Written by The Resourcing team on 24 Jan 2017
At Momenta, we’ve been placing quality candidates into contracts for over 20 years. Over time, we’ve seen significant change. But one thing has stayed constant – the fact that nervous candidates fail to give their best performance at interview.
So, here we’re sharing as a film – and in this piece – 4 professional tips from our interview experts to help you prepare and convert any anxieties into confidence.
Interview preparation tip 1: Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes
Most candidates make their nervousness worse by putting too much of their attention on themselves. One winning tip is to imagine the interview through your interviewer’s eyes. Ask yourself, “What would the interviewer like to see from an ideal candidate?”
Think of your interview as a chance to transfer only the most relevant knowledge about you into the mind of your interviewer. They don’t need to know everything. Your task is to convey the most interesting and relevant information to position yourself as the obvious candidate for the contract. This person may be meeting several candidates on the same day. So, see your task as trying to make your interviewer’s job as easy as possible. By presenting yourself as exactly what they want to see, you are making their life easier and maximizing your chances of a successful outcome.
Think about it like this: When you enter your interview, you know all about yourself already. You know your experience. You know your career history. You know your skills, passions and interests. In complete contrast, your interviewer knows very little about you. They may have had a quick read of your CV, but little more. By structuring simple and concise answers with logical flow you can make it far easier for your interviewer to extract the right messages from your words.
By listening carefully to the question and responding to only what is asked for, you’ll avoid ‘waffle’. Speak clearly and deliver short, clear answers. Aim for no longer than two minutes per answer. By stopping after a short answer, you’ll find if they want to know more, they’ll ask another question. But you’ll also find that you’re engaging them in a conversation rather than having to do all the talking yourself.
Interview preparation tip 2: Be ready to introduce yourself
Many interviews begin with the interviewer inviting the interviewee to introduce themselves. The typical question is something like “Can you start by telling me a bit about yourself?”
By preparing well, you’ll find this is a gift of a start to your interview for two reasons: Firstly, because you know what you’re going to say, you can give a concise and confident start, creating a strong first impression. Secondly, and even more importantly, it’s a golden opportunity for you to seed ideas you want to talk about. Pick interesting snippets about your most fascinating experiences, but stop short of fully explaining them so you leave ‘conversational hooks’ for your interviewer to latch on to.
The mistake that many candidates make at this point is to start too far back in time and to speak for too long. The best opening line is to say “Let me give you the 2-minutes summary.” This instantly puts your interviewer at ease. Even if you speak for a little longer, they’ll be relieved to know that you’re not going to explain your whole life history. Continue by using one of these answer formats: Opt either for the ‘past – present – future’ approach, or alternatively, the ‘academia – work experience – interests’ approach.
In the first of these you briefly explain your career history, your current role and your future ambition. Taking about 2 minutes to do this will be long enough for you to share interesting company names, roles, recent contracts and to suggest your interest and fit for the contract to which you’re applying.
If you opt for the second approach, use your 2-minutes to outline relevant qualifications, work experience and finally, an insight into what you do outside of work. This works well because in just a couple of minutes you can demonstrate your qualifications, open the door to conversations about your work history and show you’re a great addition to this contract workforce. When using either format, to add further clarity to your story, use body language to clearly indicate to your interviewer when you’re switching between each of the three parts.
Interview preparation tip 3: Realise there are only 3 underlying interview questions
Ultimately, your interviewer is trying to understand just three things about you: Your ability, your motivation and your fit. In other words, they want to know: Can you fulfil this contract? Will you fulfil this contract? And will you fit in with the others fulfilling this contract?
While they may ask you various other detailed questions, these will be the core themes they are looking to explore. So, make sure your detailed preparation before your interview involves practicing explaining your skills, being able to clearly explain why you are interested in this contract and finally, evidence of your team-working and social skills.
Interview preparation tip 4: Know your details
There is no better way of combatting interview nervousness than being well prepared. One of the best ways of preparing, takes some time, effort and planning, but makes a real difference on the day of your interview. It’s knowing your details. First off, know the details of your CV. That sounds obvious, but a host of interview questions can stem from details on your CV. Making sure you know everything you’ve written reduces the risk of you being caught out on your own content. Secondly, know the details of the Momenta Contract Description. Pay attention to the specific skills and experience required so there are no surprises in the interview room. Finally, but these two parts together and prepare detailed mini cases to demonstrate your command of the desired skills by using your examples to bring your relevant experience to life using the key words detailed in the contract description. That will make sure your answers clearly demonstrate your precise fit for the role.
Tip 1: Imagine you are the interviewer for this role. What would you want to know? Your task is to make the interviewer’s life as easy as possible.
Tip 2: Be ready to introduce yourself. Keep this opener down to just 2 minutes. Use either the ‘past – present – future’ format or the ‘academia – work experience – interests’ format to structure a clear 3-part answer.
Tip 3: Realise there are only three underlying interview questions. Prepare to show your interviewer that you can do this role, that you want to do this role and that you will fit in with others doing this role.
Tip 4: Know your details. Check through your CV. Check through the contract description. Make sure you’re ready to use your experience to evidence the skills the contract demands.