So you’ve secured the job interview. Hours spent scanning the depths of the internet for the perfect job has paid off, and you got the call that the company wants to meet you. Great news! You let out a quick happy dance in jubilation until you are hit with the question…Now what? Now you are faced with the dreaded job interview. Suddenly you have a flashback of you sitting outside the meeting room of your last job interview, trying to calm your pounding nerves with steady breathing exercises, whilst stealthily checking for sweat stains.
Job interviews are stressful because of the potential that they hold. You might be meeting your next employer, the person that could help take your career to new heights. Unfortunately interviews are an integral part of recruitment, and are not going anywhere anytime soon. It is thus best to embrace it, and formulate the best approach to foster a positive experience.
Here are some tips to ease your job interview experience, in both your preparation for it and your performance in the actual interview.
- Do your research. Prior to the job interview, you should read up as much as possible on the company you will be interviewing for. This shows that you care about the company, and are well-read. Things you should know before entering the job interview: the company’s history, its purpose, its customers, collaborators, capabilities, its ethos, and its culture. This way, you are not walking in blank, but coming armed with prior knowledge that shows your interest in the company.
- Update your social media platforms. In this day and age, your social media imprint is often deeply woven into your work. Unfortunately, despite social media originally being designed as a personal means of communication, it has become greatly intersected with business. Companies don’t want an employee that alienates people or has a negative reputation online, because it might reflect badly on them. It is thus incredibly likely that recruiters will look you up on social media to gain more information about you and whether you are a good fit for their company. LinkedIn is an incredibly important site in the professional sphere. Make sure your sites are updated, and professional. As much as possible, try to steer clear of controversial topics, or any images that place you in a bad light. Try not to overshare on social media.
- Dress for success. It is the ultimate cliché, but it cannot be denied that the way you look reflects who you are. Make sure your clothing is clean and wrinkle free. In your research phase, you should have found enough information about the company to assume their work culture. Dress according to that. For example, if you are interviewing in a more relaxed, creative field, feel free to be a bit bolder with your fashion choices. If your workplace is quite conservative and formal, aim for a more business appropriate look. Do not feel pressured to wear makeup or wear your hair in a particular style if that is not what you usually do. Remember, you still want to be yourself, just the best version of you.
- Be on time! This is the easiest way to start the interview on the right note. The rule of thumb is to always be 10 minutes early. Take this time to focus your mental state, and prep yourself. This gives you enough time to gather yourself, so that you are not out of breathe and frazzled for the interview. It is incredibly rude to make someone wait for you when you had committed to a specific time. Remember that your interviewers have jobs too, and need to stick to a schedule. Furthermore, being on time shows that you have time-management skills, which is an important soft skill to have.
- Be confident, but not overly confident. Remember that you were elected for the job interview because there was somebody who liked what you bring to the table. They know your qualifications, and think you would be a good match. Because of this, you’ve already got a foot in the door. The next step to getting your whole body in, is to impress them with your personality. Speak up about your qualifications, and take pride in them. However, it is important to find a balance between promoting yourself and being overly self-centered. Try to stick to the job at hand and how you are perfect for it.
- Be aware of your body language. Non-verbal communication often plays a large part in interviews. Having a strong handshake, avoiding crossing your arms and avoiding fidgeting, maintaining eye contact, and smiling (not creepily!) are important. Remember not to interrupt your interviewer. Do not check your phone or look at your watch, as this can be read as disinterested and rude.
- Use the STAR model. The STAR model stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, and is designed to help your interviewer understand your behavior and application tactics. For example, a common question interviewers might ask is how you would respond to a specific scenario. These questions will always be related to a facet of the job you are interviewing for. Here, they want to understand how you would behave in situations, and whether your response matches with their company culture. The best way to approach a question like this is to incorporate a real-life example, thus showing off your accomplishments. First contextualise the situation, then explain the task that was expected of you. The third step is to describe the actions you took and the motives behind these decisions. Finally, you should end with a synopsis of the result. This is the time to show off your strengths. This model aids in organizing your thoughts and response
- Know your hard and soft skills. Hard skills refer to the specific knowledge and skills required for the job, eg experience in Excel, knowledge of SEO etc. Essentially, these are the skills that can be measured and quantified. While hard skills are imperative, soft skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace. These are the qualitative, interpersonal skills that help facilitate your work experience. Without them, your hard skills are almost meaningless. The future workplace will rely on these. For example, your ability to be flexible, be a team player, accept feedback, communicate effectively and think creatively are all examples of important soft skills that will support practically every job out there. Come prepared with an explanation of how you show your hard and soft skills.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. The likelihood of you being asked about your greatest strengths and weaknesses is incredibly high. Make sure you tailor your answer to the specific job you are interviewing for. Your strengths should reveal why you are perfect for the job. Ideally, you should incorporate an example of how this strength has aided you in the workplace before. The question of weakness is one often laughed at, but the way you answer this is incredibly important. Aim to identify a workable weakness, and then list the steps you are taking to abolish this weakness. As such, it is no longer a negative, but rather a brief bump that can be smoothed over. Importantly, try not to sound rehearsed when you speak about this.
- Ask questions! Asking questions shows that you have put thought into the job and the opportunity, and have engaged. Importantly, make sure the question you ask is not a trivial one that can easily be answered, or that has already been covered in the interview. Prepare at least 4 questions, so that if the first few are answered in the course of the interview, you have at least one to rely on. Good questions to ask would be:
- Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?
- How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve?
- What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
- How do you help your team grow professionally?
We hope these 10 tips help you smash it in your next job interview!
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