I sat down with a friend earlier this week who has been job hunting for about 6 months now. She has been getting interviews (which is great, shows that her applications are good) but unfortunately no job offers. Here’s a sum up of our conversation that includes my top interview tips for when you’re not getting any job offers:

  1. Employer feedback – have you received any? If not this is important to ask for because otherwise you won’t know where you’re going wrong. Rather than just asking for feedback it’s good to quantify this and ask if they noticed any specific areas in which you could do better or if they can recommend how you might do better moving forward. Maybe you thought your examples weren’t strong enough so you might ask them to comment on that. Some employers may not answer directly because they feel uncomfortable but it’s definitely worth asking. Any feedback is better than none.
  2. Body language – Have you noticed this? Are you maintaining eye contact, but not overdoing it? Do you have good posture? Are you making sure not to cross your arms? Do you appear interested and engaged? These things are very important and can often make or break the chances of a job offer. My friend realised that she sometimes pulled faces when answering a question she found tricky and I also noticed her tone of voice sounded a bit flat. If you tone sounds like you are bored or uninterested then that will also affect your chances. Here are a couple of other blogs on body language tips: Tips One  Tips Two
  3. Employer research – We’ve mentioned this a few times in this blog and this blog and you will have already done this when you submitted your application but refresh yourself on this. if you don’t know anything about the organisation you’re about to sit down and talk with then they won’t want to have you on their team.
  4. STAR technique – This really helps to give structure to your answers, especially when it’s a behavioural/competency based question, and it stops you waffling! It’s also important to make sure you actually have examples ready to discuss (use the job description to give you clues) and that you are using specific enough examples that are as relevant as possible to the question and the organisation. If you’re not sure whether you’ve understood the question correctly, or whether you went into enough details it’s ok to clarify this with them. Here’s some more help on how to use STAR.
  5. Questions to ask – This shows your interest and also lets you find out more about the job. Don’t forget an interview is a two way street. One of my favourite questions is ‘what do you see as being the key challenges in this job?’ I find it really helps you decide if you like the job enough to handle it and it gives you a chance to address those challenges – for example, they may say it’s a constant juggling act between different tasks and you remember you answered an earlier question around that quite badly so now you can go back it and put them at ease.
  6. Saying thanks – At the end of the interview it’s always nice to thank the interviewers for their time and if you really want the job then tell them that. Sending a thank you email after the interview is also a nice thing to do. Plus if you think you stuffed up on any questions it’s a chance to briefly outline what you meant to say.
  7. Be confident – Attending several interviews and not getting anywhere is tough and can be draining and demotivating. Don’t let this come through in your next interview. Give yourself a pep talk before hand and remind yourself that you’ve made a great application and they do like you, otherwise you wouldn’t be getting an interview in the first place. Take pride in that and go in there ready to wow the socks off them.

As a final thing, if you don’t have access to a career consultant or family member or friend to do a mock interview with, you might like to record yourself doing an interview to see how you look and how you answer. Click here for a list of free, web-based and mobile solutions all designed to help you prepare for your next interview.

Vic students and graduates don’t forget we’re here for you to talk to: http://www.victoria.ac.nz/st_services/careers/students/career_advice.aspx

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Interview, Motivation, Opinion

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