Job interviews are often seen as a necessary evil – a way for employers to weed out the best candidates from the rest. With some preparation, you can do well in an interview – even if you’re the type of person who isn’t very good at selling themselves in person.
Here are some interview tips to help you make the best possible impression and increase your chances of getting the job.
Why Job Interviews Are A Nerve-Wracking Experience.
There are a few key reasons why job interviews can be so tough on your nervous system:
- You’re being judged: In an interview, you are essentially being put on trial. The interviewer is there to determine if you’re the right fit for a particular position, and you can’t help but feel like you’re being judged.
- You have no control: In an interview, you have no control over the outcome. No matter how well you prepare or how confident you are, the decision is ultimately up to the interviewer.
- You’re under pressure: Interviews can be high-pressure situations, and it’s easy to feel like you have to perform perfectly. Any mistake can cost you the job, so it’s easy to clam up and not know what to say.
But, with a bit of interview preparation and practice, you can learn to control your nerves and make a great impression.
Your Job Interview Starts 24 Hours Earlier.
This is the biggest secret of interview success.
You must put yourself in a position where you won’t have to rush, and surprises won’t fluster you. You must be prepared.
This is why your interview technically begins 24 hours before its official start time. During this period, you must:
- Pick out your clothes the day before (more about how to dress appropriately later) and try them on. If something doesn’t look or feel right, fix it.
- Learn your route to ensure that you arrive early. If you plan to take public transport, check the timetables. If you plan to drive, ensure that an unexpected lack of parking won’t derail you.
- Don’t try to cram anything else in. If someone asks you to adjust your plans (e.g., “darling, could you drop Johnny off at school today?”), be prepared to firmly say no. This is one time you’re allowed to be very selfish.
- Allow plenty of buffers in case something unexpected happens. Yes, bus driver strikes always happen on your interview days. It’s an unspoken law.
- Read through the job description again, making sure that you’re clear about what the company is looking for.
- Read through your resume again, making sure you can speak to each of your roles, mandates and achievements.
How To Dress For Job Interviews.
Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, but dressing appropriately can help you feel more confident. Here are some tips on how to dress:
- Be aware of the dress code of the company you are interviewing with. If in doubt, err on the side of being more formal.
- When interviewing at a startup, wear smart slacks or dark coloured jeans.
- When interviewing for corporate jobs, wear a suit – unless you are told otherwise.
- For women, a knee-length or midi skirt can also work.
- Wear flats or small heels with closed toes.
- Choose a blouse or shirt that fits well, avoiding low-cut tops.
- Wear a blazer or jacket if you feel it is necessary.
- Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free.
- Avoid wearing too much makeup or perfume/cologne.
- Choose clothing that is comfortable and not too tight or revealing.
Learn To Answer The 5 Hardest Interview Questions.
We certainly don’t advocate rote learning answers to these verbatim (please don’t), but you must not encounter the hardest and most commonly asked questions for the first time in the interview room.
Practice interviewing in the weeks leading up to the interview. Specifically, rehearse succinct and to-the-point answers to the following questions.
1. “What are your greatest strengths?”
Most of us are terrible at selling ourselves. We freeze up and say something that sells us very short of our rear potential (thanks, Australian tall poppy syndrome!).
It is important to remember that your interviewer is not looking for modesty, they want to see if you have qualities that match the job requirements.
Therefore, do not be afraid to toot your own horn a bit and list some of your best qualities.
2. “What are your greatest weaknesses?”
This is another show-stopper. You do not want to list a quality that would completely disqualify you from the job, but you also do not want to lie or make up a fake weakness (don’t even think about saying “I’m a workaholic”).
The best way to approach this question is to think of a weakness that is not a deal-breaker and list it in a way that shows you are aware of it and working on improving it.
3. “Why do you want this job?”
Your interviewer will be looking to see if your motivation for wanting the job matches the company’s needs.
They will also be looking to see if you have researched the company and understand what the job entails. Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the job description, the company’s challenges, and the bigger strategic picture.
4. “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
This question is designed to see if you are looking for long-term employment with the company or if you will move on as soon as a better opportunity comes along.
It is important to show that you are looking for a long-term commitment and that you have thought about your long-term career goals.
5. “What do you think of our company?”
This question is another way of seeing if you have done your research on the company. The interviewer will be looking to see if you have a positive opinion of the company and if you are familiar with its products, services, and mission.
