You have applied for a position that matches you perfectly, and a call comes in asking you to come down for an interview. You prepare yourself by researching the company and printing out all your relevant documents, then sit down to prepare for the interview itself.
But in this age of connectivity, searching for “interview tips” yields hundreds of results. From the specifics of how to dress to model answers to tough questions, there is a surfeit of information out there. And sadly, not all of the information is useful. Some of it may be irrelevant, too old, or tailored to a particular industry or country.
While you could read through every article and note down every bullet point, that may take more time or energy than you have.
Hence, we have done the work for you! The five pointers below are the job interview essentials. Regardless of the industry or position you’re interviewing for, these are the must-dos if you want to give a good interview and hopefully score the job.
1. Prepare and practice
Before you go for an interview, prepare some “selling points” about why you are perfect for the job. Make sure your examples are evidence-based, clear and measurable. For example, “I noted this position requires leadership skills. In my previous company, I led a team of 20 people and we improved our ROI by 5%.”
You should also prepare for specific questions. These include common interview questions (“Tell me about yourself”), difficult questions (“We noted a gap of three months in your CV, could you tell us more about it?”) and industry-specific questions (“How good are you at Photoshop?”).
When you have finished preparing, practice! Much like performing on stage, you should rehearse your answers so that you can respond smoothly and confidently during the interview itself. It is especially important to practice aloud, repeating your answers a few times until they come easily to you.
2. Have questions for the interviewer
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will normally ask if you have any questions about them or the organisation. The worst reply you can give is “no”. It says that you are not interested in the company and what it does.
Prepare some intelligent questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge of the company as well as your serious intent. A good idea is to prepare some questions about the company’s ongoing projects, or the scope of their work. For example, you could reference a newspaper article they featured in, and use that as a springboard to detail how you fit into their plans for future development.
You can also ask if they need clarification on any of the points in your CV or previous work experience. Remember to “sell yourself” in the answer to these questions – highlight your strengths and how you overcome difficulties, and leave a good impression.
3. Body language
A job interview is a tightrope walk in some ways. You want to present yourself as confident, but not arrogant; intelligent, but not a know-it-all.
Your body language is integral in this respect, be it on video call or in-person. Posture, gestures, movements or facial expressions can shape our reputations.
Remember to give a clear and professional greeting, sit upright in your chair, and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. If you are unsure what to do with your hands, go ahead and gesture to emphasise your points.
While it is important to present a good image, it is also important to relax! Someone who is too nervous or trying too hard to do all the correct things may seem like he/she has something to hide. Read the body language of your interviewer and match it, this will help the interview go more easily.
4. Have confidence
Some interviewees unintentionally take an adversarial stance during interviews, as though “fighting” with the interviewer to get a job.
Having confidence in yourself will help you and interviewer see the job interview for what it really is, a dialogue between two people. Your confidence will serve as a good sign that you know yourself and the job, and show how suitable you are for it.
We mentioned preparing for your interview above. If you prepare for your interview well, you will naturally gain confidence.
You can also do some exercises to “psych” yourself up before the interview so that you can present your best self. You may wish to remind yourself of past successes, or imagine yourself scoring the job.
5. Send thank you notes!
Yes, you need to send a thank-you note after an interview. This is not optional.
Your follow-up keeps you in the employer’s mind, and gives them a favourable impression of you. After all, the thank-you note says you are interested and invested in the job, and open to further communication regarding the opportunity.
Also, this is your final sales-pitch to a potential employer. Use this opportunity to briefly speak on your strengths again, and mention something that happened during the interview so that the employer can place who you are. Also, if you stumbled on a question during the interview, work your better answer into the note.
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