How to find your dream job by honing your interview skills

I was recently giving induction training on the subject of "Understanding Business" to a group of new recruits for a large multinational. Interviews came up a lot in the sessions: the trainees were excited to be in this new job and eager to talk about the job interviews they had just successfully passed.

Perfect, I said - let's talk about what you learned in this round of interviews, to prepare for the next.

They were shocked. "What do you mean, the next round? We're here, aren't we?" I pointed out that interviews come in many shapes and forms.Essential Skills to Getting a Job You will be interviewed if you go for a promotion or a secondment. You will also be interviewed informally by people "sounding you out". In addition, if run a business like I do, then each time you meet a new client or want to build on an existing sales order, you go through a de facto interview.

We all know the formal job interview: you put on your best clothes and walk nervously into a room full of strangers who will ask you tricky questions. It can be a one-to-one conversation over a coffee. It can take place over Skype or it can develop over a random conversation that you start with somebody who sits next to you on a flight! If you can recognise these opportunities, you can put your best foot forward and make a good impression early.

Start preparing right now by doing these three things:

  1. Go to the Career Development Service in the Arts/Science Building and ask them about any information they have on interview skills.

 

You don't have to go it alone. Always ask around for what information and opportunities are available: the Careers Office will be only too happy to help you practice your interview skills, and you can never start too early. They also organize Career Fairs, help with C.V. preparation, placement applications and have a platform called "Careers Connect". I remember having a mock interview with a member of their team when I was in college and they asked me some thought provoking questions that I now ask myself when interviewing others.

 

  1. Find a good "thinking spot" on campus and take ten minutes each week to collect a portfolio of your achievements.  Get a notebook and write down all of the things that you did that week that might be applicable in the workplace. What new topics did you cover in lectures? Did you work as part of a team? Did you have to go outside your comfort zone? Did you face and solve a problem?

 

On that note, people often ask me if you select experiences like volunteering because "they will look good on your CV"? Personally, I believe that you should pursue subjects, project themes, societies, and hobbies etc because they interest you. If you're passionate about the subjects that come up in an interview, you're far more likely to stand out than if you half-heartedly participated in some activity because you thought it would impress an employer. 

 

  1. Talk to othes about their interview experiences and learn from them.

 

Ask them in detail how the interview unfolded, what questions they were asked, what they answered, did they have to complete a task on the spot, what they would improve. Stories from both failed and successful interviews are invaluable and by using other people's stories as case studies, you will familiarise yourself with the experience. Instead of being taken off guard, you will know what to expect.

Interviews aren't something unpleasant that you have to go through once and then you're done. The world of work is evolving and you will likely have several different jobs throughout your career and hence have several interviews along the way. Cut through nerves and reach for the stars!

Susan HayesCulleton, CFA, graduated from NUI Galway and is now Managing Director of international training company HayesCulleton. Follow her on Twitter at @SusanHayes_

 

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