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Top Tips To Get Your Dream Job At Your Next Job Interview

Updated on May 15, 2014

Improve Your Interview Skills

Getting a new job can be a challenge at the best of times; here are my top tips for improving your job interview skills, getting that initial job interview and maximising the chances of converting an interview into a job.

Secure a job interview

Before you even think about getting your dream job you must get the interview. It is key to ensure that you have a great CV and to ensure it gets in front of the right people. The key here is to really push your strengths and not even mention your weaknesses. Ensure that it is well presented, a CV that is eye catching is much more likely to get read and invited to a job interview. Keep it reasonably short, no more than 2 pages and rewrite it for every job you apply for, tailoring the CV for the specific criteria of the job itself.

Also don’t just send it off your CV randomly. Search for real job opportunities and send your CV to individuals rather than generic email addresses if possible. Also, many jobs are advertised through social networking sites, particularly LinkedIn. So ensure you are registered and fill in your profile effectively. Remember you are selling yourself.

Use linkedin to look for jobs
Use linkedin to look for jobs

Use your network

It’s often said that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Never is this more true than when trying to get your dream job. If you have a personal relationship with someone who is hiring it can act as a great foot in the door. It may only get you an interview, but in many cases that can be the hardest part. You can increase your network by attending networking events, joining LinkedIn, volunteering for local business fundraisers. The bigger your network, the better your chance of that initial introduction.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

A cliché I know, but never is preparation and research more important than going for a job interview. A key interview skill is to always prepare for the often first question, which is “what do you know about the company?” Don’t just churn out the same old rubbish that they hear from everyone which has been taken straight from the company website’s homepage. Find out about what markets they operate in and which markets they are moving in to, what was their share price that morning? Who is the CEO? What are their main products? Who are the main competitors?

Find 10 key things about the company and write them down on a piece of paper, read them at every opportunity and commit them to memory. Also practice reading them out from memory, being able to repeat them in your head can be very different to repeating them out loud to other people. The more interest you show in the job and the company the more you set yourself apart from the rest. The more you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position, the more they will start to imagine you in that role.

A good first impression is key
A good first impression is key

First impression is key.

In many cases the interviewers will decide whether they will offer you the job or not in the first five minutes. This is based entirely on your first impression. Improving this first impression is an important interview skill to learn. How you look, how you introduce yourself, how you speak, your body language, how you have prepared etc. So ensure you do the following:

· Turn up on time, 10 minutes early if possible.

· Dress well, shower and shave. Make sure you go to the toilet before the interview.

· Practice your opening statements and what you know about the company, if you can start confidently it will carry you through the interview in a confident fashion, start badly and it can be difficult to get back on track.

· Think about your body language, don’t slouch and always keep eye contact.

Remeber the STAR technique when answering questions
Remeber the STAR technique when answering questions

Prepare answers to questions

Ultimately you can never really be sure exactly what you are going to be asked at a job interview; however you can get some pretty good ideas. The questions are generally designed to assess how good you are at doing your job and will test you on specific elements of what you will be expected to do in your potential role and how you have behaved in certain situations. These could include “what do you know about Risk management?”, “tell me about the projects you have managed?”, “How do you implement a gate process effectively?” or “when have you had to deal with a difficult person?”

When you get invited for interview you should be provided with a competency list detailing what they are looking for in the role. A key interview skill is to be able to translate this job description into competencies that they could ask you about. Aim to identify an example for how you have demonstrated each competency. Always use real life examples or you could be quickly found out. Concentrate on what you did rather than the team, so refer to the “I” rather than the “we”.

When answering the question always follow the STAR technique:

· Situation – Describe the background

· Tasks – what did you have to do

· Actions – what actions you took

· Result – what was the outcome?

Practicing and remembering the STAR technique is an important interview skill that takes a while to embed, but once you start using it you will realise how powerful it can be. If you are really struggling ask if you can come back to the question at a later point, generally the interviewers will be happy to do this and won’t mark you down.

Always ask questions to show your interest
Always ask questions to show your interest

Ask intelligent questions

Asking questions really helps to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and also allows you to find out more about the role you are applying for. You will be usually be given an opportunity to answer questions at the end of your interview so ensure you have prepared some good ones. A simple rule is never ask anything that you can find out on Google. So the questions should be specific to the role or aim to demonstrate your understanding and interest in the company. So you could ask about career progression, who you might report to or whether they will be expanding into the new markets.

Concentrate on your strengths
Concentrate on your strengths

Sell yourself

This is one of the most difficult interview skills to develop, avoiding any negative language and concentrating only on the positive can be difficult at first, however, this could well be your only opportunity to sell yourself so don’t be shy. Emphasize you strengths, but always ensure you can back up what you are saying with an example. Simply saying I am a great Project manager is meaningless, however saying you are a great project manager because you have managed numerous large projects such as….. and all have come in under budget and within schedule demonstrates you know what you are talking about. If you don’t always have an example be honest but say that it is an area that you would like to develop in.

Don't ramble.
Don't ramble.

Don’t talk too much

Another interview skill that takes practice is to keep your answers concise. It is very easy to ramble in a job interview, particularly when you are nervous. Be aware of this and always try to answer the question succinctly and if you find yourself talking about things you don’t really know about close down the conversation and move on.

Leave on good terms

It is extremely important to try to build a rapport with the interviewers, if you get on well with them, even if you don’t get the job, they will bear you in mind if another opportunity arises. You could always have come a close second and the first could drop out or another similar role arise. Your interview could have been a disaster, but never be tempted to tell the interviewers what you think of them; many people work in small worlds and may know other potential employers.

Feedback will help your chances next time.
Feedback will help your chances next time.

Always ask for feedback

You could have had a terrible interview or a great one but still not get the job, either way finding out their reasons for not employing you can give you a real advantage in your next interview. It could be that you did very well, but someone else was just better, this should give you a real confidence boost for your next interview or it could be that you had bad body language and came across negatively, in which case you can work on your body language to ensure you do better next time. Getting feedback is a great way to improve your interview skills for your next job interview.

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    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Nicely done, very informative. I would also add that the interview is not over until you are off the company premises, and to beware of the question that is asked after they 'say' the interview is over. Do not turn off your interview skills just because they say, okay, that was great. You did really well... thanks for coming by, then just as you're making your way out of the office... 'oh, by the way, one last question...' this is the deal maker. Voted up/useful and following. Peace. Kawi.

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Thanks Kawi, you're absolutely right interviewers will often try to catch you off guard to see how quickly you can think on your feet. Stay switched on until you're back on the bus. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      jobstrategy 4 years ago

      KawikaChann, that is an excellent point to make. Often, that last question is the deal clincher. I would add that professional demeanor in terms of walk and speech.

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Thanks Jobstrategy, absolutely the professional demeanor is key, in my most recent job i was told by my employer that she new i was going to get the job before we had even started the questions because of my demeanor and the way i spoke with her. Many thanks for your contribution.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 4 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Simple basic which are often forgotten. It does amaze me how little people prepare for an interview..thanks good work

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Preparation is key, I've sat on interview panels in the past and people have come in who don't even know what the company does! Indeed, at least a little preparations key. The more the you do the more you maximise your chances of getting the job. Many thanks for the comment.

    • dommcg profile image
      Author

      dommcg 4 years ago

      Thanks Betty, glad to be of help.

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