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How to sell yourself in an interview
Having interview skills always comes in handy. Interview skills are extremely valuable, whether you have one coming up or simply want to improve your ability to keep cool under pressure, answer tough questions effectively or just want to build confidence in your skills. In this article, we’ll outline what you need to do to sell yourself in an interview, be prepared and stay confident under pressure.
What you will learn
- How to effectively prepare for an interview;
- How to do your research, talk about your skills and stay calm.
- The best way to approach an interview situation
- How to follow up after your meeting
How to prepare for your interview
Interviews are nobody’s favourite situation to be in and it is completely normal to feel nervous under the pressure. The more time you spend on the preparation for the interview, the more confident you will feel. By being more confident in your abilities you’ll feel less pressure, being able to discuss your skills and experience with a relaxed demeanour- which will work favourably with the interviewer!
Our 'First Impressions Count' webinar will show you interview techniques to tackle any situation with confidence.
Following our four tips will help you prepare yourself for any interview:
1. Do your research
This applies to any organisation you have an interview with, most of the time you will be asked what you already know about the place. Start by looking on the organisation’s website, most places will have an about section that you can explore. Does the organisation have any social media pages? By looking here, you will be able to see the latest company updates as well as gain insight into their tone of voice which are useful. If there is a specific role or programme you’re interested in, make sure you spend some time looking at what appeals to you, what skills you already have in each of the requirements.
You can also research who will be interviewing you, having an awareness of what they look like, how long they have been in the organisation can help you identify who they are and have key discussion points ready as to how this role fits around theirs.
2. Practice your answers
Having some answers prepared for the questions you’re most likely to be asked is a great way to combat the pressure of having to think on the spot. To do this make sure you have thoroughly read the description for the position you’re applying for and consider how you meet the requirements. Many people find rehearsing interviews with other people useful. You’ll improve with practice so why don’t you sit down with a friend or family member and go through a round of mock interviews. This will build your confidence and make answering the questions natural.
Consider practicing common interview questions. These are not always necessary related specifically to the position but can be a great way to show off your personality and interests.
These are some of the most common questions that get asked in interviews:
Question: Tell me about yourself
This question is an opportunity to really showcase your skills, experience, and achievements, especially the ones that are suited to the position you’re interviewing for. This helps to show your enthusiasm for the role and explore the skills gained in the past whether it was through education, work or a voluntary role.
Question: How do you deal with pressure?
This is a very popular interview question. Here, the interviewer wants to understand your approach to working- and whether you are suitable for the position. In most roles, you will be put under pressure at some point, and this question is perfect to emphasise the positives to working under pressure. Describe the strategies that you've used to motivate yourself and others during challenging times.
Where possible, use specific examples of when you've had to work under pressure and how you managed it successfully. Another great tip here is to show that you’re not afraid of asking for help, you may have asked a team member for assistance- a fantastic way to showcase your teamworking skills!
Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
It is important that you have an answer ready here that's positive and ambitious, but also realistic. You probably have a plan in mind, this is your opportunity to articulate it show you enthusiasm for the future.
One approach is to consider the skills and experience that you'd like to gain. Describe how this will help you to achieve your career goals. This emphasises your commitment to the new role or experience and demonstrates that you'd make the most of it – for the organisation as well as for yourself.
3. Stay calm
Easier said than done, but having control of your nerves can make all the difference in an interview. Being prepared helps to control the nerves but there are many other techniques you can use to reduce stress, stay calm and be positive about your skills.
During the interview
During any interview it is important that you remain confident in your ability and sell yourself effectively to any organisation. Make sure you make a good first impression, be polite and enthusiastic throughout- even if you’re not usually a bubbly person! Be friendly to everyone you meet; this will pay off at every stage of the process.
Listen closely to the questions you’re asked and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or give examples for a question. This will help you to answer any question to your best ability and keep you engaged in the interview. Another good skill to practise is active listening, giving your full attention to what is being said makes you appear interested and respond with non-verbal messages such as eye contact or body language. This will show that you’re interested in what the interviewer has to say and keep you more involved in the conversation.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during and at the end of your interview. This displays your interest and that you have researched the role effectively, it will also help you to consider if the organisation is the right fit for you. Consider asking:
What does the organisation value most?
Who will be the department head?
What have people who have previously been in this position gone on to do?
This will give you a better idea on the organisation’s environment, make you appear confident and engaged with the interviewer.
After the interview
You're not finished when you walk out of the interview room, make sure you continue to make a good impression even after you leave. You can do this by following up with a thank you email to everyone on the interview panel, thanking them for their time. This will keep you at the forefront of their mind and leave a lasting impression with the interviewers.
No matter what happens after the interview it is important that you get feedback. Feedback helps us learn from experience- even if you end up getting the job, we can always improve!
Interviews may not be the most comfortable situations but remember that just getting one is a fantastic feat.
Some other articles you may find helpful
Take your interviewing skills to the next level with our top 10 tips on how to ace your interview.
Learn how to come across well to your future employers and secure that next stage interview.
Describing what you’ve achieved can be tricky. Our tips will help you come across your best.