The 7 Core Skills for Interview
According to industry surveys, 66% of workers between 18 and 34 are currently in the job market looking for opportunities. If you've applied for work before, you're probably aware that looking for and securing a job is not as easy as it seems. Besides perfectly refining your CV, you must prepare for a job interview and impress your potential future employers. Although there's no single recipe for success at job interviews, you can increase your chances of getting an offer by developing these seven skills that will best prepare you for that moment.
The art of listening is an essential skill in any walk of life and never more so when you are sitting in front of an interview panel. You need to understand the question in front of you. Some of the questions you can expect at most job interviews are: "Tell me about yourself", "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and "Why do you want to work with us?" If you're prepared to answer these questions and what the interview is getting at you can lessen your anxiety during the actual meeting and ensure that your answers make sense and are coherent. You can search for tips online on appropriately answering each type of question to guarantee that you satisfy their query.
Logically, planned and well thought out answer that connects your experiences and skills with what the employer is seeking. That is a coherent answer. If you have thoroughly reviewed the requirements and scope of the job and connected the tasks and responsibilities to your previous roles or transferable skills you are more likely to produce a coherent answer. This simply is taking the time and effort to look at the role, person requirements with who you are and what you have achieved. You need to be that best match for the company. In addition it is good practice to research the reputation and recent projects of the company you're applying for. Aside from gaining a favourable first impression, you'll get to understand the company's mission and vision, allowing you to know your values align to theirs.
Building rapport is an essential skill in life when you meet a stranger or someone you need to connect with for the first time. It's not easy but whilst the interviewer will want to put you at easy early on in the interview, by perhaps asking some light questions, you also want to be building rapport. It simple steps this can be done by smiling, nodding, leading forward slightly, making good eye contact with who ever is speaking. It's not a difficult task but it might surprise you how many people fail to do it. Gratitude and appreciation are all keys to building rapport as you are valuing their time to listen to you and to give you this opportunity. Who knows when you are the only one who actually said thankyou at the end. That could be enough to put you ahead of another candidate. If you are able to do some deep research on an interviewer it may be you have some common ground or interest and if the occasion arises you might be able to chat about this. Take care! This can be a risky strategy if you are a novice in this area and they are an expert. You could be made to look foolish.
Answering a question without fully understanding what the interview is going to undermine your ability to land the job. Asking clarification questions is acceptable in the interview process so long as you don't ask it for every moment. For example, "So what you are asking is..." is a method you could use. It also demonstrates that you heard the interviewer but want to clarify what it is they are getting at.
Towards the end of the meeting, your interviewer will likely ask you if you have any questions. Although they're not mandatory, they help you look enthusiastic and engaged with the prospect of working with them. It also allows you to clarify anything about the job that seems vague to you. You can ask about what's a day like working in the company or ask them about the organisation's work culture. Remember to avoid asking questions that focus too much on what the organisation can do for you. And unless they initiate the question, save your queries about compensation when you get the offer.
The ability to be concise in the interview will enable you to waffle through answers and demonstrate not only your grasp of the question but that you can communicate your points effectively. Waffling or digressing is not only a waste of time but demonstrates you haven't grasped the question or convinced the interviewer that you know what you are talking about. A short answer should take you around 30 seconds to complete. Extended questions that may have multiple elements would require an answer that might take 1 - 2 minutes. Any longer and your interviewer will switch off. Remember an interviewer knows the kind of answer they are looking for. So if you haven't given them what they want, they will quickly be thinking about either the next question or the next candidate!
A healthy awareness of your environment and yourself will enable you to better perform at an interview. If you are nervous you will most likely speak quickly, make side remarks or comments, lose eye contact or make any other manner of mistakes. So calming yourself, being present in the moment is important to you effectively performing. You also need to read the room. How are the interviewers coming across to you? Are the warm, distance, engaging, formal or informal. If the environment feels formal and serious, don't try and lighten it with a remark or joke, take the engagement in the same manner.
Lastly, be confident throughout the interview since your confidence can let potential employers know you're equally confident in what you can bring to the company. Some companies may also view your confidence as an asset to the business, especially if the role you're applying for calls for it. However, don't be overly sure of yourself. An article on being overconfident shared that those who overestimated their abilities the most were the ones who performed the worst when it came to actual attainment. To balance your confidence and humility, avoid saying "I" too much when discussing your achievements. Use "we" instead whenever it is applicable.
It's not easy to tell when you'll get the job from your interview alone. But as we discussed in our article on improving your employability, it's best to maintain a positive outlook and be open to future opportunities, even if you don't get a job offer right away. Check out this article also on mastering a virtual interview and see our poster of the same.
Written by Faith Aliana Clarkson (freelance writer) and Russ Banner (Director- Career Guidance Charts)
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I have 10 years experience of working in careers guidance and am director of CGC. We publish career infographics for schools and colleges