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How to improve your interview technique

28 Mar 2018

There are books and books about how to excel at interviews. There is advice on what to wear. There are model psychometric tests on the internet. There are even role-play videos on YouTube. So, what are the best of these myriad sites, hints, tips, and dos and don’ts out there?

We take a look at the most successful ways to improve your interview technique and get that job.


As well as the obvious stuff - like research your company well, make sure you know where you are going, turn up early and brush your hair (you knew that, right) then these are the extra ways to get yourself noticed and improve your chances during your interview.

1.    Be prepared - more prepared

You have done your research. You know where you are going. But have you really prepared yourself? Do you know what kind of interview it is? Who are you meeting and for how long? First or second interview? Being prepared means really thinking about what this particular part of your journey entails. For example, when you research your company and find the website telling you how proud they are of their ISO 14001:2015 accreditation, it’s not enough to know that they have been awarded it. You need to know what it is, what they did to get it and what that means for the type of company they are. Here’s the deal on this one for example: it’s one of the world's most popular environmental management systems, so you’d consider how your experience can support this.

2. Dress well

Malcolm Gladwell, the American author of Blink (and The Tipping Point) suggests that many decisions are made spontaneously and subconsciously. So, when choosing your outfit, dress well. Google the business and its dress code. Clearly you can’t turn up to an interview in full high vis and safety boots, but you might not need a new suit.  Whatever you do wear, make sure it fits, it is clean, ironed and your shoes look good. How many times have you seen someone in jeans and a shirt look far smarter than someone in a badly fitting suit? Look like you care. If you don’t, then you may struggle to convince your potential employer that you pay attention to detail.

3. Research market forces and future trends (see our article here)

Increasingly common are the future-tech questions, which can catch you out if you don’t think about them in advance. For example, ‘What do you think is the biggest threat facing the construction industry?’. Or, ‘How do you think technology will affect construction in the future?’. As it happens, we’ve done that homework for you here. Being aware of future trends means that you think ahead and are aware of not just your role in the business, but the business’ role in the wider industry. Sign up to industry newsletters and trend websites. Looking forward is looking for future improvements. Standing still is what Woolworths did.

4. Smile - at everyone

We know of businesses who ask everyone their thoughts about candidates coming for interview. One of the most important people you’ll meet is often the receptionist. Annoy them and they’re very likely to happily pass that information on when your interviewer asks, “What did you think of them?”. You can pass all the psychometric tests on earth, but you can’t fake manners, kindness and a genuine smile.

5. Sit up straight and make eye contact

Your nana was right. Slouch and stare out of the window and you might as well go straight home. Oh and do not fidget.

6. Sign up to Google Alerts

Make sure you get the latest company news, via Google Alerts. You can close them down afterwards if you want. And don’t forget to follow the company on whatever social channels you are on. If you’re not attempting to look interested, well, you’re not really that interested are you? We know companies that have hired after building relationships on Twitter. True stuff. It works. After your interview make sure you like a few Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts too - it keeps you visible.

7. Tidy up your Twitter account (and everything else)

As well as influencing over hiring, it goes without saying that it negatively influences, too. Tidy up your accounts and make sure that you stand behind everything you’ve posted (or make sure you’ve locked it down). Preferably both. And review your likes and your follows, while you’re at it. Make sure that cute British Bulldog isn’t a fascist group in disguise. We’ve all heard the horror stories. It’s an avoidable mistake and takes about an hour of your time.

8. Follow up and send an email (even to HR)

It’s another old school tip that really works. During the interview ask recruiters if they have any concerns or feel that there are any barriers to you getting the job. If you can, counter them (politely and with evidence) and if not, make a note to answer them later. Once you’re returned home do a mini-debrief of your interview and consider the skills gap, or concerns explained during the interview. Then, email the recruiter, or your HR contact, with some written thoughts on how you can improve, or where you feel you could have better explained yourself. As they say: offer solutions, not problems.

9. You’re interviewing them too

Find some genuine questions that you’d like to know. These should not include the holiday policy or if they have an early close on Fridays. Find some questions that you’d find useful and show that you’ve considered your role, your career progression and how it all fits within the wider business. When you get home consider whether you really like the business. If you’re hesitant and get offered a second interview, make sure you address your concerns one way or the other for your own peace of mind.

10. Banter is OK

After all, very few people ever hire someone that they don’t like. Sharing an anecdote or funny moment is part of getting to know someone. They need to like you to hire you. You have to be part of the team. So be friendly, chat about your hobbies and be interested in the company culture. If you don’t like sports don’t pretend you do, or you could end up on the company football team wondering how you can tell them you’re more into opera. It happens. Don’t fake it.

PSR’s award-winning construction recruitment specialists are committed to helping each of our candidates find their dream job. Contact us in confidence, register or send us your CV and let’s get started.

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