You’ve gone through sample questions, practised your answers and can recite your skills and experience in your sleep. But although preparation is essential, overdoing it could actually jeopardise your chances at making it through the interview.
Of course it’s important to prepare, and to know what you should expect. However, although it may seem tempting to simply plan your answers ahead of time and memorise them, these sorts of textbook responses are a no-no when it comes to the interview.
If you’ve learned your answers word-for-word, it’s easy to come across as robotic and, therefore, forgettable. Your interview is a chance for you to show your character and personality – don’t waste it!
It may not be what you expect
Working in the Fire and Rescue Service, adaptability and thinking on your feet are essential aptitudes. You want to show that you’re capable of dealing with unexpected issues when they arise.
Too much preparation can also lead to panic if you’re asked a question you weren’t expecting. Don’t just say the first thing that comes into your head, or regurgitate an answer you’ve prepared in advance just because it sounds good. Make sure it’s relevant.
Try to sound spontaneous
If a question throws you, take a moment to think carefully before answering. It’s better to pause for a while than to babble about something the interviewer didn’t actually ask you.
Great phrases to fill in for thinking time could be, ‘That’s a great question. I’m going to think about that for a minute.’ You could also talk the interviewer through your thought processes if you’re worried about awkward silences.
Practise with a friend
An excellent way to get some real practice in is to ask a friend to help you. Get them to ask you questions, without you knowing which ones or in which order they’re going to come. This will help you develop a more conversational, genuine interview technique.
Adapt your examples
It’s still a good idea to have a list of pre-prepared examples of your real-life experiences – but writing them in bullet point format will help you to talk about them while avoiding sounding as if you’re reading from a book.
You may well need to tailor your examples to a specific question. Again, having a friend ask you a variety of questions will mean that you can practise talking about each example, changing it slightly to fit in with what you’re being asked.
Remind yourself that you know what you’re talking about and can back up your words with real-life examples of your actions, skills and experience.
After that, the most important thing is to relax. Don’t let nerves get the better of you. Stick to a conversational, story-telling style and your answers should flow easily.
Need more handy tips?
If you want to really boost your chances of making it through the interview, you can check out our Interview Workbook here.