19 Top Tips for Successful Job Interviews

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Last night we were invited to speak at The AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Northampton & Bedford branch meeting. The Top Tips we shared with the audience went down a storm – so here is a summary of that talk!

“Excellent communication skills” is often cited as a key differentiator when it comes to choosing the right person for a job. But there are other things you need to get across in an interview – such as how well you are suited for the job, your technical competencies, your ability to grow in the job and how well you’re going to fit in with the business or the rest of the team. A bit of thought beforehand goes an awfully long way!

We’ll cover what needs to happen beforehand (the research & planning) and the day of the interview itself in 19 Top Tips:

RESEARCH & PLANNING

Tip 1:  Find out as much as you can about your potential employer and their market-sector as possible. What does their website tell you about them? What can you find out about the business owners and key personnel? Who do you know who works with them or is employed by them?

research

Do some research on your potential employer!

Tip 2:  Pour over the job description and person profile. If you need more detail or you have questions ring and ask for answers before attending. It will show that you have researched and taken an interest. Questions that you can’t find out answers to in advance -keep for the interview.

Tip 3:  Consider your own Strengths and Attributes and indeed your areas for Personal Development. Write them down. How can you get these points over in terms of how they would be of benefit to the potential employer?

Consider these fundamental questions (and how you would respond if asked them):

Why do you want this job, in particular?

What is it that you have to offer that would make you the ideal person in this post? In other words; “What’s your Unique Selling Point?”

How would you answer the question “What are your weaknesses?” It’s not a question that we would advise any interviewer to ask … but they do! So be ready with a response. Wear your heart on your sleeve, be modest but describe a weakness that shouldn’t have an impact on the job you’re going for. (Don’t answer, “My bladder!”)

Tip 4:  As far as negotiating terms is concerned again you need to be well prepared. List all the possible aspects and benefits of the role and align them with what it is you have to offer. Then list them in value order to you and anticipate their value to your future employer. Set your best and worst limits for each of these. Think about your best and worst case scenarios beforehand!

ARRIVAL – AND WAITING

Tip 5:  Your personal profile is exceptionally important. You are being judged from the moment you drive into the car-park, or walk through the door. (In fact assumptions will already have been made from your CV and any telephone calls.) So, think about the messages that the following send out about you: Your vehicle, time-keeping, general composure/demeanour, expression, confidence, attire, shoes, handshake, Ps&Qs, body language, personal hygiene, grooming, posture. The list goes on.

Tip 6:  Arrive at least 5 minutes ahead of time but no more that 15. Walk in confidently. Smile. Announce your name. Make small talk – show an interest in the business. Build rapport with anyone you come in contact with.

Tip 7:  Stay standing. Don’t accept a cup of tea at this stage. Be caught taking an interest in company literature, press cuttings in reception when the interviewer arrives to collect you.

Job Interview

Keep your nerve! Be prepared!

Tip 8:  Take some deep breaths whilst waiting. Calm your nerves. Think positive thoughts. Stand up straight. Look confident!

Tip 9:  Your handshake should be as straight as a die; firm, but not too firm and accompanied by a smile and good eye-contact

THE INTERVIEW ITSELF

Tip 10: Answer questions in terms of what you have achieved. Say “I” rather than “we”. Use action verbs;

Administered, Adjusted, Allocated,  Analysed,  Appraised,  Assessed,  Audited,  Balanced,  Budgeted,  Calculated,  Computed,  Conserved,  Corrected, Determined etc.

Tip 11: Give clear relevant examples of what you have achieved. Speak in the past tense. I’ve done this vs. I’m currently doing this .

Tip 12:  Use strong positive language: “my strengths include…” “I’m good at…” etc.

Tip 13: Avoid “floppy” language: “hopefully, I’ll fit in.” “I’m quite good at…” “Sort of…” etc.

Tip 14: Sit up straight. Smile.  Demonstrate Active Listening; repeat phrases, nod, maintain eye-contact.

Tip 15: Be careful with your body language.  It is easy to send mixed messages.  Keep open – don’t fold arms, cross-legs.

Tip 16: Take the opportunity to ask questions. Prefix questions with statements that indicate that you are interested. “I was reading your business’ statement of corporate responsibility … and wondered how…”

Tip 17” When negotiating use a structured approach: Discuss, Propose, Bargain, Close. See our Negotiation Tips.

Tip 18: Demonstrate that you are keen – without appearing desperate!

Tip 19: FOLLOW UP, even if you are unsuccessful, ask for some feedback. Use that feedback in your preparation for your next interview.

Other Tips Sheets – that can be downloaded FREE from our site – include:

21 Top Tips for Negotiators, 19 Top Tips for Networkers, 26 Top Tips for Presenters


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One Response to “19 Top Tips for Successful Job Interviews”

  1. Holly Says:

    Excellent information!

    I couldn’t agree more that job interviews need careful preparation and planning.
    Could I just add that checking out the interview location in advance is very important and how long it will take to get there.
    I arrived late for an interview once, due to a train being cancelled and it really didn’t go down well!

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