You know it’s coming: whatever the role, whatever the company, all interviews boil down to one key question. Why should we hire you?
You’re trying to convince your interviewers to invest in your best asset: you. So just how should you go about selling yourself?
Make sure you know exactly why you think you should get the job. Prepare a short story that feels natural and unforced i.e. not a flat recitation from memory. Tailor it to the specific role and company in question. It goes without saying you’ll need to know the role and the organisation inside and out.
Preparing for your first interview
Leave out any irrelevant details, no matter how impressive they might appear at first sight. Stick to highlighting those skills and experiences that fit the company. Throughout the interview, keep a close ear out for the details that describe their ideal candidate. Then you can show just how perfectly you fit that description.
Can you explain what makes you stand out from the crowd? Of course, a good answer will demonstrate the ways your particular experience and skill-set meets their needs better than anyone else. But do you have a personal take on what they want?
Try to create a narrative line that runs through your past experiences all the way up to this interview. Spin your life story to show how everything you've done so far has been leading you to this job.
Top 5 interview techniques
Good questions will show that you’re a smart, thoughtful and curious person who listens to what people have told you. The questions you choose will indicate your knowledge in your field, as well as your general level of intelligence. It's your best chance to drive the conversation and get the perspective of people currently working at the company. Some examples might be:
• What do you value most as a company?
• What are the different skills and experience within the team?
• What kinds of processes do you have to encourage collaborative working?
• Do you have any concerns I should address before I become your top candidate?
10 questions to ask at the interview
It never hurts to be prepared for some of the most common tricky questions. These are just a few examples of how to approach them.
"Why did you leave your last job?"
Stay positive, regardless of the circumstances. Never refer to a major problem with management and never speak ill of supervisors, co-workers or the organisation – you could look negative or argumentative. Keep smiling and talk about positive reasons for leaving, including new opportunities, a chance to do something different, or another forward-looking option.
"Do you consider yourself successful?"
Of course you do! But briefly explain why. A good explanation might explain how you've set goals for yourself (don’t forget to name them), some of which you’ve met already, others which you’re still on track to achieve.
Again, the only sensible answer is yes! Be sure to have specific examples ready, which show you often perform for the good of the team rather than for yourself.
If your examples of being a team player are strong, you don’t need to sell them, just describe them in a matter-of-fact tone.
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