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How to ace an interview 🙌

“To sell or not to sell, that is the question”, says Interview coach Linda Holder

“When it comes to interviews, people either undersell themselves or tend to brag. It’s hard to strike the right balance. How many times have you been told to “sell yourself”? The advice is well intended, but not exactly helpful.

For a start, do you even know how to sell yourself? And how do you do it without appearing brash and conceited?

 
1. Show you have what they’re looking for 🌟

Rather than try to ‘sell’ yourself, here’s a more constructive approach to make you feel more confident and in control. 

  • Understand what they’re looking for (from the job spec)
  • Know what you have to offer (your skills and experience)
  • Show them how it fits by providing answers with examples of when and how you used the skills and experience they’re looking for.
 
2. Turn a job spec into a list of what they are looking for 📝

A job spec is your secret weapon. Read through it in detail and make a list of all the skills that are referenced. Prep examples of when you have demonstrated each of these. What was the result? 

Skill MentionedTime I’ve nailed it…
  
  
  
  
 
3. Really do your research 🔍

Linda says, “Many interviewees fall at the first hurdle simply because they haven’t prepared adequately. Do your homework:

  1. Read up on the organisation
  2. Find out about their latest product, their main competitors, major clients etc
  3. Familiarise yourself with the job spec
  4. Review your CV and application form and consider what questions they’re likely to ask” 

Our checklist of things you should know before you walk into the room: 

✅ What your hiring manager has done before

✅  Recent marketing campaigns 

✅  Products

✅  Key members of the organisation

✅  The company’s culture, mission and values

✅ News and recent events about the business

 
4. Practise how you’ll keep your answers straight forward 💬

“So many candidates tie themselves up in knots when giving an answer. They waffle, digress, and fail to get to the point. You need to say what you have to say clearly and succinctly. 

  • Keep it relevant, remember the question
  • If you can recall a particular day or a specific event it will help keep you on track and stop you rambling
  • Briefly set the scene so they can understand the context of what you are saying. Try and paint a picture in their mind
  •  

Use the STAR model to construct your answers:

  • This was the situation
  • This is what happened
  • This is what I did
  • This was the outcome thanks to my input” says Linda. 
 
5. Always have some questions for them prepared 😇

Remember the interview is a two way process. This is your opportunity to assess the company and the role you’re interviewing for and whether it’s a good fit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – a decent employer will be happy to engage and give open, honest responses.

  • Avoid yes or no questions and avoid questions that are so broad that they are difficult to answer.
  • Prepare at least two questions that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework
  • Instinct is a powerful thing. If your gut is telling you something and you don’t feel you have all the answers then ask questions!
6. Practice makes perfect 😎

Interviews are really awkward. The only way to get better at them is to give it a go. This doesn’t mean interviewing for roles you don’t want, but does mean biting the bullet and asking friends and family to give you a grilling.

Here are some questions from our members to get you started:

  1. “Why should we hire you?”
  2. “Tell me about a time you showed leadership”
  3. “Tell me about a time you were successful on a team”
  4. “What would your co-workers say about you?”
  5. “Why did you want to leave your current role?”
  6. “Describe your most challenging project”
  7. “Tell me about something you’ve accomplished that you are proud of”
  8. “Can you explain your employment gap?”
  9. “What are your salary expectations?”
  10. “Tell me about a time you had to manage conflicting priorities”
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