There’s a lot of info all over the internet about preparing for job interviews – we even have some of our own right here - but say you’ve got all the basics covered: you’ve ironed your outfit, prepared your answers and set four alarms to make sure you’re there on time. What else can you do? We’ve got a few slightly less conventional tips and tricks to make sure you nail the interview.
1. Film Yourself Practicing
Widely used by Olympic athletes, cricketers and rugby players, this exercise uses the fact we’re our own worst critics. Set up a camera and practice answering a few common interview questions, speaking to the camera as you would to an interviewer. Then, play the tape back to yourself (even if you hate the sound of your own voice) and you’ll be able to see how you come across, as well as noticing your own body language and what it says about you (more on this here). Any bits you need to improve will stick out straight away.
2. Prepare for some odd questions
Big companies like Google and Microsoft are famous for asking some strange questions in interviews. Good (or bad) ones include “Why are manhole covers round?”, “How do you weigh a plane without scales?” and “Estimate how many windows are in New York.” If you’re breaking out in a cold sweat just reading those, don’t worry: your potential employers don’t actually want a simple answer; they want to know how you think and solve problems. The key thing to remember is not to panic. The best way to deal with questions like these is to think aloud. Describe your thought processes to the interviewer, and don’t be afraid to criticise your own ideas if they’re wrong. For the last example question, a good start would be: “Well, there are millions of people in New York. Probably 5 or 6 million. Each of them would have a minimum of three or four windows…..” Tackling questions aloud will show the interviewer that you aren’t afraid to take on difficult challenges.
3. Steal Techniques
There’s a lot of scope for “borrowing” techniques from some slightly less conventional industries. Feeling tongue-tied? Lots of actors warm up their jaw and vocal chords before auditions. Hum the national anthem, or try singing “twinkle twinkle little star” while mooing like a cow. While you should probably not do this in public to avoid stares, exercises like this mean that when you’re in the thick of it you won’t trip over your words – useful, especially if applying for a job as a pepper picker.
Comedians are also people who have to make an instant connection with an audience. Comedy duo That Pair recommend mentally visualising and rehearsing as this lets you make sure you have everything you need, and be ready to respond to your interviewer. “If the guitar is tuned, the props are in place and lines learnt we are able to be freer to respond to the audience. Being ready to play with the crowd and any chance happenings is really important as these can often become the funniest bits of the show,” they said.
Doing plenty of prep also boosts self-confidence, meaning you’re more likely to enjoy yourself. As comedy group Four Screws Loose explain: “We’ve found the best way to get an audience onside [or an interviewer in this case] is having genuine enthusiasm and self-belief. As a comedy performer you’ve got to enter the stage with a self-assurance […not arrogance, we’ve all seen The Apprentice – cringe!) that makes the audience relax into their seats and feel at ease. If we come on stage with any self-doubt the audience can always sniff it out – it’s much harder for them to warm to you. They like to see us having a good time on stage – and think this is true in any interview scenario. The positivity is infectious!”
4. Be Brave
Yes, being brave can actually make you act braver as, when your body is stressed, it engages what’s called a “fight-or-flight response”. There’s a lot of science behind it, but this reaction comes from when we were still monkeys deciding whether to run away from predators… or stay and fight them. Depending on what you choose to do, the body changes its reaction: a fight response pumps adrenaline into your body, making you more focused, more energetic and less likely to shake or stammer. If you decide to run, the body becomes tenser and shakier, your mouth gets dry and you sweat much more. Not what you want during an interview!
5. Bring A Prop
It’s all very well to talk about how great you are, but producing physical evidence of previous work gives you a massive advantage in a job interview. If you can give an employer something, whether a portfolio, object or document and say “I did this!” you’ll instantly stand out over people with an impressive CV but nothing else. Having a prop which you’re familiar with also helps calm nerves, and gives you something to talk about with your interviewer. Even having a folder or briefcase with your interview preparation notes in can make you feel (and look) more professional and confident.
So there we have it. For some more tips on interviews, check out our list of things not to say in an interview (plus owls) or our list of great questions you can ask your interviewer when they drop the “so… do you have any questions for ME?” bomb.
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