Guide to your upcoming job interview
Hunting for a new job is an excruciating process. Visiting countless websites, scrolling through numerous job listings and applying for multiple jobs is challenging. Finally, you hear back from a company. They are interested in your skill set and think you may be a good fit. You have been invited for an interview, and you feel like the job is almost yours. The final step, the job interview is the most crucial part of the recruitment process. And for many candidates, it is a make-or-break situation. Do well and you have the job in your pocket. Fail to do so, and you will need to continue on your job hunt. But fret not… With this guide, you will have all the tips and tricks to make the best possible impression and ace your upcoming interview.
- In-Depth Understanding of the Job Description: While it is great that the recruiters have shortlisted you for an interview, the real battle lies ahead. At this stage, it is important to go back to the job listing and understand what the company is actually looking for. The skills, roles and responsibilities, and sometimes the temperament expected of you is all there. Take note of all these key points, for when you will be sitting in front of the interviewer(s). These are the boxes they are wanting to tick. Having an understanding of what the company is looking for, and what you can offer, will enable you to present yourself in a better light.
Also Read: How to Read and Respond to Job Descriptions
- Evaluate your suitability: The only difference between succeeding at an interview, and failing one comes down to just one thing: the gap between the company’s expectations and your ability to deliver. The greater the gap in the company’s expectations and your apparent potential, the lesser are your chances of being selected. Companies are usually on the lookout for candidates that can be assets and bring their skills to the table to achieve their objectives. It is true that no candidate can be a 100% fit. And that is totally fine. There are a great many things that you can learn on the job. Understand what the job demands and what you can offer. Gather everything that you can present, against everything that is expected, and that can give you a clear picture of how suitable you are for the role. Regardless, skills are just one piece of the puzzle. Another key factor in determining suitability is assessing whether you are aligned with the company’s core values. Many candidates have been hired despite lacking skills because their personal values were identical to those of the company. After evaluating these factors, it is vital to recall experiences (professional and academic) that are similar to the situations you are expected to encounter on this job and noting how you tackled them. A good example can be a prior retail experience where you may have had to deal with challenging customers. These experiences can help you prove to recruiters that you have the capabilities to handle similar situations should they arise on this job.
- Do your Research: Before stepping into the room, you should know everything possible about the company you aspire to work for. You should be well-versed with the company’s values, missions and vision. Other facts like their founders, management, notable employees, past work should be on your research sheet. Apart from that, you should also be well-informed about the work done by the company in your area of expertise/interest. Additionally, it is always a good idea to learn about their competitors too, which can come in handy, when dealing with a hypothetical situation in the interview.
- Develop Answers to Commonly Asked Questions: While every company has their own set of specific questions, subject to the interviewer’s discretion, there are a lot of questions that are standard across all jobs, companies and industries. Now that you have done your homework and have all the information you need, it is time you put that knowledge into concise answers that can help you tackle these questions. Some of the most commonly asked questions are:
- Tell us about yourself
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- What makes you a better candidate? / Why should we hire you?
- What are your expectations from this job?
- Do you have any questions you would like to ask us?
These questions are simple. Additionally, you may also be asked questions related to your particular field and to apply your knowledge to solve hypothetical problems. Hence, anticipating questions and preparing answers before the interview helps with your confidence. You are less likely to feel caught off-guard and will be ready to answer.
- Groom yourself, practice your speaking voice and your body language: Other than having the knowledge and preparing answers, presentation is a key component of a job interview. A lot of people with sufficient knowledge have lost out on jobs due to weak presentation. An interview is the first time that the company gets to see you. You will be evaluated on the basis of your knowledge but also on how you communicate, verbally and non-verbally. Your appearance and how you present yourself are vital to selling your skills and your brand (YOURSELF). As a result, it is important that you walk into an interview looking sharp and well-groomed which will convey that you take yourself seriously. While sitting in front of the interviewer, it is important that you look confident. Therefore, no shaking legs, no fidgeting and absolutely no cracking your knuckles. Many candidates are also in the habit of exhibiting body language that can be perceived as too casual (leaning back in your chair, spreading your legs out etc.) or too aggressive (folded arms, closed fists, leaning forward in your chair) in a professional set up. Sit upright and comfortably, with open palms facing down resting on your lap, mirroring the interviewer’s body language to show that you are actively listening. In addition to this, it is important that you practice your speaking voice in front of the mirror or in front of a friend before the interview. This will help you gain the confidence to talk about the same topics with the interviewer. It often happens that when facing a stranger (interviewer) in such important settings, we tend to be too loud (to counter the nervousness), too meek (submitting to the pressure), or stutter (when we try to speak without thinking) or the worst, we choke (when the pressure becomes too overwhelming). Listen to the interviewer attentively, take your time to articulate your answer and then talk calmly. Remember, an interview is just another conversation, like countless others that you have every day.
Also Read: How to Rehearse for an Interview
- Prepare thoughtful questions: Interviews usually conclude with “Do you have any questions?”. Most people usually say they have no questions, unaware of the fact that this is where you have the chance to leave a lasting impression on your potential employers. Having said that, it is not advised to ask a question for the sake of asking them. Prepare yourself well enough to have genuine questions such as:
- What other expectations does the company have from the employees?
- Do the expectations change over time?
- What does a day in the office look like?
- What are the upcoming steps in the interview process?
- When can you expect a response?
These questions show your genuine interest in the company and the role being offered, and exhibits how you, as a potential employee, are trying to gauge the company’s values and expectations. However, there is a thin line between being genuinely confident and being downright haughty. Questions like “when do I start?” are an absolute no-no and can ruin an interview.
Parting Note: While interviews are stressful, it is alright if things don’t work out. It is important to be honest, humble, polite, genuinely interested and to keep your spirits up. If an interview does not go as expected, it does not mean that you were not good enough. It may be that the company may have been looking for something else. Having said that, it is important to go back to the drawing board and re-assess your performance and keep practicing. Stay confident and don’t lose heart.
Abstract Transformations is a Melbourne-based company helping graduates and professionals with Employment and Migration Solutions since the last 25 years. Get in touch with our team today at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at +61-416-943-396. Our team of experts and Career Advocates help direct your career on the right track with solutions that are specifically curated to your needs.