Interviews can be a nerve-wracking and very different experience from person to person. So whether you're searching for your next data scientist job or your next business analyst contract it's great to keep your finger on the pulse for interview tips and tricks, in case you come across something you've not seen or heard before.
So you're here because you've secured an interview, congrats! You have come to the right place. The key with any interview, be it in person or virtually, is preparation, so we've to put together a few quick tips to help you impress in your interview, and maybe even enjoy yourself along the way! These tips are applicable to both permanent and contract interviews, however there may be slight differences.
Practice, practice, practice
You may, or may not, be nervous before your interview, but it’s a good idea to think about some of the questions you might be asked around your skills and experience and consider how you would answer them.
We don't recommend creating a script and following it word for word, because you may come across as rigid and rehearsed. Think about some of the key points you want to make and how you can get from A to B in your answers without stumbling.
Don’t try and shoe-horn in rehearsed statements to questions that don’t fit because then you won't be answering the question fully! Make sure it’s relevant and feels natural, if you don't have an answer it's perfectly okay so say you don't have one, or take some time to sit and think about it, don't feel pressured into responding straight after the question is asked. You’ve got this; trust your gut!
Relax, Breathe...let your personality come through
It can sometimes be hard to find the balance between being personal and professional, but the best piece of advice we can offer is just to relax!
Don’t feel like you need to be stilted and overly corporate. Smile, engage in small talk if there is the opportunity to, it helps break the ice between you and the interviewer and you'll feel more comfortable when you start. This shows the potential employer how you could fit into a team, as it shows off your inter-personal skills.
The more relaxed you feel, the stronger your answers are likely to be.
Do your research
Knowing a bit about the company you’re hoping to get a job with is a pretty obvious tip for your interview, but its important none-the-less. This tip is definitely more aimed at permanent roles as opposed to contract roles.
As part of your preparation you should try and learn the most relevant information about the company and the role you are applying to. Have they been in the news recently? What is the company's strategy or goals? (tip: look at their annual report) What are the most recent projects they’re working on? (tip: check out their social media channels!)
If you can clearly weave information about their current projects or objectives into the conversation, and how you could add value to these in the role advertised, this will impress. It shows you have taken the time to understand more than just the role itself.
Be clear and honest about your experience and skills
Don’t fall into the trap of embellishing your skills! It might be tempting to exaggerate some of your achievements, but remember whatever you say is usually validated by your references when they are followed up. You definitely don't want to get caught out further down the line.
There’s nothing worse than coming across as misleading or confusing in an interview – that’s a sure-fire way not to get the job. Instead, just be honest; talk about genuine successes. You’ll find it much easier to speak fluidly and get wrapped up in conversations about your honest experience.
If you're unsure of something ... ask!
We understand that in an interview you want to come across as an expert, so vocalising a lack of understanding about a topic or the role might seem like a bad idea. But this isn’t necessarily true. Asking for clarity shows you’re not afraid to take stock and make sure you’re 100% clear before you proceed.
In a real life work situation, it’s better to make sure you have a thorough understanding before you go ahead with a project, and how you deal with this in an interview is a reflection of your approach to work
Ensure to relate back to the job description
You should have a copy of the job description which will outline what your duties and responsibilities are, should you be successful.
A good way to prepare for your interview is to go through this document and highlight where your CV matches the job responsibilities. Demonstrating clear evidence of how your skills match with the duties you’ll be carrying out is a great way to show that you’re the ideal candidate.
What to say about the salary or rate
It’s not a great idea to ask about salary, benefits, or holidays in your first interview, unless it's already explained in the job description. However, it's definitely worth preparing an answer in case your interviewer questions you on the subject.
You don’t need to have an exact figure in mind, but if you know you’re not going to accept an offer lower than a certain amount – be honest! If you’re being asked outright, there’s no point in being shy here. You’ll only be doing yourself a disservice.
Prepare questions for prospective employer
Asking engaging and relevant questions about the role, team or company you're interviewing for shows the employer that you're really interested in the opportunity on offer. A lot of the time however, things you were going to ask may have been covered in the interview. So try preparing a few different questions so you definitely have something to ask at the end of your conversation. Good questions show that you’re keen, eager, and insightful.
In today's world remote working and virtual interviews are becoming more and more common, so we've pulled together some of our key tips to help you prepare for a virtual interview!