How to be Great at Interviews

Interviews – are they the barrier to getting yourself the job you want, or the gateway? Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered with our top tips and secrets for being interview-ready for any job.

1. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

It’s been said often, but for good reason. Not only because preparation will make your answers stronger, but it will help you if you’re nervous because you won’t be totally improvising.

Anticipate questions they may ask you based on the job you’re applying to. For service sector roles, typical questions include ‘How would you deal with a difficult customer?’, ‘What are you like working in a team?’ or ‘Do you like to help other people?’.

They may also ask more general questions such as ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘What are your previous experiences in similar roles, if any?’.

Once you’ve thought of some questions, write down notes of your answers.  You can bring them with you to look over beforehand – especially if it’s an early morning interview and your brain is a bit lagged! Don’t worry about memorising them off-by-heart, just know the key points of your responses – you’ll come across much more naturally that way.

Crucially, make sure you’ve done some prior internet research about the company, the role and the venue. What makes this place unique? How do your skills, experiences or interests fit into this role? You can look through the Employer Pages and any Quizzes on the Placed App to help you.

But don’t worry if you don’t know everything – it’s a good look to ask questions on what you’re unsure of!

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2. Remember, interviews are a two-way street

We’ve talked about this one before, but it’s one worth repeating. Don’t forget that you’re also assessing if this workplace is a good fit for you, too.

At the end of the interview, it’s always good to ask questions. Particularly those that will give you a better idea of what working there will be like. For example, you could ask ‘What does the job involve on a day-to-day basis?’, ‘How large is the team?’ or ‘What is your company culture like?’.

The key thing is to ask questions that are genuinely important to you. For example, if you’re looking to develop a career, you could ask ‘What are the opportunities for career progression?’, or if you’re looking for a side job ‘How flexible are the hours?’.

And, yes, you can ask about the pay. (Just maybe save it for near the end!)

Being proactive in asking questions will also impress the employer because it shows that you’re seriously interested in the job. They’ll be glad to see you want to know more! So always try to prepare some questions in advance.

3. Be clear with your selling points!

This is just another way of saying stick to the point and try not to go off track.

A good answer gets straight to the point – whether that’s a skill, an achievement or experience – and adds context and detail afterwards to enhance the point. Try to avoid burying the amazing things you have to say in a long story!

The STAR technique is a helpful way of structuring your answers. It stands for Situation (what was the problem), Task (what did you need to achieve), Action (what did you do to achieve this) and Result (what was the outcome).

We’ve all had bad experiences in previous jobs, so try to turn any negatives into positives. Mistakes are learning experiences, and roles we didn’t enjoy help steer us in better directions!

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4. Do interview for roles you’re not sure about

Even if you’re not enthused by an opportunity, attending any interview is still great practice for future roles that you are excited about. You can always decline if you do end up getting an offer.

Plus, you might be surprised! Speaking face-to-face with an employer can be a much more organic and effective way of getting to know them. Don’t underestimate how much you could learn from the exchange.

You also get the chance to learn more about the working world in general, such as about this industry or role in particular. Maybe you’ll realise you want the same role in a different industry, or the same industry but a different role.

Who knows – you might like the sound of it more than you thought! Or at the very least, you can be certain you’re not interested, rather than assuming.

5. Pay attention to your body language and delivery

I once knew someone who was very relaxed throughout an interview because he didn’t really want the job – he ended up getting an offer because it came across as confidence!

No, we’re not saying to slouch in the chair and expect good news. But we are saying that body language counts. Especially in the service industry, personality is a big factor – employers will be on the lookout for people who are warm, friendly and approachable.

So smile often and let your personality shine! It can be easy to stiffen up during an interview, but try to relax into yourself a little and don’t be afraid to be yourself! Use plenty of eye contact. If it’s a Zoom interview, look at the camera when you give your answers.

Finally, be sure to speak calmly and Slow. Down. Nerves make us naturally speak faster, but a clear delivery will help send your points across and convey confidence.

Go for it and good luck! 🍀