Whilst your skills and experience play a key part in securing an interview it’ll be your ability to communicate effectively, build rapport and give practical examples beyond your competition that’ll land you the job offer.
When you are interviewing for a role within Technology or Analytics, in addition to the standard interview questions you will be asked during a job interview, you will be asked more focused and specific technical questions about your education, skills, certifications, languages, and tools you have expertise in. Use the STAR interview response technique to generate examples to share during the interview.
Knowing the background of your interviewer will also allow you to strategically tailor your approach – if for example your research uncovers that the interviewer specialises in a field you’re particularly interested in, you can then find a way to mention this in one of your responses to establish a rapport.
Being able to weave in specific information about the company into your responses shows you’re prepared and also had the initiative to do your own research. If you are interviewing with a startup, download their app and spend some time learning how it works. If there are features or design decisions you don’t understand, or if you have ideas on how you could improve something, these are great questions to ask (politely) when it’s your turn. Just make sure you are also respectful and complimentary.
They say first impressions are everything, what you wear can mean a lot in a job interview and the right clothes can make you look professional and help you feel more confident. I would strongly suggest researching the company you're applying to see what type of an organisation it is. I don’t know many companies where data scientists, designers or developers wear suits. Many tech companies are much more casual and the key thing to keep in mind is that you never want to look under-dressed. If you are not to sure, don’t be scared to ask the recruiter or company prior to the interview in terms of dress code of the organisation.
In order to feel confident, it really helps to know what you should prepare for. So, when you're invited to the interview, it's perfectly reasonable for you to ask about the company’s process. Some companies do coding tests prior to interviews, others have a casual interview over coffee, while others have a very formal process with multiple sections. Some companies now will ask you to do a sample project, and then present back to them, so don’t panic.
Dress appropriately, make eye contact, give a firm handshake, have good posture, speak clearly, and don't wear perfume or cologne which is overly powerful! Sometimes interview locations are small rooms that may lack good air circulation.
Keeping arms open and uncrossed will communicate a warm and friendly message and sitting tall with your back against the back of the seat will communicate a message of confidence. Many interviewers report that bad interviews most often contain little to no eye contact! Furthermore, hand gestures can be an essential part of your message to the interviewer. Simple, infrequent hand gestures help emphasise what you are saying—however, avoid pointing or using too many hand gestures, as this can make you appear fidgety and disingenuous. Playing with your hair or touching your face can also make you appear unprofessional, so if you are unsure what to do with your hands, folding them together and holding them in your lap is an easy, neutral gesture that you can hold until the initial nervousness decreases and you begin to deliver those great answers that you prepared earlier.
Soft skills are valued in today's workforce, regardless of your job. Your future boss wants to make sure she can trust you to interact well with peers, suppliers and, most importantly, clients. Employers are becoming more willing to invest in a well-spoken junior resource who can be trained rather than a guru who does not communicate well.
Communication. Communication comes in three types – verbal, written and body language. Learn to communicate effectively in one or more of these mediums.
Adaptability. Being adaptable means more than “going with the flow” or learning to work in an ever-changing environment. Adaptability requires you to think outside of the box and offer more innovative, creative ideas.
Problem Solving. Do you like logic or crossword puzzles? Those tasks take a patient, persistent mind. Most importantly, hiring managers seek problem solvers who can optimise their business services. Just be prepared to show them how you solved a problem. Bring a few examples to the interview.
Observation. Learning to do a job and perform well isn’t enough. Companies see new ideas and recommendations as key to preventing business stagnation. Prove to the hiring manager you have ample critical thinking skills. Instead of showing results, show how you developed an idea or analysed information.
Some interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes of the interview – and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision! Start off with a positive comment about the company – something like
"I've really been looking forward to this meeting [not "interview"]. I think [the company] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I'm really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute."
Being honest in an interview means being honest about your qualifications, about your experience, and – arguably most importantly – about your skill set. If you mention that you have Python or SQL in your interview, for example, when you’re not even at an intermediate level, there is a very good chance you’ll be found out.
One of the most common instances of dishonesty in an interview occurs when the interviewee is asked a technical question which they don’t know how to answer. If you’re caught in this situation, be honest and say that you’re not sure, but you are happy to learn.
Remember that authenticity and humility can be seen as a strength, in spite of the revelation of shortcomings.
Practising job interviews is a good way to get used to talking about yourself and why people should hire you. Doing a practise interview can also help you to be less nervous when you go in for the real thing.
You can rehearse for an interview at home by yourself or with a friend or family member. There are simple ways to practice including using flash cards, dressing in interview clothes to practice, and recording yourself interviewing then playing it back to see how you did.
It's one thing to come prepared with a mental answer to a question like, "Why should we hire you?" It's another challenge entirely to say it out loud in a confident and convincing way. The first time you try it, you'll sound garbled and confused, no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind! Do it another 10 times, and you'll sound a lot smoother and more articulate.
A positive attitude is more than just being cheerful and easygoing. It’s about being keen to take on the work you’re asked to do, being willing to try new things and not getting angry and defensive when you make a mistake. Think positive. This might seem overly simplistic, but it works. Prior to interview time, take some time to get yourself mentally prepared. Think about some of your greatest professional achievements and recall some of the major hurdles that you overcame in your career. A quick act of positive thinking will help get your mind right and boost your confidence.
No one likes a complainer, so don't dwell on negative experiences during an interview. Even if the interviewer asks you point blank, "What languages do you not like working with?" or "What did you like least about your previous job?" don't answer the question. Or more specifically, don't answer it as it's been asked. Instead, put a positive spin on how you answer the question, ‘I do like working with all languages but I particular enjoy coding in Reactjs’ or ‘I have been with my previous employer for a number of years and felt it was time to seek out a new challenge’.
One of the most common interview styles today is to ask people to describe experiences they have had that demonstrate behaviours that the company thinks are important for a particular position. You might be asked to talk about a time when you made an unpopular decision, displayed a high level of persistence, or made a decision under time pressure and with limited information. In our interview preparation guide, we cover many questions you should be prepared for before your next interview and help you answer them.