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How to impress at interview

  • Publish Date: Posted over 3 years ago

The jobs market is more competitive than ever, largely due to the impact of coronavirus and its effect on the global economy. With unemployment now estimated at 5%,in the three months to November 2020,and lockdown 3.0 in full swing, making yourself stand out from the crowd will be ever more important.

Some people are inherently good at interviews, some not so much. Practice makes perfect – or at least makes better. What do you need to do to have a better chance of succeeding at interview? Here are ten tips to get you started.

1. Be on time

Sounds like the most obvious thing right? But you’ll be surprised at how many people are even a couple of minutes late for interviews. When you’re interviewing on Zoom, having commuted to your desk from the living room to the spare room there’s no excuse for lateness.

First impressions do count and people’s time is expensive. 

2. Have your tech prepared 

As most interviews are currently online, make sure you know what you’re doing on Zoom/Skype/Teams etc. Not knowing how to unmute your microphone, having half your head cut off on screen or having your washing hung behind you will all give the impression that you’re not prepared and the interview doesn’t mean that much to you. Ask friends or family to do a test run of the tech if you’re unsure of how to use it. It’s a 5-minute bit of practice that will pay dividends.

4. Engage with the interviewer 

What you say is important, how say it is equally as important. Interviewers want to get a sense of you as a person, how you’ll fit into their culture, how switched on you are – not just the skills and experience you have. Try to demonstrate what a great person you are, be engaged, listen, nod, smile – show you’re enthusiastic and that you really want the job.

4. Do your research 

If an interviewer asks you what you know about their company, make sure you’ve done your research. Look at their website, check out their online profiles on LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Find out as much as you can about their business. If you say you don’t know much about them they’ll think you’re not that interested in working with them. Finding out more will also give you an opportunity to think of good questions to ask about their business (more on that later).

5. Answer the questions you’re asked

Practice is great but you also need to be able to think on your feet. To really stand out from the crowd, listen to questions and giving insightful answers based on your own experiences. Being able to demonstrate that your experience fits their needs through actual examples is what they want to hear. Maybe the answer is one they weren’t expecting, one that might just set you apart from the competition.

6. Be a self-starter

What actually is a ‘self-starter’? How do show you are one? Evidence combined with experience that’s how. Demonstrate, through example, how you improved working practices, how you added value to a project? How you made a difference and can make a difference to a new employer.

7. Be an expert

At Allen & York we recruit for a number of specialist roles across the Environment, Energy, Sustainability, Health, Safety & Wellbeing sectors and when we speak to candidates we want to hear they have the experience and expertise to do the job. A safe pair of hands, one who can hit the ground running, with the ability to work independently (remotely in all likelihood currently) will be more appealing than someone who will need a lot of hand holding. Know your areas of expertise, know the challenges of the role you’re interviewing for and sell your skills to the interviewer.

8. Talking of selling your skills…
Sometimes it’s difficult to blow your own trumpet but if you really want the jobs, you’ve got to be prepared with your key selling points. What makes you the best candidate for the position? If you have niche technical skills in a particular area, great, talk about them. Perhaps you are the most organised Project Manager on the planet, fab, have an example prepared of where you added value or generated more revenue. Be interested in the role – ask questions that match your skills so you can highlight them. 

9. Questions, questions
Not having any questions prepared looks like you’re not really committed to the role. Saying “I think you already answered all of my questions” is a bit of a kop out. Having intelligent questions, that demonstrate your knowledge of the company or the role demonstrate you’re serious about the role. In the unlikely event that all of your questions have genuinely been answered, try generic ones like "What does your ideal candidate for this role look like?" or “What’s the best thing about working with XX company?” but really, it’s preferable to have specific questions about the role/company/culture prepared beforehand.

10. A smile and a thank you

You’ve had a really good interview, you had chemistry with the interviewer and all of your answers hit the back of the net. You really want the job. Yes, you should thank the interviewer for their time but before that, if you really want the job, ask them how it went and say you would be really interested in the role and are excited by the opportunity.

If you’re in the job market, with particular focus on jobs in the Environment, Energy, Sustainability, Health, Safety & Wellbeing – both technical and professional services roles (e.g. marketing, HR, finance) then take a look at start your job hunt. If you find something suited to your skills and experience, our recruiters will guide you through the interview process and give you as much help and advice to help you succeed as possible.

Best of luck with your job hunting and interviews!