Having an impressive CV will often land you an interview, but it’s not enough to get you the job. Once you’ve got a foot in the door with a prospective employer, it’s up to you to convince them that you’re the right person for the job. Narelle Stefanac, Director of Careers and Employability offers her top tips on how you can set yourself apart from other candidates in an interview situation.
Do your research: it’s important that you know your audience. Not just the background of the company, but the industry in which it is operating – and even the people who are interviewing you. “It never fails to impress me when I meet a candidate who has done their research beyond scanning the job description. Candidates who demonstrate knowledge of the company and its origins, who can speak to what is going on within the industry and who can identify current issues the organisation may be facing will always stand out from the crowd,” Narelle says.
Practice makes perfect: you would ordinarily practice for a speech or presentation, so a job interview should be no different. Research common job interview questions and prepare some responses to these, and also prepare your key talking points in writing. “Candidates often get quite nervous once they are in the interview room – particularly if they are being interviewed by a panel of several people. If you haven’t prepared, it’s easy to get flustered and forget the key things you want to highlight,” Narelle says. By practicing in advance – whether it’s in front of a family member or the mirror – you should be able to comfortably articulate yourself in an interview situation. It might feel awkward but this practice will also make you feel more comfortable with speaking positively about yourself and remembering what it is you want to say, even when the nerves kick in.
Know your strengths: you might not have everything an employer is looking for in terms of experience, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have an opportunity to highlight your strengths and why they are so valuable. “Have a think about your top five strengths. What are the things you want your future employer to know and remember about you? It might include work experience, education and training, or even personality traits. Make sure you are clear on these before going into the interview so you can confidently speak to these strengths when you are asked,” Narelle says.
Stick to the facts: Try and refer to examples of work you have previously undertaken that align with what the company is seeking in an employee. “For example, instead of describing yourself as a strong writer, you might give specific examples of where your writing has been published, awards you have won, and so on. Instead of simply describing yourself as a great manager, give specific examples of teams or projects you have successfully managed,” Narelle says. Presenting objective facts to demonstrate the points you are making will leave a lasting impression.
Be real: interview situations can be nerve wracking, but they don’t have to be. Use it as an opportunity to show your personality – be positive, animated and enthusiastic when talking about your background, experience, and what you hope to achieve in the future. Be articulate and authentic if you want to be remembered. “Likeability is crucial and many employers will end up hiring someone they believe to be the best cultural fit, even if they don’t tick every single box in terms of skills,” Narelle notes.