How to nail THAT interview and bag your dream job

By Emma Serlin
January 22, 2020

When we imagine how the coming year will be, some of us will feel vaguely disheartened, because there is a disconnect between the year we want and the year that our job determines we will have.

It’s easy to write that off as January blues. To tell ourselves that it’s not so bad, the grass is never greener, it’s all in our head. At the risk of doing anything hasty, we say, let’s just see how the next year goes...

And we postpone our happiness for another twelve months.

Changing our course might not mean going to a new company, or sitting down for a formal interview. There are plenty of start-of-year conversations with employers that have turned into opportunities to reshape your current job, or to get a promotion. There’s always the chance you might not succeed, but if it matters to you, it’s worth going after. You can’t sit with inertia any longer.

This month we’re focusing on investing in yourself. It’s a chance to step back from the grind, to remember what really matters and to take steps to achieve what is actually important to us. And if that’s getting a new job, then that’s what you need to invest your time, energy and possibly even money in.

So how do you go about finding that dream job?


It’s all about values

One of the core - but often overlooked - ways you can prepare for getting a new role - whether in your own company or a different one - is to check this job really is the one you want. If your heart is in this, it’s going to be far easier to engage the employer authentically. They’ll feel your enthusiasm, without you needing to tell them.

If your values align with your employer, you can point out all the ways in which they connect. More than your skills, this will show the interviewer that you belong at that company. This is something we spend a lot of time working on with our clients, helping them to understand and highlight their USPs.

For every value you mention, you need an example of how it has played a role in your life. A value without an example is as good as a lie to the interviewer. So the more specific you can be with your examples, the more likely it is they’ll believe you.


The interview starts long before you arrive

You’re building rapport long before you sit down in the interview. It starts from the moment you apply, or when you email the HR team for clarity on an element of the role a week or two before the interview. It might be a tiny start to the conversation, but it’s still an important moment of connection.  I find it impossible to understand that people apply for a job without some kind of cover letter or intro email.  This is your first chance to strike up a conversation. 

Once you've secured an interview, it’s worth arriving early, and not just because it’s inexcusable to be late. Getting there early allows you to settle, to have conversations with employees in the entrance hall, to take in the surroundings. Anything you notice might make for a way-in to small talk with an interviewer. 


First impressions count

While we’d all love to be a little less prejudice, snap judgements are hard to dislodge, even for an impartial interviewer. Why? Because our gut instincts are often right.

So first impressions really do count and it's worth checking out these tips on making a powerful first impression. It's important to think about your body language and to work on overcoming nerves so that you give a confident first impression. Spend some time practising your eye contact, your handshake, and making sure you smile.

This isn’t about pretending, it’s about tapping into that enthusiasm you found when you first thought about this company and this role. You just need to let all of you show up.


Smash that small talk

It’s not just the apparently important conversation that matters. The little exchanges you might have about the weather, the journey in, the site of the office all count. Employers are looking for people they connect with and will enjoy working with.

Even the most insignificant of remarks can be a lead-in for a conversation of weight, or of lighter connection. Simply being yourself will go a long way here. 


Hone your key messages

You’re not trying to cram as many facts as you can into a 10-minute window. The more focused and considered your answers (and questions), the better. Condensing what you offer and what you’re looking for into three key points is a good start. Any more than that and you’ll likely run out of time, or fail to do each point justice. Your interviewer can only remember so much. 

Your three points can be simple, but you should have a concrete example for each of those points. ‘I’m ready for the challenge of managing a team’ should be backed up by an example of when you used the necessary skills. ‘I combine compliance experience with technical expertise’ requires an example of when that benefited a business you worked for. And, ‘In my career I’ve developed an extensive digital transformational skill-set’ needs a seriously good case study to make it real.

In this blog post we explain the STAR method - the perfect way to help you prepare consciously and intentionally, so you can respond to the questions that come up, do yourself justice and ultimately secure the job of your dreams.


Ask questions as if they’re answers

While you’re technically the one being interviewed, your questions count as much as your answers. When you ask about the ins and outs of their flexible working scheme, it shows you’re serious about planning to settle in for the job. If you ask the interviewer what their work/life balance is like, it shows you’re picturing yourself in that company. 

An interviewer on a panel once noted that the most interesting question they’d ever been asked was, “What do you enjoy most about working here?” You’re revealing a kind of initiative that you can’t show by only responding to questions.


If this is the job that you’ve been waiting for, it’s worth investing all you can to pull it off. 

Go for it and good luck!

Emma x


There are some things you can’t learn from a blog post - the nuances of how you speak, the way you think you communicate versus the way you actually communicate, your unconscious body language - so it’s important to reach out for help.

Our Interview Technique course will help you to be powerful and effective when it matters most. Don’t postpone your dream role for another year. It might only be a moment away.

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