Ever stepped into a job interview and felt like you have no idea what’s going on? Yeah, we’ve all been there. But what if I told you that adopting a job interview technique could easily turn the tides in your favour?
From customising your answers to matching your interviewer’s body language, there are several tips that could help you successfully land the job.
Career Coach and Early Career Strategist Kithmi Pathirana and People Operations Expert Nan Dondashe from Capital Placement share their insights into why picking up these interview techniques isn’t just a smart move—it’s the career upgrade you didn’t know you needed.
Unpacking job interviews
According to Indeed, “Interview techniques are the practices you follow before, during and after an interview to convince hiring managers that you’re the best candidate for the role.”
Employers throw interviews into the job hunt mix for a simple reason: they want more than what’s on your resume. It’s not just about checking if you’ve got the skills on paper; they’re curious about the real you.
Interviews provide a platform to assess the qualifications of candidates, ensuring they possess the necessary technical skills and expertise for the specific role. But beyond that, they’re also sizing up your people skills—and other soft skills (which are very important), checking if you vibe with the company culture, and seeing if you can think on your feet.
Communication skills are also scrutinised during interviews, offering insight into how effectively candidates can express themselves. Furthermore, interviews are an opportunity to assess a candidate’s problem-solving abilities and their capacity for critical thinking.
Additionally, interviews serve to evaluate the cultural fit of candidates within the organisation, determining whether their values align with those of the company. Employers use interviews to gauge a candidate’s suitability for teamwork and collaboration and to identify individuals who exhibit genuine motivation and enthusiasm for the role and the company.
In a nutshell, it’s their way of figuring out if you’re not just a set of skills but the right fit for the gig. They want to know the person behind the CV, and that’s what interviews are all about.
The mind games begin
A lot goes into interviews though–before, during (both on the surface and behind the scenes), and after. The job interview process is like an iceberg – what you see on the surface is just a fraction of what’s happening. Before the interview, there’s a whole background check and resume scrutiny dance. During the interview, there’s the visible Q&A session, but behind the scenes, there’s a subtle dance of assessing your body language, tone, and how you handle the unexpected.
It doesn’t end there, though. After the interview, there’s a whole debriefing party among the interviewers. They’re comparing notes, discussing your responses, and trying to piece together the puzzle of whether you’re the right fit. It’s not just about the technical skills; they’re digging into how you’d gel with the team, handle challenges, and bring something extra to the table.
So, from the pre-interview prep to the interview itself, and the post-interview analysis – it’s a multi-layered process where every step is a piece of the puzzle they’re trying to solve: figuring out if you’re the missing piece that completes their team.
But here’s the fun bit: The psychological aspect of interviews. It’s like the invisible hand that guides the entire process, influencing decisions at every stage – before, during, and after the interview.
Even before you step into the interview room, there’s a psychological evaluation happening. Recruiters are decoding your resume, looking not just at skills but at patterns, career progression, and even gaps. They’re forming initial impressions based on your achievements, roles, and the story your resume tells.
While you’re answering questions, interviewers are tuned into more than just your words.They’re reading your body language, assessing your level of confidence, and gauging your reactions. These non-verbal cues provide insights into your comfort, sincerity, and how you handle pressure.
Behavioural, situational, and competency-based questions are strategically designed to reveal aspects of your personality and problem-solving skills. The intention is to understand not only what you’ve done but how and why you did it.
And it continues! Post-interview, interviewer/s gather to debrief on the session they complete. Here, biases and heuristics might come into play as they discuss their impressions of your responses, trying to reach a consensus on your suitability for the role. Here, factors like confirmation bias (leaning towards information confirming pre-existing beliefs) and halo effect (generalising one positive trait to an overall positive judgement) can subtly shape the final decision-making process.
Learning how to play this game is half the battle. Here’s how.
What should you pay attention to?
- Firstly, know your story. Your resume isn’t just a list of jobs; it’s your professional narrative. Craft it in a way that highlights your growth and skills.
- Body language and non-verbal cues matter, too. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact—it shows confidence.
