What is a job interviewer looking for? Advice and tips from an expert

Sweaty palms. Rehearsing my lines. Adjusting the tie that’s a little too tight.

My heart beating so hard you can see it through the shirt.

The knot in my stomach.

Enough about the first time I met my mother-in-law.

Let’s talk job interview tips.

job interview

Sure, we hate interviews, but they are a necessary evil. But what about that person on the other side of the table? What are they thinking?

They may appear to us as a Lord Sugar-esque monster, but are they thinking about how awful I am, or what they are having for tea?

We spoke to an experienced interviewer for some job interview tips.

This person – who remains anonymous – has interviewed literally hundreds of people for big corporate companies and SMEs (small – medium sized enterprises). Recruiting roles from entry level to senior management jobs across different industries.

So grab a cuppa, here are some top tips for job interviews:

Job applications

Tailor your applications for the job that you are applying for. You should never send the same CV to several applications.

Each job will have a person specification and job description, you need to showcase your skills and experience to the required elements of each. This is essential as you wont even get to the interview without doing this.

Some jobs will require a CV, some an online application. Some need both. It’s good practice to keep your CV updated as you can use this to complete your online application.

Appearance

Getting your job interview outfit right can be tricky. Dress appropriately for the organisation and the role that you are aiming for.

A smart outfit is generally a must. It’s useful to try and get some information on the culture of the company, and the role that you are applying for. What do people who do the job you are applying for generally wear? What might the people interviewing you wear?

job interview

Questions

Your interview will generally consist of different questions to check your suitability. Some will be focused on you, the role and even the company itself. Competency-based are the most common, particularly for larger companies. Competency questions offer the chance to show your experience. These questions could start with: “Tell me about a time when you have…”.

Prepare your answers before the interview. Think about the questions you may be asked based on the job spec. I recommend writing down answers in a structure called STAR.

STAR is a great tool for answering job interview questions.

It stands for:

S – Situation

T – Task

A – Action

R – Response

You can write a paragraph using this method to bring one of your experiences to life. Get at least five different experiences available depending on the job you are going for. It could be when you have raised profits, dealt with a difficult situation or had a challenging conversation. Here is an example:

S – Working in a team leader role

T – Was asked to take over the management of a team in a difficult situation

A – I did x, y and z when I first took the role. This enabled me to… etc.

R – The team responded well and … etc

The Response is important, you could also think of this as the Result. What was the Result of what you did? Why is it important? What did your line manager think? What impact did this have on the business (or profit)? How did the team react? What would you do differently?

Sell yourself and bring to life those great examples.

One of my biggest frustrations as an interviewer is seeing people unprepared, or unable to talk about the good things that they have done. It is obvious when someone has prepared and is nervous (and struggles to bring things to life as a result) and someone who hasn’t prepared and is nervous.

Don’t forget to read up on the company that you are applying for.

One of my first questions is ‘What do you know about the company?’.

job interview tips

Remain calm

It’s easy to say, but remaining calm and confident is essential. It’s natural to feel anxiety before a job interview, think about effective coping methods. This includes regulating your breathing, having water with you.

The preparation that you have done before the interview will stand you in good stead. Be confident that you are the person for the role. Your interviewers will want to enjoy it as well, and they will not mean to make you feel nervous or anxious. Your interviewers want you to be the best you can be, and to be their new superstar.

There are some great books to help with anxiety, such as this one and this one.

Enjoy the interview. Enjoy the process of meeting new people. Enjoy the opportunity to showcase what you are good at, and what your achievements are.

What are your top tips for job interviews? Do you have any job interview best practice to share?

2 thoughts on “What is a job interviewer looking for? Advice and tips from an expert

  1. I have a interview coming up next week and I’m so glad I can’t across this. I usually do good on interviews , however this post will help me do great on my next one. Thank you for sharing. Happy New Year !

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. Very best wishes for your interview, I’m glad to hear the post helped with your confidence 🙂

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