How to have a successful interview: Top tips to make a great first impression!
Use our top interview tips to improve performance and help you land your job in sustainable technology.
At Executive Integrity, sustainability is at the core of our values, so we must provide talented individuals with the tools and resources they need to succeed in this competitive field.
Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional, our guide will help you position yourself as the number 1 candidate in your field. Take the first step towards your dream job in sustainable technology with our comprehensive guide!
Before the Interview
1. What to take….
- Proof if ID
- Copies of qualifications, Training and
- ANYTHING which COULD be useful. Remember if you don’t take it, you can’t use it! At least give yourself the choice, a document or qualification presented visually can be very powerful and help to reinforce a point.
- Take extra copies of your CV and your prepared questions.
2. If possible, line up references (personal and professional) in advance.
3. Dress to impress, first impressions really count. It usually won’t hurt to dress more formally for your interview than you would on the job.
5. Plan your journey, the worst possible start to an interview is to be late! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get the interview, check train, bus times, traffic
6. Research the company:
- Do a Google search on the
- Review the company’s website (especially the “About Us,” “Team,” and “Products” sections of the site).
- Review press releases from the
- Read over the company’s blog if it has
- Review press articles written about the company
- Review the company’s LinkedIn
- Review information about the company’s
- Tap into your network of contacts to get any insight into the company you can.
7. Adhere to the four Ps
8. Re-read your CV. They will be generating many of their questions based on what your CV contains. It’s not often we take the time to really read our CVs and anticipate what questions they may have.
9. Re-read the job specification. This is where the STAR technique (find out more in the “During the interview” sector) can have a real impact. It’s important you know exactly what the job is and what they expect from you. The STAR technique will enable you to prepare comprehensive examples.
10. Prepare clear motivations. This can be the tipping point between a winning interview and a complete failure.
Successful candidates can professionally articulate their motivations and match them to the opportunity, this could be values, career development, industry sector, location, or responsibilities.
11. Why should I hire you?
What employers actually want to know is how you can add value to the role. Every single person in an organisation should be able to quantify exactly how they add value. If this is a sales director, it would be how much revenue they bring in. If it’s a PA, how much time can they save the CEO in a day? Everybody’s contribution should be measurable and what you have to do in an interview is tell the interviewer what you will contribute.
12. Practice your technique. with a friend or family practice makes perfect, it’s a proven technique to calm those nerves and prepare how to articulate the perfect
During the Interview
- Relax: This is much easier said than done, but the best thing you can do is calm yourself appropriately before an interview. Try not to focus so much on the outcome of the meeting. Rather, think of it as an opportunity to make another professional connection.
- Make eye contact: This seems like a simple step, but it’s very essential for mastering the art of how to ace a job Making eye contact will ensure that your potential future employer is seeing a confident, collected potential employee.
- Look for opportunities to build rapport and find common interests. This can be a real winning edge, interviews are as much an opportunity to show the employer that you would be a pleasant person to work with as they are to demonstrate skills and experience, this is a social opportunity.
- If it’s a panel interview ensure you are engaging all of the delegates, interviews are usually led by one person ensure when giving your answers you’re making eye contact with everyone in the room.
- Take some time to consider your answers and respond You shouldn’t feel pressured to answer each question in rapid fire.
- Be open and honest: However, don’t be over-critical of your previous employers it can set alarm bells ringing.
- Use the STAR Technique to answer any competency-based or behavioural questions. This is a sure-fire way of providing a comprehensive and credible answer.
- Spread your questions out throughout the interview. An interview should go both ways, you should be interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing Don’t save them all for the end, make it more organic.
- Articulate your motivations and explain why this opportunity is important to you. How does the opportunity meet your motivations, if that can’t be explained then you’re at the wrong interview.
- “Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the role?” For some people, this can be a daunting question but you can nip any concerns in the bud. If they raise concerns after the interview it can be too late so it’s a great opportunity.
- Next steps? Walk away from the interview with a clear understanding of what happens next.
- End the interview gratuitously ensure you thank all of those in attendance individually and reinforce your interest in the position.
Following Up Post-Interview
- Send a follow-up email. Compose your follow-up email as soon as possible after the meeting, so you have a chance to influence assessments of your candidacy before they have been finalised.
- Put your head-hunter to work!
The STAR Technique
- Delivery is key and can make an average answer much STAR is an acronym for four key concepts. Each concept is a step you can utilise to answer a behavioural or competency interview question. By employing all four steps, you will provide a more comprehensive answer. The concepts in the acronym comprise the following:
- Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge. For example, perhaps you were working on a group project, or you had a conflict with a colleague. This situation can be drawn from work experience, a volunteer position, or any other relevant event. Be as specific as possible.
- Task: Next, describe your responsibility in that Perhaps you had to help your group complete a project within a tight deadline, resolve a conflict with a colleague, or hit a sales target.
- Action: You then describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or colleague did. (Tip: Instead of saying, “We did xyx,” say “I did xyz.”)
- Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action It may be helpful to emphasize what you accomplished, or what you learned.
This proven technique will work for any level from blue-collar to executive.
- Turn on your confidence even before the interview commences. In the waiting area, have good posture while standing and Keep your back straight and your chin parallel to the ground.
- The handshake: Studies say that handshakes play a significant role in first impressions, so make it Your shake should be neither bone-crushing nor like a limp fish. Aim for a firm handshake, and as you shake, make eye contact and smile.
- No slumping. Keep your back straight. Lean forward slightly to indicate interest. Do not recline back into the chair fully; this can make you seem bored or disengaged.
- Avoid crossing your arms or placing items in your lap; these habits indicate defensiveness, nerves, and a need for self-protection when what you’d ideally convey during an interview is confidence.
- If you’re a nail-biter, knuckle-cracker, hair-twirler, or leg-tapper, don’t allow these habits to make an appearance during the interview. All will appear unprofessional and convey nerves.
- Do you naturally talk with your hands? Go ahead and let them move during the interview. Stopping your natural gestures may lead to an awkward
A job interview goes both ways. It should be an opportunity for you to assess the role and the company and make sure it is right for you.
But this can’t be truly assessed by only answering questions and not asking them. The employer is able to understand what’s important to you from the questions you ask which could give you a winning edge.
It’s important you take time prior to the interview to prepare your questions.
Your objective should be to come away from the interview in a position to make an educated decision if this is truly the right fit for you and your career.
Stay clear of low-level, poorly prepared questions.
- What does the company do?
- How much does it pay?
- How much holiday do I get?
- Do I get sick pay?
- Did I get the job?
Yes, money is important as are the company benefits but an interview is about finding a match in your skills, values, and motivations.
Some examples of higher level more engaging and credible questions could be:
- When you think of your best employees, what have been some of their best traits, qualities, and competencies?
- If selected for this role, what challenges will I be facing?
- What are the company’s core values?
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What’s the company culture?
Asking probing questions will demonstrate your credibility. It will show that this is a serious career choice that you need to consider carefully. If they see you as a great candidate, they will sell to you. A more desperate candidate may ask little to no questions and just hope they’ve done enough to get the job which is an unattractive trait.
Top 10 Most Common Interview Questions
- Why are you leaving your current job?
Leaving your current or previous job can be because of a number of reasons. Answer with confidence, and it’s wise to prepare an answer before heading to your interview. Being able to answer this question clearly will show the interviewer you’re serious about this job change. Try and focus on the positive move forward towards the future rather than giving negative answers about your former job.
- Why do you want to work here?
This question is usually a test to see if you have taken the time to research the company and why you think you would be a good fit for the role. Preparation is key. Make sure you research and take your time to learn about the services, products, history, and culture of the workplace. A great way to make an impact is to include what about the company appeals to you – how it aligns with your career path and goals. The interviewer could ask why these things are important to you in an employer so be prepared to explain why.
- What interests you about this role?
You can sometimes cover this question with the previous one but interviewers usually include this to make sure you fully understand the position. This is a great opportunity for you to highlight the skills covered on your CV and relate them to the job description. In your answer focus on a few things you particularly enjoy or excel at.
- What are your goals for the future?
This is a key question that you want to have a good detailed answer ready. The interviewer is trying to understand if you are looking for a job long term. If you are, explain your future goals, ambitions, and expectations for your career. This will show the ability to plan ahead and if you position correctly how this role will help you to reach your end goal.
- What are your greatest strengths?
We are all great about talking about things we are good at but don’t go all guns blazing into this one. Take time to think about your strengths and when answering relate them to the job spec/role which you are interviewing for.
- What are your greatest weaknesses?
Even though you might be expecting this question it is still a difficult one to answer. You will be so focused on creating a good impression and hoping not to say the ‘wrong’ thing which may lose you the job. Being able to give an honest answer and show you are self-aware is an attribute that many employers find attractive. When you start, explain how you are working towards overcoming this hurdle and ending on a positive note.
- Can you tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it?
When presenting your answer you want to show problem-solving capabilities and present through stories as they are easier to remember rather than facts and figures. You have the opportunity to show how you went above and beyond to help solve the situation.
- What is your salary range expectation?
Firstly make sure that the budget for the role aligns with the money you are looking for. Applying for a position that isn’t in your expected salary range can make you give the impression of misunderstanding your self-worth.
If you want to avoid getting into a salary negotiation during an interview, state you’re here today to gain a greater understanding of the role and the company to ensure there is a good match and you’re happy to discuss salary at a later stage.
- Why should we hire you?
You may find this question intimidating when asked but it is just giving you another opportunity for you to sell yourself as the best candidate for the position. Address your skills and previous experience and how it fits within the role which you are applying for.
- Do you have any questions?
One of the most important questions out of them all. This gives you a chance to interview the hiring manager and find out the answers to your questions. It also shows that you are excited about the job and gives you a chance to find out about their own experience being with the company.