Tips for Interview success – don't clown around, be prepared
This interview day has come. You might be sweating it. However, if you’ve done your homework, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. The old adage stands true. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. For interview success you must be prepared.
Here’s a quick guide on some of the things you should cover before you sit across the table from potential employers.
- Understand the organisation
Researching the organisation that you are interviewing for is an obvious first step before an interview process. Easy ways to do this include visiting the company’s website and social media outlets. On the website, don’t just check out the “about us” section. Delve a little deeper. Find out about their projects. Look at some of their client business. Learn about them.
After picking up some knowledge from their own assets, see what others are saying about them. Google them. Read articles related to them. Once again, learn about them. Throughout these searches, you may find that you really like what they stand for. You may also find that there are some aspects that are not to your liking.
Based on your research of the company, now might be a good time to prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask them.
- Check your qualifications
If you applied for the role on account of an advert for the position, now’s the time to examine what it was they were originally looking for. Compare the qualifications on the advert against your own. Highlight your strong points against these qualifications. Also, be aware as to where you may be weaker.
- Prepare responses
When we say “prepare responses”, we don’t mean learn your answers by heart. We mean that you should have an idea in your head as to what you would say regarding the role, your qualifications, their organisation, why you want the job, your experience, etc. Also, it is worth while preparing examples which cover your competencies. One of the major competencies that most employers look for is where you have shown to be a team player. In this instance, you should have an exact example about when you were a great team player. This example should show a scenario, how you were a team player, and the results of your actions as a team player.
- What to wear
This is one that may seem obvious, but to be honest, it can be tricky. Some organisations prefer formal wear – you can tell this because everybody is wearing a suit. Other places are far more laid back.
If you’ve secured this interview through a recruiter or a hiring manager – you are within your rights to ask regarding dress code for the organisation. If they say “well… generally, we all wear suits”, or “yep… smart casual”, then you know. It can feel embarrassing to ask, but some recruiters/HR managers, may even perceive it as a sign of respect. There is nothing wrong with doing everything you can to put your best foot forward.
- On the day
The day has arrived, and you might be quaking in your boots. Whatever your level of anxiety, don’t forget to take essential items. For example, an extra copy or two of your resume would be wise. Also, a pen and paper is a good idea – you may not use them, but in case you do need it, you don’t want to be asking them for one.
Have list of referees and their contact details at the ready.
- Take notice
Before you answer any questions, listen carefully to what they are asking. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.
Body language says a lot in the interview. When you are talking, look at the participants in the room. Don’t eyeball anyone but the right amount of eye contact will show you to be a good communicator. Likewise, keep an eye on their body language. If they are nodding as you are speaking to them, it is generally a good sign that they are listening to you with a degree of interest.
- Be prepared for the stereotypical questions
Some interviewers still ask that dreaded question, “what are your weaknesses?” No matter how dated this question may seem, it would be wise to prepare an answer. Obviously, don’t tell them anything that would make them not want to hire you. Addressing a past issue that you are trying to resolve is generally a good response. For example, “I used to respond to problems quite rashly. However, I have started to take a more considered approach to issues, to ensure I will attain the best possible outcome to a problem”.
- Ask questions
At the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Have some prepared – but don’t ask something just for the sake of saying something. You’re applying for a job here and generally that means that you are prepared to spend a large amount of your time with this company. You must have some genuine questions for the role or the organisation.
Remember, this is a two-way interview. Yes, they may be interviewing you, but you need to make sure that they are the right fit for you too. Ask them about the business. Is it a good place to work? What does success for your role look like? Is there a career ladder in place? What are the next steps in the hiring process.