- Inject a bit of personality, share anecdotes. Humanise yourself. Remember, you’re not just a set of skills; you’re a person.
- After the interview, send a thoughtful thank-you email. It’s not just a courtesy; it’s a chance to reinforce key points.
- If there’s feedback, take it on board. It shows that you’re keen on learning and growing.
- Research the company culture. Show that you’re not just after any job but one that aligns with your values.
- Practise emotional intelligence—show you can handle pressure and respond with empathy.
The best interview techniques
The art of answering questions during an interview requires a thoughtful and strategic approach—and it takes some practice. Let’s explore essential interview tips and techniques that can significantly enhance your performance and leave a lasting impression on potential employers.
Pay attention—listen actively
During a job interview, actively listening to the interviewer is crucial. Make a conscious effort to understand each question before responding. Take a moment to process the information, ensuring you grasp the details. Active listening demonstrates your attentiveness and commitment to engaging in a meaningful conversation.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Be prepared to ask questions about the company and the role. This demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and your proactive approach to learning more. Thoughtful questions also indicate that you’ve done your homework.
Additionally, if a question seems a bit confusing, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It’s perfectly acceptable to seek more information to ensure you fully comprehend the question. This demonstrates your dedication to providing accurate and relevant responses, showing that you value precision in communication.
Structure your responses
When answering questions, organise your thoughts using a clear structure. The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a helpful framework for responding to behavioural questions. This structure ensures that your answers are well-organised and easy for the interviewer to follow.
Stay on topic
When tailoring your responses, make sure you’re sticking to the specific job requirements or specific question being directed at you. Avoid shovelling irrelevant information onto the interviewer. Instead, highlight experiences and skills that directly connect to the position you’re interviewing for. Being relevant in your answers demonstrates that you understand the needs of the role and can effectively contribute to the organisation.
Numbers, fact, figures: When discussing your achievements, try to use numbers or specific metrics. For instance, instead of saying you “improved efficiency,” mention that you “increased efficiency by 23%.” This adds a tangible and quantifiable dimension to your accomplishments, making them more impactful.
Watch your tone
Throughout the interview, maintain a positive and optimistic tone—you don’t need to be bubbly, just don’t walk in with the aura of Death itself. Even when discussing challenges or setbacks, focus on the solutions and lessons learned. Positivity not only makes a good impression but also showcases your resilience and ability to approach situations constructively.
Support your answers with examples from your past experiences. Real-world examples provide concrete evidence of your abilities and help the interviewer visualise how you’ve applied your skills in practical situations. This makes your responses more compelling and credible.
Express genuine enthusiasm for the job and the company—this lets the interviewer know why you’re excited about the opportunity. Sharing your enthusiasm demonstrates your motivation and genuine interest in contributing to the organisation.
Try different formats
Be ready for various types of interviews, such as behavioural or situational interviews. Different formats require different approaches. Being adaptable in your responses shows that you can navigate diverse interview styles with ease.
Cultural fit is still important
By showcasing your understanding of the company’s culture and values, you’re showing them that you align with the organisation’s mission and goals. Demonstrating cultural fit highlights your potential as someone who not only has the necessary skills but also shares the company’s values.
Keep it short
When responding to questions, aim to be concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary details that might distract from the main message. Being clear and succinct helps ensure that your key points are easily understood.
Take time to think
It’s okay to take a moment to collect your thoughts before answering challenging questions. Pausing briefly shows that you value thoughtful responses over rushed answers. This approach allows you to respond more confidently and effectively.
Turn weakness into strength
When discussing your weaknesses, frame them in a positive light. Talk about how you’ve actively worked to improve and what you’ve learned from those experiences. This positive approach demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to personal and professional growth.
Why do we customise our answers?
Customising responses during interviews is a strategic approach that offers several advantages to candidates. It’s akin to crafting a narrative that resonates with the unique script of each interview format, be it behavioural, situational, or competency-based. This customisation ensures that candidates address the specific focus areas of each interview style, enhancing the relevance and impact of their responses. The tailored approach isn’t just about ticking the right boxes; it’s about creating a personalised dialogue that showcases your strengths and experiences in a way that aligns seamlessly with the expectations of the interviewer. It’s your moment to shine on the customised stage they’ve set.
