Whether you are a recent graduate, changing jobs or just been looking for one, job hunting can be tedious. In your case you are now a step ahead-you have just landed the coveted interview. Its everyone’s wish to get an interview for a dream job considering how competitive the job market is. To even get shortlisted is not an easy feat. However, attending an interview can also be daunting yet an important step in landing you a dream career. Employers are keen on job interviews because they give them an overall synoptic overview of who you are, your skills and what you bring to the team. Whilst you can do with the job, always bear in mind that the company too is bound to benefit from your knowledge and experience.
Having attended interviews in the past, l am aware of how stressful the process is. With preparation the nerves and worries do go way but that’s easier said than done. Despite how stressful and at best tough interviews can be, the following tips are key to your success.
What is remarkable is how your responses, tone and especially enthusiasm can determine whether you get the job or not. Besides giving intelligent and well thought out answers, it’s not just about what you say but how you present it.
Mind you chances are on the day, the interviewers will be speaking to a few other candidates of the same intellect as you. So how do you distinguish yourself and leave something you can be remembered of? The only way you can leave an impression is by answering questions enthusiastically. When you display such level of interest and passion and even pride for past experiences you are more likely to ace interviews.
When you leave the interview, what will be remembered most about you is not your precise responses, but the overall feeling the interviewer took away from your conversation. Presenting each of your answers with enthusiasm will leave a positive impression about you. So why not show enthusiasm for the job you’re interested in, as well as passion and pride for your past experiences.
Preparedness is a must
It is futile for anyone to walk into an interview without adequate preparation. How can you answer any questions related to the business operations without any clue of what they do? Most companies expect candidates to know stuff about them before hand, questions like “what do you know about our company, what brands are were best known for” are common questions that test your preparedness. From the onset even if you slay the rest of the interview, muttering or saying I don’t know just seals your fate with the company-the simple message you are sending to them is—you are just about the job or the salary you will get but not interested in their business –end off. Why don’t you utilise the time between the invitation for the interview and the actual date to dig as much information as you can. Of the things you need to research on don’t forget to find out, what the company does, the industry developments, and how your position fits in. With the way the world is connected, your first port could be the internet. You can visit the company/organisation’s website and get as much information as you can. Beside the internet you can also browse the latest press releases, and the company’s annual report. If they are in the news find what is already known about them—its part of you doing your homework and demonstrating your interest. By demonstrating your understanding of the company’s services, products, interviewers can acknowledge your interest in working with them. This will set you apart from other candidates. Preparedness makes you spell out what it is you are bringing to the company, what is your value, why you and why not the next person.
There is always a thing about interviews and nerves. If you let nerves get the better off you they can interfere with your listening and conversation. At the onset of the interview try to let your nerves melt away completely and think of it as just a normal conversation.
Interview takes the form of a dynamic process-you are either answering questions or listening actively. You can only answer the questions(s) more accurately or as expected if you pay more attention. You don’t always have to answer back questions immediately, but always show that you are engaged, taking time to think through and formulate the best possible response. Never display any likelihood that you weren’t listening because interviewers deem that as a show of lack of interest.
Know your weaknesses, answer honestly
We have talked about your strength and skills you bring to the team but what is your weakness? This is one question you are sure to be asked- interviewers love this question. As a person you are likely to be competent and display higher degrees of excellence in some areas but not all. Just like the panel you are not perfect-they too know it. There is always something that is lacking in you and in anyone of us. What will distinguish you from other candidates is how you acknowledge your weakness, how you are willing to benefit from other team members and continuously improve.
So when you present your weakness you don’t just say “I am not an organised person, I am always late, I can’t focus for long” and end there—that is just how your chances to land a job vanishes as well. So first part is being honest but now be clever to present a solution that instils confidence in the panel on how you can overcome challenges.
You can still shine by knowing your weakness and providing a detailed plan of how you intend to redress the issues. You will need to demonstrate your strategic thinking in dealing with something that can hold you from perfoming at your best level. A clear plan and interventions can sell you as a crucial member for the business. Businesses are just looking for people who have the ‘I can do attitude’
Honesty is key
When asked even about your past experiences and how you handled previous work situations be honest and truthful. Questions such as “how can you handle difficult clients, why you have gaps in your CV, why you lost a previous job(s) demand your honesty response- no one would want to entrust a person who is less honest with their business. When you decide to be less economical with your truths, you are taking a risk that can jeopardise your career and life. Take a minute to think through before you mislead the panel. If something unfortunate happened in the past, you can always present it as a challenge and turn into an opportunity.
Research and know who is on the panel
Usually when you receive a request for interview, you get the names of people in the panel lists. Depending on the company or organisations, panels can be comprised of people from different departments including the HR.
Why does it matter how the panel is constituted. Before the day, you can look up the panel and at least be prepared for likely questions. The Head of HR will for eg ask you more general questions so you would be prepared to talk more about your work experience, personality, team work and communication skills, whereas the Head of Marketing will ask you technical questions related to your ability to penetrate markets locally and globally so you would be more prepared to answer a bit more on competencies in this area.
Dress the part.
When it comes to landing a dream job, image is everything. Whether you are interviewing for a company with informal dress code or you just fancy informal wear, this is not the time. The choice for a t-shirt and jeans that make you feel relaxed and at ease will not carry the day for you. If you are likely to work with clients then your dress code should meet the gold standard suit tie/skirt and blazer. Looking professional is everything so you have to do something that brings out your personality.
Don’t hesitate to look the part, if you can afford it even accessorise with your favourite watch or silk scarf. Depending on the job and not being judgemental but helpful, you might need to conceal things like unusual piercings or body art.
Despite however you are dressed, a No No is bringing attitude with you. Yes the company might be lucky to have you given your experience, intellect and skills but that is no reason to be a arrogant. Don’t throw opportunities away.
You are most likely to do your best when you are a relaxed and calm. Always remember you have been invited because you have right education, skills, experience and knowledge working in your favour. When you let nerves get the better off you, your body language and answers can give you away. Mind you, when you are most prepared and feel you have done all your research, you are most likely to exude confidence. You are not being interviewed under duress so you can also ask for a moment to relax, have a glass of water if you can and then breath out before taking further questions-even a small joke around—“I just want to ease my nerves” will help. Interviewers understand how never wrecking it can be to sit in front of a panel. When you get a chance to take a deep breath you can also use it to recall your accomplishments, and let go of the tension. You are worthy and probably over qualified for the position, so don’t let nerves steal your shine. When ready always maintain an eye contact with interviewers and minimise body gestures to a reasonable level.
Always ask a question
Towards the end of an interview, the panel opens up for you to ask any questions. It is time for you to take charge. What the interviewers expect when they give you the chance to ask, is for you to ask intelligent, focused and questions related to the business and your position. Saying I don’t have any questions can be taken as lack of interest. Interviewers wants to be challenged and asked well thought out questions that shows you are the right person to bring change to the establishment. However, what ever questions you might have avoid talking about remuneration unless opened for discussion or negotiation. Why not plan ahead or listen attentively through the interview so you can formulate meaningful questions.
There is no doubt that this is your golden chance and you are already feeling confident of your abilities. By landing a job interview its evidence enough that a prospective employer finds your skills, experience and knowledge to be a perfect match. Utilise these tips and see yourself in the interview –Having come this far, you are now just a few moments away from landing the job you always wanted to have. I am confident you will get it too—may you have the most rewarding and fulfilling career.
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” –Theodore Roosevelt
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