Of course it is very important that you follow all of the usual advice, but to maximise your chances of success, it helps to have something a little more creative and unusual up your sleeve.
To this end we have compiled a few of our favourite lesser-known job interview tips that should help give you an edge over your competitors.
Research Blog Posts
Many businesses spend a huge amount of time, money, and effort building and maintaining a blog, which often forms the backdrop of their digital marketing campaigns. There are a number of benefits that can come from reading some of their posts prior to interview, this should form a major part of your research
- You can learn a lot about their identity as a business from the content that they produce and tone / style of the writing
- You can get a better sense of where they position themselves in their industry by assessing what the purpose / target market of their content is
- You can discover some of the things that are important to them as a business, especially in relation to current affairs.
This can help to give you a clearer and more comprehensive overview of the business, meaning that you are better placed to participate more fully during the interview.
Of course depending on the job that you are applying for, it may transpire that reading these blog posts is of no benefit to you whatsoever, however it is such an easy thing to do that you’d be a fool not to at least give it a go.
Clean up your social media
You would be utterly naive to assume that employers don’t ‘check you out’ online before an interview…they do, and whilst some questionable posts on your social media accounts might not be enough to remove you from the recruitment process entirely, they are hardly what you want a prospective employer’s first impression to be.
At the moment there is a whole ‘movement’ around ‘freedom of expression’ online, and whilst you might try and dress it up as ‘self confident’ or ‘noble’ to leave your Facebook / Twitter / Instagram profiles unaltered for all the world to see, an employer may see it as a reckless display of poor judgement. In short, not what they want in an employee.
We could talk you through each and every social media platform discussing what is and isn’t appropriate in the eyes of an employer…but that would take forever. Suffice to say if you don’t want an employer to see it, remove it or make it private.
Know the answer to ‘Tell me about yourself’
This is often one of the very first questions that an employer will put to you during a job interview, and without prior preparation you risk rambling on for several minutes about nonsense that has little to do with the situation or the job in question.
Bear in mind, this is not redundant small talk, they are asking you this question for a reason; to gain a sense of who you are, early in the interview. Be very aware that the things you choose to tell them will be crucial in the opinion they form of you.
We have an entire article dedicated to answering the question “tell me about yourself” , but if you are strapped for time, here is a little summary of its key points.
- Be prepared – Know precisely what it is you are going to talk about when asked this question; it can often help to recite your story out loud, or get someone help you complete a mock interview
- Be Brief – Remember this is not a spoken autobiography, nor an Oscar acceptance speech; this is a brief and interesting snapshot of what events in your life have led you to at this moment. If you ramble for too long, you risk losing the interest of your audience; a disastrous thing to do so early in the interview.
- Try to inspire – Don’t simply regurgitate what you have written on your CV; the interviewers know all of that already, what they want to hear now is the motivation and drive behind the decisions you have made.
- Don’t Get Personal – The interviewer is not asking, nor are they much interested in, how many brothers and sisters you have, or much else to do with your personal life. This doesn’t mean that they are heartless fiends; it just means that this information is probably irrelevant at this stage of your working relationship. Of course if a particularly significant event has had a major impact on your career trajectory then it’s fine to talk about this, but just make sure that everything you say is completely relevant, and appropriate for an interview situation.
- Know your unique selling point – This is your ‘killer’ quality that will convince the interviewer that you are better for the job than your competitors; make sure that you can back up claims with solid evidence as well.
Have a really good weakness
What is your greatest weakness? This is a favourite question of the interviewer because it creates so much confusion and uncertainty amongst candidates. This should be a favourite question of yours as well, because providing a well considered answer will certainly impress even the most hard-nosed of interviewers.
This is often perceived as a trick-question, intended to get you to reveal some terrible weakness that will immediately discount your from the recruitment process…but it isn’t. The real motivation behind this question is to assess how self-aware you are, and also how honest you are about your shortcomings.
Knowing this, is only half the battle, because you are still faced with quite a complex issue; you want to be honest, but you don’t want to reveal a major skill deficiency.
If you take any scrap of information from this post, please let it be this. Never, ever, EVER, try to dress up a strength as a weakness…this tactic will fail miserably, and you will have utterly failed to answer the question satisfactorily. An example of this would be to say “My greatest weakness is that “I’m too much of a perfectionist”.
A much better approach is to select a weakness that you actually have, identify ways that you have tried to improve your performance in relation to it, and evaluate your success. Of course you should be careful that the skill in question is not an absolute essential for the job that you are applying for i.e. if you are applying for a position of a neurosurgeon, it might not be the best idea to say “I have trouble keeping my hand steady, but I find balancing my elbow on the edge of the operating table to be a great help”.
A much better thing for the surgeon to say would be:
‘I sometimes struggle with replying to emails in a timely manner, but I have installed the email app on my phone so that the alerts remind me to respond to them. I also try to set aside some time during the day, specifically for this purpose. So far that has been working quite well, but I hope to improve this even further moving forward.
Bring examples of your work
Of course, this won’t be possible for all positions, but if you can, it is a really good idea to bring a comprehensive selection of your work. The idea is that, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask to see what you have brought, the very fact that you have them with you suggests a real confidence in what you can produce; a confidence which will create a good impression in the mind of the employer.
If, of course they do ask to see what you have brought, then you have a great opportunity to show-off your skills and abilities and talk them through some of the things that you have done in the past.
Hopefully you have found these little interview tips useful. You might also like to take a look at some of these recent interview related posts.