Customising your answers in a job interview is basically the art of being a chameleon. Not the lizard kind, but the kind that blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Here’s the deal: Imagine you’re at a party. You wouldn’t tell the same story or crack the same jokes to your work buddies as you would to your grandma, right? It’s the same with job interviews. Every company has its own personality – the way they talk, the stuff they care about, the things that make them tick.
So, when you customise your answers, you’re essentially speaking their language. It’s like saying, “Hey, I get you. I know what you’re about, and here’s how I can jump into your team and make things even cooler.”
And it’s not just about kissing up or being a smooth talker. It’s about showing you’ve done your homework. You’re not there to wing it; you’re there to show that you’re not just a job hunter on autopilot but someone who’s genuinely excited about the company and the gig.
Picture it as a friendly chat over coffee. You wouldn’t use the same words or jokes with every friend, right? It’s the same in an interview. Customising your answers makes it less like a robotic Q&A and more like a real conversation. You’re not just there to fill a job; you’re there to bring your unique awesomeness to the team. It’s like showing up to the party with the perfect dance moves – you just fit right in.
Why researching a company helps
Preparation is the key to success, and comprehensive research on a company before an interview is the compass that guides you. It’s not merely about glancing through the company’s website; it’s about immersing yourself in its story, understanding its mission, and feeling the pulse of its values. Social media platforms become windows into the company’s culture, providing glimpses into its daily life.
Employee reviews offer a backstage pass, revealing the unfiltered experiences of those who’ve walked the same halls. It’s about becoming fluent in the language of the industry, anticipating the questions that might arise, and aligning your responses with the rhythm of the company’s heartbeat. In the interview, you’re not just answering questions; you’re telling a story of your place within their narrative.
Navigating through confusing interview questions is akin to an improvisational performance on this high-stakes stage. If a question feels like a curveball, the first act is seeking clarity. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a moment of clarification, ensuring that you’re interpreting the question correctly. Once the stage is set, structure becomes your script. Break down the question into its components, addressing each part with a thoughtful and composed response.
Weave in the threads of your past experiences, highlighting the tapestry of your skills and problem-solving abilities. If the question feels like uncharted territory, honesty becomes your guiding star. Admitting uncertainty while expressing a genuine willingness to learn not only showcases humility but adds a human touch to your performance.
Learning to address questions skilfully is an ongoing rehearsal for the grand performance. Engage in mock interviews to simulate the intensity of the actual stage. Review common interview questions not as a script to memorise but as cues for improvisation, allowing your genuine self to shine through.
Seek feedback from your fellow actors—friends, mentors, or career coaches—gaining insights into your performance. Stay attuned to the evolving script of the industry; it’s not just about showcasing what you know but also demonstrating your ability to adapt to the changing scenes. Each interview is a chapter in your unfolding story, an opportunity to refine your lines and enhance your stage presence. It’s a journey where every performance is a lesson, and with each act, you step closer to mastering the art of the interview stage.
Storytelling is an interview technique
The best piece of advice we could give you is this: Tell your story! The ability to craft compelling narratives about your experiences, achievements, and skills can significantly elevate your interview performance.
When faced with behavioural interview questions or any other queries, don’t just list facts or skills—tell a story. Use the STAR method as a framework to structure your responses, turning them into engaging tales that captivate the interviewer’s attention.
Stories are memorable, relatable, and provide context to your capabilities. They allow you to showcase not only what you’ve done but also how and why you did it. Narratives create a connection between you and the interviewer, making you more than a set of qualifications on paper.
Craft stories that highlight your problem-solving abilities, teamwork, resilience, and achievements. Whether you’re addressing your strengths or discussing challenges you’ve overcome, a well-told story leaves a lasting impression and sets you apart from other candidates.
Remember, your interview is not just a question-and-answer session—it’s an opportunity to paint a vivid picture of who you are as a professional and why you’re the ideal fit for the role. So, embrace the power of storytelling to make your interview an engaging and memorable experience for both you and the interviewer.
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