Friday 15 June 2018

Top Tips on How to Navigate a Successful Interview

I've been pretty lucky in life. I have only ever had to navigate myself through two interviews. The first was to get into college, I had the grades so it was all pretty straight forward and this allowed me to get an apprenticeship. The second interview was when I took on a midday supervisor role and because I was already volunteering there, it was all rather informal so I didn't have usual nerves kicking in as I'd already become familiar with the staff and my surroundings.

Fast forward to now. After passing my Level 3 in Supporting and Teaching earlier this year, I have been on the look out for my next challenge, a teaching assistant job. Jobs seem so few and far between lately so when I saw one come up, I knew I had to apply, in my head thinking I probably won't hear anything back. Queue me starting to panic when I got a further phone call asking me to come in for an interview.

I'm not going to lie, I was a mixed bag of emotions by the time I had ended the call. Excitement was definitely there but I couldn't help but be a bit fearful, like a ball of nerves had suddenly gathered in my stomach. The silly thing was though my initial thoughts were, "what am I going to wear?" I've always come across as quite a confident person on the outside but inside I have anxiety issues so I knew that I'd have to prepare for this interview. 

And this is where some of my lovely fellow bloggers have come in handy. I enlisted some of them to give me their advice on what to do both before and during an interview and now I'm able to share with you all their very best tips on just how to navigate a successful interview, as well as including some of my own ideas now that I have come out the other side and lived to tell the tale.


1. Preparation is key

Being prepared will definitely help with any nerves. This could mean thinking about the sort of questions they might ask you, what values do the company have, what successes have they had that you could add value to? Thinking about well though out answers to these questions which allow you to be more confident in your delivery.

Angela said, "Look at the company's website before you go to familiarise yourself with the company. Often random questions will come up like that." 

Raimonda said, "Prepare for difficult questions What are your weaknesses and What did you most dislike or didn’t enjoy at your last job?"

2. Dress for the job but also for comfort

My initial panic was about what to wear, trivial to some but I think what you wear is giving off an impression of the kind of person you are. I opted to have a look at the school's website to see what clothing they normally wore and tried to mirror that whilst keeping my own sense of style too. It's not worth going and buying new clothes for an interview especially if you don't really like them, just think how long you might have to sit in them for.

Ami said, "Wear something that makes YOU feel great. If you feel confident, you’ll look it and it will give you that boost to ace the answers you give too."

Frances said, " Come across as professional - we had someone turn up in jeans for an interview once and it definitely put us off and we didn't hire her."

3. Remain professional at all times

From the moment you walk in you must be thinking about how others will both see you and hear you. Appropriate language needs to be used, i.e. no swearing, try not to use any slang words and be careful how you refer to things like age, race or religion. Don't be overly familiar either, the people interviewing you aren't your friends, try to copy how they are acting with you, it's important that you don't over step the mark.

Gail said, "Be nice to everyone the moment you are in the vicinity of the building. A guy came to interview for a company I worked for once. Had a road rage moment and wasn’t very polite to a guy he encountered in the car park. Turned out it was the MD who was heading up the interview. Awkward to say the least! When I was a PA I was always asked if my first impressions when greeting people that arrived for interviews too."

4. Listen

From the start of the interview, you will be told a lot of information, this could help you during the interview because you will be asked a lot of questions and it is important that you listen. This is a basic skill but it is one that if not used will definitely be noticed.

Kim said, "Look the interviewer(s) in the eye and make sure you smile."

5. Make sure you are careful when answering questions

When being asked questions, the interviewer is not only looking for good answers, they are also looking for your past behaviours, helpful skills, things that you can bring to the work team. 

Ben said, "Really listen to the questions being asked and make sure you answer them rather than trying to avoid them. Be honest and be yourself. Avoid any negativity. Think of a number of successes you’ve had in previous roles with specific examples. E.g. I came up with an idea which saved us money and made us more streamlined."

Jennie said, "If you don't know the answer to a question it's absolutely ok to admit that and to say you would make sure you researched the topic prior to starting the role if offered."

6. Ask questions

This follows on from listening. Don't be afraid to ask questions yourself. By asking questions you are showing an interest in the company and it also shows you if this is a place that you could actually work at too as you will be gaining additional information.

Janet said, "Have a couple of questions ready to ask them at the end. Try to find out how the vacancy arose and what their staff retention is like. Ask about training and supervision. Try to use open ended questions rather than "yes or no" questions so they can describe things in more detail to you."

7. Don't be afraid to be you

I know this slightly contradicts number three but you can remain professional whilst showing off your personality, it's about balance, being able to demonstrate your abilities without coming across too cocky.

Clare said, "When I was interviewing for Nanny jobs I would tell them about the day in the life diaries I make for all my was a journal of our day, what we did, what the children are, any concerns or notes the parents needed to know and a few funny antidotes. One of my old charges is now 22 (I had him from 2.5 years to 7 years) and his Mum still reads his day in the life book and talks to me about it."

Catherine said, "Be honest and courageous! I’ve interviewed people for jobs for over 10 years. Don’t think that because it’s an interview you have to be formal! Show them your personal side. Use examples that may not relate to work related situations. Show them you’re a real person."

8. Be positive

Above all else try to remain positive. Even if you are a bundle of nerves inside, keep smiling, make eye contact and sit up straight because it isn't just about the verbal contact, it is about the non-verbal contact too. Even if you aren't feeling confident you can at least look it.

Amy said, "Remember to breathe! The slower we breathe the calmer we are."

Kate said, "Take a few moments to think about the question and how you want to answer it before you start your reply. The silence feels like a really long time for you, but it isn't really, and you will give a much better answer than saying the first thing."

And hear is a bonus tip for you:

Sinead said, "If you need to take copies of any documents with you, print them out on a slightly different coloured paper. They will stand out in a pile if white print outs at the end of the day." www.

Hopefully all these snippets of advice will help you make your case to the interviewer and will boost your chances of landing that dream job that you want.

1 comment:

  1. Lots of great tips there, thank you for including mine. Fingers crossed for you for a positive outcome.


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