So, you land yourself an interview. Good job! What’s next?
Do you remember your first interview?
Were you nervous and full of worry?
So were we.
Whether you have an upcoming interview or if it’s your first or 10th interview – we still get nervous. We can’t help it. We seek to leave a positive and memorable impression. After all, the interview determines the outcome of the job position we applied for.
An interview is a meeting, consultation, and evaluation of a person for an open job position. Interviews are an assessment for the employer to decide whether you’re a suitable candidate to fit into the company’s culture and values. It’s difficult to assume what kind of questions you may be asked, or what each interviewer is looking for, and more importantly, how do you differentiate yourself among other candidates?
1) Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare
This is what most of us will do before an interview: prepare.
However, don’t be surprised when you hear people going to interviews without doing their research beforehand. What we humble beings do not realise is we massively underestimate the degree of preparedness we should have.
How do you prepare for an interview? Be keen. Think of the company as a new friend you want to learn more about so that you can deepen your relationship with. Most companies have a website and relevant social media channels. They’re your best assets in finding almost everything you need and should know. Reading the latest news about the company and even mentioning any recent achievements or awards is bound to impress the interviewer that you’re earnest in this position and the company.
This is a good way to differentiate yourself among the other candidates. This is because the biggest pet peeve any interviewer can encounter is an ignorant interviewee. It’s the little details that count and determine whether you get the job.
The job scope you see on the job ad is only the tip of the iceberg. You need to do more research in finding out the details and essential skills to have for it so that you’re able to ask the right questions and understand how you can contribute further.
2) Come Up with a List of Questions and Answers
The best thing you can do for yourself is to come up with a list of questions and answers. Thinking about potential questions and preparing the answers to them give you an edge over others you can possibly imagine. It’s one of the greatest tips to possess. It also helps you gain confidence and develop a high self-esteem during the interview.
One can easily tell whether you did your preparation. The interviewer is ready to assess you, but how ready are you as an interviewee?
Some common questions you may faced are:
“Tell me about yourself.”
Firstly, don’t go rambling on how many siblings and dogs you have. The interviewer is clearly not interested. This is a question on self-introduction. Say your name, highest education level, work experience, and what is your next professional step.
“Do you know what we do?”
This question can either minus or add points to your interview. It tells the interviewer whether you did your “homework”. Some interviewers take this very seriously and evaluate a person’s character and attitude about his work based on whether he took the effort to prepare beforehand and have a good idea of what the company he wants to work for does.
“Why do you think you’re suitable for this position?”
This is a tough nut to crack. The good news is, there’s no right or wrong answer. You say what you feel. Use your past work experience or any training you received to help you tackle this question. It’s perfectly okay to have confidence in yourself and speak highly of your skills as long as you have proof to validate your claims.
and other open-ended questions.
Sometimes we think we’re well-prepared until a surprise question catches us off guard. You can’t predict what questions you will be asked, but you can choose answer them honestly and try your best. The interviewer may give you a problem and would like to hear your opinion. Once again, there’s no right or wrong answer as there’re many solutions to solve a problem.
Since the interview comprises of questions and answers, the more prepared you are, the more you can ace the interview and increase your chances of being selected.
3) Punctuality and Dress for the Job You Want
Ever heard of the saying, “Dress for the job you want”? This is it.
In my experience, punctuality is a crucial factor in an interview. It was a group interview and the ones who were late were never offered a seat and neither did they got hired.
Arriving on time is fundamental for creating a good first impression. Since the interviewer haven’t seen or spoke to you in real time yet, he judges you based on other factors such as punctuality, attire sense, handshake, and your overall presentation. Therefore, tardiness is incongruous with good first impressions. For attire, it’s quintessential to dress formally and be well-suited, not in your everyday casual attire. Unless you’re taking this interview as a joke.
Don’t spend too much time on your phone and pay more attention to your surroundings, looking out for signs when the interviewer is calling for you. Many times, interviewers choose to observe and judge an interviewee’s character non-verbally. This helps them decide whether your personality would fit in with the team and culture.
4) Maintain a Sense of Professionalism in Your Words and Actions
Sometimes, one can’t help but ramble and get carried away in his stories. This is not good.
The interviewer is not your friend. Never be too informal no matter how welcoming or friendly the interviewer seems, as this is still a professional meeting. Speaking too little is also problematic as the interviewer have to prompt you in providing answers he wants to hear and this creates an impression that you were inept in your preparation. It may also seem like you’re disinterested and not willing to “fight” for this position.
There’s also a high possibility that your future employer may question you on why you left your previous job. This is the time for you to clarify your reason and not badmouth your previous employers or employees. They’re not meeting you to initiate gossip. The interviewer is not a fool and won’t be convinced by your one-sided story. Your words speak louder about you and how you feel about yourself rather than others. If you left your previous job on bad terms, no matter how unfair you felt, move on. Don’t bring others down. You can start by saying you’re looking for a new working environment to improve and further develop yourself. Focus on YOU.
5) Answering Questions About Mistakes
You and I are no different when it comes to making mistakes. We all make mistakes.
There will undoubtedly be questions asking you about previous job mistakes, which is a sensitive topic that could either make or break your application. No matter how hard we try to efface our mistakes, they cannot be avoided.
As a wise one once said, “The past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited or erased; it can only be accepted.”
The thing is though, the interviewer is not interested about what the mistake is, but how you conquer and learn from it.
Many fumble as they face difficulty in admitting their failures. Some may even deny they ever made a mistake. However, don’t use this time to show your interviewer you’re ashamed or tell your sob story. Instead, use it as an opportunity to prove what you’ve learnt and how apt you’re in overcoming challenges.
If you have anxiety towards questions addressing mistakes, remind yourself that failures are stepping stones to success and you shouldn’t run away from them. Your mistakes don’t define who you’re. So, don’t let them control you. Take control of your attitude and perspective and use them to prove yourself as a better candidate for these jobs.
6) Stay Calm and Go with the Flow
During on of my interviews in the past, I expected many different questions from the interviewers. However, the final question to me was, “If you could travel to any city, where would you like to go?” When I replied with “London”, they questioned me, “How far do you think London is from New Jersey? How many flight hours?”
I was puzzled as to why I was asked this question and how it’s related to the interview. However, I chose to remain calm and replied confidently with a smile that I was unsure but managed to give them an answer. A week later, I got a callback and was offered the position. I realised that the question was meant to throw me off so that they could see how I would react.
Interviews are the doors to new opportunities. This fact can highly stress some of us out and lead us to sabotaging our own future prospects. Therefore, choose to stay calm and go with the flow in any situation. All questions have purpose in them. Keeping your cool and staying composed is the most essential trick one can have up his sleeve. Think positively and tell yourself, “I can do this. I will do this. I am well-prepared and am capable of getting this position.”
Believe in your potential and the interviewer will believe in you! All the best and shine through!
Like this article? Share it or leave us a comment below!