow extra time to travel to the interview location
Appearance truly matters
What you wear to your interview can reduce excess nerves and allow you to feel comfortable in a new and, sometimes unfamiliar, environment. Wearing your own outfit and not borrowing one from colleagues, family or friends is fundamental to presenting your confident self. What you want to aim at is authenticity, not portraying a fancier version of yourself.
This may be another axiom, but dressing appropriately is critical, because the interviewer will make their first judgment based on how you look and what you are wearing. Bear in mind, a job interview is always a formal situation. Review the employer’s dress code, if necessary, but most importantly, wear something comfortable and professional. And remember, you can never be too professionally dressed for an interview if you wish to put your best foot forward.
Preparation can help you shine
Most of your nerves before an interview may be anxiety based not knowing what the interviewer is going to ask you. The better you are prepared, the more confident you will appear, and be better equipped to deal with those nerves during an interview. Researching the company and the role you are applying for, plus knowing your CV inside out is key when preparing for possible questions you may be asked.
Being extra prepared can help alleviate stress and anxiety during an interview. It can give you the confidence and knowledge you need to present yourself in the best light possible and make a great impression on the interviewer. It also allows you to focus on the present moment during the interview instead of worrying about what could go wrong. By being well-informed about the company and practising your responses out loud, you can feel ready to handle any question or scenario that may arise during the process.
Virtual interview preparation – easy steps
Whether the interview is virtual, or face-to-face in a new environment, make yourself familiar with your surroundings. For a virtual interview the same steps apply, however instead of planning your route to the interview, ensure you know how to operate and can effectively navigate the platform where the interview is taking place.
Being prepared for your virtual space will demonstrate to your employer that you possess the necessary digital skills, and it is likely to create a more positive impression. Having a good set-up and understanding of the virtual platform can give you an advantage over other candidates who are not as well-prepared.
When answering a question in an interview it’s easy to get lost and go off on an unrelated tangent. Keeping on topic and conveying your answer concisely is an important interview skill. We recommend that you consider the S.T.A.R. model and use it to structure your responses.
Developed by DDI (Development Dimensions International), a global leadership consulting firm, the S.T.A.R. model is a technique that can be used to structure responses to behavioural interview questions. This model helps to provide a clear, concise and logical answer, by breaking down the process into four key elements:
S-Situation – what was the situation or the context? Explain the situation to the interviewer so they can understand the context.
T-Task – what did you have to do? Explain the task that was performed.
A-Action – what actions did you take? Give details about how you handled the situation.
R-Result & Reflection – what was the result, what did you learn, and what would you do differently? Explain to the interviewer what you achieved and how effective this was.
It is a powerful tool for conveying a message or answering a question with compelling communication as it allows you to explain a complex situation logically and simply.
You may also want to review the STAR/AR model. This structure will help you describe a mistake you made in the past while turning the answer into a positive life lesson.
In an interview, you may be asked, for instance, about a particular moment when you felt you were challenged, or possibly, completed an ineffective action alone or with your teammates. This is when you put the STAR/AR model into play:
S: Situation – Explain the situation
T: Task – Explain the task that was performed.
A: Action – Give details about what you or your teammates did in the situation.
R: Result – Describe the consequences, and why the action was ineffective and didn’t follow through.
A: Alternative Action – Discuss what could have been done differently or changed.
R: Alternative Result – Explain how the different actions could have produced a better outcome.
An alternative approach to structuring your responses during a job interview is the CARL model, which encourages reflection on past experiences. This framework involves breaking down your answers into the following components:
C: Context: Briefly describe the context of your experience
A: Action: Explain what actions you took
R: Results: Explain what happened as a result of your actions
L: Learning: Identify what you have learned
The CARL model differs from the STAR and ATAR/AR models in that it places less emphasis on the context of the experience and more on the results and the learning outcomes that were achieved or encountered.
In an interview, the employer is looking to understand your personality, strengths and accomplishments to see if you are expressing the desired characteristics for the role. By using the CARL model and displaying reflection, you will be able to engage critically about your learning experiences, all of which provide value to you in an interview.
You may also want to watch this insightful Ted Talk by Ashley Rizzotto; it is a video we would recommend everyone to see before going for a dream job interview. Ashley discusses how to feel powerful during the process. According to Ashley, these three strategies are fundamental when mastering the art of interviewing.
- Knowing your non-negotiables – Tune into activities or surroundings that bring you joy and explore what is essential to fulfilling your life. What is necessary for your well-being within and outside of your job? What are your key priorities and what will motivate you in this new environment?
- Identifying your strengths – Recall compliments you have received from friends, colleagues and employers. These constitute your authentic strengths, as seen and experienced by others.
- Finding alignment through research – Matching your internal needs with opportunities around you is key. By networking, gathering information and talking to other professionals you will obtain a wider outlook on the environment. Apply the findings to your strengths.
Before an interview, consider your non-negotiables and strengths alongside the job specification – and compare. If this is your dream role, prepare to advocate for yourself. Highlight to your potential employer the importance of that element of your success.
It is vital to keep in mind that when attending a significant job interview, it is essential to adhere to these best practices: arriving on time, grooming yourself well, researching the company and preparing answers in advance, and practising to decrease any nerves. Additionally, it is essential to employ these three alignment strategies to feel confident and in control during the interview.
By following these steps, you will feel more prepared, calm and confident in the interview, which will increase your chances of making a great impression on the interviewer.
Speak to NxtGEN Executive Presence and our partners to increase your chances of establishing a dream career
At NxtGEN Executive Presence, we want to empower you to present your confident SELF in any professional situation.
We have partnered up with Ilaria coaching to help you shine during the interview process. However, once established in the dream position, our Executive Presentation Skills Training will give you the knowledge and practical experience you need to transform your career and develop world-class leadership skills, so reach out to get started.