How to ace an interview

Photo credit: handshake via creative commons (pixabay)

Guy Reynolds

Interviews can be scary. You’re going in front of a complete and utter stranger and doing your best to convince them to give you a job. However, they don’t need to be scary, and if you follow these tips, you’ll find interviews far easier.

First impressions are very important in an interview. Different articles give different figures, but I think we can all agree that it doesn’t take very long to form a first impression of someone, and, a lot like Tinder, first impressions are based on your appearance. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a supermodel to do well in interviews, merely present yourself well. Wearing nice clean formal clothes and making sure your hair is in order will do wonders for your chances in interviews.

Posture and carriage are also an important, yet overlooked, part of your first impression. If you walk into an interview with a straight back, shoulders square, head held high, and ready to make some good eye-contact you’re going to find that you make a far better first impression, putting yourself in a stronger position to ace the interview. Standing tall doesn’t only make you look more confident for a good first impression either. By adopting good posture, you will feel more confident, and that confidence will be noticed by whoever is interviewing you. Just make sure you don’t overdo it – there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Good posture isn’t the only little trick you can use to make yourself more self-assured and better equipped to ace an interview. Chewing gum beforehand is a brilliant way to calm yourself down, as your lower brain will associate the chewing motion with that of eating, and our brains are hardwired to associate eating with being safe and calm. Again, don’t over do it, if you turn up to the interview with a bargain bucket of KFC and start eating away, you’ll likely be disappointed but some discreet chewing gum may be able to help calm those pre-interview jitters.

You will obviously want to do your homework on the company and be prepared to detail why you are the best candidate for the job – what you and only you can offer to the company/organisation – but you do not want to prepare a speech, you are not Aragorn outside the Black Gates, after all. Humour aside, rehearsed speeches are often obvious, unless you happen to be Viggo Mortensen, which is highly unlikely. Not only do you want to come across as authentic and natural in your interview, many top employers looking for the very best for their companies, are fond of using curve-ball questions in their interviews; “Describe the colour yellow” and “How many basketballs could you fit on a bus?” are both commonplace examples. These questions are designed to throw a candidate, and if you’re just reeling off a rehearsed speech, questions like these are more than likely to shatter your façade and leave you reeling.

This brings me onto my final point – be yourself. I am aware that that is trite and cliché, but it is a valid point. Don’t treat an interview like an exam; sitting still, facing the front, just answering question after question in a near-frenzy. You are being employed as a person, most likely as a member of a team, and employers want to see that side of you as well. Express your personality and show them how normal you can be – maybe even crack a joke or two, but try to keep it clean.

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