Last week I covered how I prepare for job interviews. This week I am going to talk about how I approach interviews on the day to ensure that I make the best possible impression. My biggest challenge is that I get very nervous, and this impacts on my ability to think clearly and quickly. This is partly why I do so much preparation. I have recently been made aware of this video which includes a lovely reframing of the experience of nerves and some suggestions about how to overcome them, so I will definitely be using these tips in the future: https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/four-tips-from-elite-sport-you-can-use-in-everyday/p08lzh5j
There are ample resources on the internet about interview technique so I won’t try and replicate them, but these are my tips, which help with my nerves and to give me the best possible chance of success. Of course virtual interviews have some different preparation requirements which were outlined in a link in my blog last week.
Tip 1: Having undertaken plenty of preparation helps me feel more confident and I tend to take my preparation notes with me so I can look at them again before the interview starts. I have also occasionally referred to them during interview when my nerves made my mind go blank. I don’t think anyone has ever had a problem with that. I certainly would not mind as an interviewer – who doesn’t want someone in a governance role who is prepared, thorough and keen to get things right? But it is possible that some recruiters might not like it, so I use it with care. When I did check my notes mid interview I simply explained I was nervous and that my mind had gone blank and asked if they would mind if I checked my notes. They were understanding and having found my feet again I got back into my flow. I didn’t get the job on that occasion, but the interview feedback was positive and the decision not to employ me did not seem to have been because I checked my notes mid interview.
Tip 2: I aim to arrive at the interview venue in plenty of time, so I plan my journey, know where I am going and allow for delays. When I am confident I am very close to the venue, I find somewhere quiet to sit to have a cup of tea and to look at my preparation notes again to ensure I am feeling calm and in control.
Tip 3: I know it is important to make a good impression on everyone I come into contact with when I enter the building, not just the interviewers. I also know I have a tendency to frown rather than smile when I am nervous so smiling is something I have to consciously concentrate on all the time I am there.
Tip 4: When the interview starts I try to remember to keep smiling, remember to breathe, relax and be myself. Generally interviewers want you to do well and will endeavour to make you feel comfortable. If I am interviewed by someone who is aggressive or tries to catch me out I would seriously consider whether I wanted to work for them anyway.
Tip 5: During the interview I try to avoid the temptation to rush into answering each question. A few seconds thinking about what I want to say is time well spent because it allows me to give clear and positive answers.
Tip 6: One trick I try to use if I am asked something I don’t know about or have no experience of is to be clear that I don’t, say that I see that as a development area, and tell them what I can do, or explain how I would go about overcoming this if I was in the job. This is a more positive response than simply saying I don’t know. Knowing I can revert to this response if necessary helps me to feel less nervous about being asked difficult questions. Also, because governance professionals in work will sometimes be asked something they don’t know and need to be able to give a reassuring and positive “I’m not sure, I’ll get back to you on that” response, this is an opportunity to demonstrate to the interviewers how you manage if you are put on the spot.
Tip 7: Of course I have not been successful in every interview I have attended, even when it has gone well. If I am unsuccessful I think it is a good idea to ask for feedback so I know what I need to work on for future opportunities.
Overall, I think the best interviews are ones where it feels more like a chat and an exchange of views. To me this signals that the role would be a good fit.
These are my tips for interview success, what would yours be?
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