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How to Improve Your Interview Performance

Your application has been longlisted, then shortlisted, now it’s the moment of truth: the desired yet dreaded job interview.

But how do you make the most of this opportunity?

What about interview jitters?

And, once it’s over, what next?

Our consultants give us the low down on interviews here.

1. So, I’ve got an interview. What should I do now?

First, know your interview beast. Tweet: First, know your interview beast. @Angel_HR_UK #Q&Angel

Interviews come in many shapes and sizes, from the humble one-to-one to the Dragon’s Den presentation, the skype call, and even the social mixer. Knowing what your interview will look like will help prepare you.

One candidate, going for a customer-facing role at a high profile institution, had a first interview in the form of a social mixer. This shows you in action, as it were. So she was professional yet approachable and mingled well with her co-interviewees and potential workmates.

The second interview was a regular desk-based affair. She approached this part a little more formally, now it was time to show her career professionalism and to discuss the role on a more serious level.

Understanding the different interview techniques helped her get that role.

2. How do I prepare for the actual interview Q&A?

Use the person specification and job description as a guide for the types of questions you’ll probably be asked. Saying that, there are stock questions which often come up.

Interview favourites include: Why do you want the job? Or, why do you want to work for this company? What are your skills and weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Why do you want to leave your current job?

Plan your answers and give real life examples. Remember the Stephen King adage ‘show not tell’.
Check out the National Careers Service website for more on likely questions.

3. Any other preparation tips?

My interview tip: Google both the company and yourself. Tweet: First, know your interview beast. @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView

First, research the company before an interview. Take a look at their website, check out their blog, look for news, know their products and services. Show them you’re really interested.

Second, Google yourself. A lot of employers will do it. See what comes up. If there are photos of you lying drunk in a gutter on Facebook you might want to clean up your social media presence.

4. What’s the first thing I should do when I get to the interview?

Obviously, be on time. Check out the interview location – try and do a reccy, if you can. If you’re with an agency your consultant will prime you too.

Print a map, don’t just rely on your phone, things have a way of not working just when you need them.

And, keep in mind an interview starts the moment you step in the building. Or even before if you get lost and call for directions.

I’ve heard of receptionists who are asked to give their opinions on interviewees, so always maintain your composure and be polite to everyone.

5. But I’m so nervous what should I do?

Try to act confidently, even if you don’t feel it! Shaking with fear – however understandable – will probably put interviewers off.

There’s a great TED talk by Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy which describes how body language not only affects how others see us, but also how we see ourselves.

By striking a “power pose” – basically standing confidently with your arms in the air – Amy says you affect the way you feel and may even impact your chance of success!

Obviously this is something you’d do before the interview – check out Amy’s talk here.

6. So, short of holding my arms in the air how can I make a real impression?

As one of many of interviewees you must be memorable for the right reasons. Tweet: As one of many of interviewees you must be memorable for the right reasons. @Angel_HR_UK #Q&Angel

Obviously dress smart. But first impressions go far beyond clothes. Remember to speak clearly and have your “So, tell us about yourself…” patter well honed.

This is your chance to really make an impact so you want to grasp it! Take your Unique Selling Points (USPs) and present them in a kind of short true story format. And, I mean short!

The thing with stories, they provide a kind of emotional and mnemonic hook – in other words they make information – and by association you – more memorable. So, tell a good one!

7. What do I do if I dry up?

I’ve seen people forget their own name at interviews. But really, if you’ve prepared you should be fine. Remember, you can use your notes to prompt you – hopefully not for your name!

Don’t be worried about a silent moment, it’s not a date. It might be tempting to speak fast to hurry the questioning along, but really, just remember to listen and make sure you understand the question before you speak.

8. What if I get a question I hadn’t planned for?

Yep, sometimes interviewers like to throw in a curve ball. I know someone who went for an interview with a law firm and was asked what kind of animal they would be. They could only think of ‘cat’.

But it’s not so much the animal itself the interviewer is interested in but the ability to think on the spot.

Try not to get flummoxed. Remember your job description and person specification are relevant to these questions too. Think of the personality traits they’re looking for and try combining it with your USPs for a great answer.

If you do say ‘cat’ at least have a relevant-to-you reason for it.

“I’d be a cat because I’m great at working on my own initiative, I’m flexible and always bounce back.”

9. So, I made it to the end, what now?

You thought the interview was nerve-wracking but waiting for ‘the call’ can be just as bad!

So, knowing what the interview feedback process looks like should help. Before you leave the interview ask if there are further interview steps and when you may expect to hear back.

It’s good interview etiquette to follow-up with a message of thanks to your interviewers and to confirm your interest in the role.
If you’re applying through an agency speak with your representative consultant about this step – they should help you out.

10. I really want this job. What should I do while I wait?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The process can take a while for a multitude of reasons.

If you happen to snap up another role while you’re waiting for the one you had your heart set on to get back to you then you can use it as leverage in any follow-up contact.

But whether you land the job or not remember to maintain professionalism throughout – people met throughout the interview process are a great source of contacts – and ask for feedback.


As usual, we’d love to hear from you!

Share your questions and insights using the hashtag #Q&Angel

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