What Not To Say During Job Interviews.
When you’re in a job interview, there are certain things you should avoid saying if you don’t want to turn off the hiring manager. Here are the most common landmines:
- Don’t badmouth your current or previous employer. This will make you look unprofessional and difficult to work with.
- Don’t talk about how much money you want or need. This will make you seem greedy and uninterested in the job itself.
- Don’t talk about your personal life. This is an interview, not a therapy session. The hiring manager doesn’t need to know about your relationship problems or family drama.
- Don’t get defensive. If the interviewer asks you a tough question, take a deep breath and answer calmly and honestly. Getting defensive will only make you look like you’re hiding something.
- Don’t ramble. Stick to the point and keep your answers short and sweet. The hiring manager doesn’t have time to listen to your life story.
What Are The Top 3 Body Language Mistakes?
Body language amounts to over 80% of our communication. Yes, it technically means that what you actually say is almost irrelevant.
Here’s how to ensure that you send all the right non-verbal cues to your potential employer.
1. Make eye contact.
When you don’t maintain eye contact, you signal that you’re not interested or engaged in the conversation. This habit can also make you seem shifty or untrustworthy. Be sure to look hiring managers and recruiters in the eye.
2. Be upright (not uptight)
Slouching conveys disinterest and a lack of confidence. Sit up straight and avoid crossing your arms, which can make you seem defensive.
3. Don’t fidget.
Touching your face or fidgeting with your clothing is a sign of nerves and can make you appear insecure. Keep your hands still and avoid touching your face or hair.
Learn The Company’s Interview Process.
The length and structure of your interview process will vary depending on the employer.
Some employers will have an elaborate process that consists of several interviews with the same person, followed by psychometric tests and panel interviews.
In contrast, others will only have one or two interviews in store for you.
Here is a typical hiring process:
- Screening interview: This is typically the first interview stage. It can be conducted over the phone or in person. This interview aims to eliminate candidates who are definitely not a fit for the position.
- In-person interview: The next interview is often conducted by a recruiter. This interview aims to get to know the candidate better and see if they are worthy of being presented to the hiring manager.
- Second interview: This is typically conducted by the hiring manager. The company’s HR person may also be present. This is the big one. You usually seal the deal or ruin your chances here. No pressure, ha.
- Third interview: This may be conducted if the employer is still undecided about you, or a panel interview is part of the journey.
Don’t assume that every employer will follow this hiring process.
Ask the employer about their specific interview process. You need to know how the specific interview you’re about to attend fits in the overall process and what interview stage will occur next.
Prepare 5 Questions To Ask The Hiring Manager.
Answering interview questions is just as important as asking prepared questions of your own.
When you ask your interviewer good questions, you signal that you’re engaged and interested in the role and gives you the opportunity to learn more about the company, its culture and the person who could be your next boss.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- “Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?”
- “How would you describe the team dynamic and culture here at the company?”
- “What challenges has this department/team faced recently, and how were they addressed?”
- “What are the company’s plans for growth in the next few years?”
- “What are the biggest priorities for this role in the next 12 months?”
How To Follow Up After Job Interviews
You’ve done it! You’ve nailed the interview questions, and you’re feeling good about your chances. But now what? How do you follow up after a job interview without being annoying or seeming desperate?
Here are a few tips on how to do just that:
1. Send a thank-you note.
This is a must. You should always send a thank-you note to your interviewer, preferably within 24 hours of the interview. This shows that you are interested in the position and appreciate the time they took to speak with you.
2. Check in, but don’t overdo it.
Once you’ve sent your thank-you note, it’s okay to check in with the interviewer to see if they have any updates. But don’t do this more than once or twice. You don’t want to seem like you’re pestering them.
3. Be patient.
The interview process can take a while, so it’s important to be patient and not get too discouraged if you don’t hear back right away.
4. Keep looking.
Even if you think you did well in the interview, keep looking and interviewing for other positions. You miss 100% of shots that you don’t take.
5. Be prepared for rejection.
Unfortunately, most interviews do not result in job offers. This is a normal but brutal nature of the job search process.
If you find yourself getting discouraged, reframe the rejection as an opportunity for improvement and a learning experience.
The key to success during a job interview is preparation. Do your research about the company, practice your answers to common interview questions, and dress to impress.
Do you have any secret interview tips for someone who is about to start interviewing? Which interview questions have tripped you up? Let us know in the comments below!