You got your job application right, and you now have an interview scheduled… but it isn’t time to celebrate just yet. There could be several others shortlisted for the job, and you still have to convince them that you’re the right person.
Not everyone is naturally good at interviews. It’s a nerve-racking, difficult task that can be really stressful and high pressure.
But let me share a secret with you: the recruiter might also feel the same way. Even after a decade of working in HR, I would have to spend time mentally preparing myself for an interview. I was aware that I was representing the company, had to know the details of the job inside out, and – most importantly – make the right decision in filling the position. I never let it show, mind you; an interview is a battle to hide the nerves.
So, how do you win that battle? Here are some simple tips to blitz the interview for that job you’ve always wanted:
- Research the company. You want to go into an interview knowing as much about the organisation as possible. They might even ask you what you know about them or why you want to work there (and if they don’t, just drop it into conversation) – this is your chance to show them you care about it enough to know lots about them.
- Know as much about the job as possible. Make sure you know the details of the advertisement and you can address all the criteria and prove you have what it takes.
- Ask someone you trust to ask you some practice questions – this is the best way to prepare yourself for the interview process.
- Present yourself well. First impressions are very, very important, so make sure you look the part. Dress professionally, whether you’re applying for an entry-level role or a management position.
- Have some questions prepared, and write them down if you think you’re likely to forget them.
At the interview
- Again, it’s all about first impressions. Shake hands firmly and make eye contact, but even before that: be friendly to everyone there. I used to note how an applicant treated the receptionist as they came and left the building; this says a lot about a person.
- Know that interviewers are realistic; they know you’ll be nervous so they may give you some allowance for that. Don’t expect them to be hard on you if you stumble a little.
- Most importantly – be honest. While there is a need to prepare yourself and some great answers, there is never a need to lie. After all, if you say you can do something and you do get the job, your lie will be exposed; it isn’t worth the risk. Be honest and be proud when you get the job on your own merits.
- When asked about how you fit a specific aspect of the role, be specific. For example, if you’re asked about your organisational skills, talk about a time you showed this skill: ‘At my previous role, I arranged all the files alphabetically, which saved everyone time and made things much simpler; that’s just one example of how I like to use my organisational skills to improve business practices’.
- Ask questions. Always ask questions. If you’ve prepared notes on the questions you would like to ask, take them out and ask them. This doesn’t make you look silly or lacking in knowledge; it makes you look prepared and interested. If your questions have been answered during the interview, make sure you let the interviewer know that: ‘I was really interested to know more about what this part of the job involved, but you’ve already answered that, thank you’.
- Don’t talk about money unless the interviewer asks you to.
- Before you leave, make sure you ask when they interviewer is likely to be in contact again. Ask the question: ‘where to from here?’
After the interview
- Follow up. If you haven’t heard from them by the time they said they’d be in touch, call.
- If you aren’t successful in gaining the position, call and try to speak to the interviewer about it. Many won’t give you specific reasons why you didn’t get the job, but some might, and it’s worth a try to find out what areas you can do better in next time.
- Being called in for a second interview means they were impressed with you the first time, but have a few more questions of you. It usually involves meeting with someone further up the hierarchy.
- Ask who you will be meeting with, and their role in the organisation, so you’re prepared.
- Once again, prepare questions and think about what they might ask you.
- A second interview is an acceptable time to raise the topic of money, if it hasn’t already been covered.