Before you enter a job interview you need to realise how much preparation is required. Although you may have the ability to walk in and ace it on the first try, this doesn’t mean to say you still couldn’t do better.
For those of you that have very little experience with job interviews, you will certainly benefit greatly from our tips. And with that, here are our 8 ultimate job interview tips.
1. Research the role and company
“An interviewer may ask how you perceive his company’s position in its industry, who the firm’s competitors are, what its competitive advantages are, and how it should best go forward.” – Experis Jobs
Before you step foot in the building you need to know what they do. Better still, you need to know more about the role you’re hoping to be hired for.
Let’s get one thing clear right from the start – if you don’t know what the company does then why are you even turning up? Clearly you have no real interest in what they are offering, and it will show in the interview. Furthermore, when asked the ‘do you know what we do?’ question, you are going to feel very embarrassed. If you’re not instantly rejected on the spot you certainly will have the shortest interview in history.
To help prevent this problem you need to research the company before the job interview. In fact, we would recommend doing this before you even write your CV. However, ensuring you have as much knowledge about the company as possible before the interview will certainly help you answer some of the tough questions.
Read the company’s website and search through their social media pages. Make sure you know the following:
- What the company sells
- More about the product or service
- How successful the company is
- How large the company is
- Who their customers are
- More about the role – contact an employee
2. Anticipate any concerns
Look at your career from the perspective of the employer and try to find flaws. Do you lack any of the requested skills or qualifications? Does your career history struggle to show relevant work experience? Do you have any employment gaps?
The interviewer will most likely ask you difficult questions relating to any concerns they have. Your CV may not be the perfect fit, and it’s your job to prove to them you have what it takes. So prepare some answers in advance that will put those concerns to rest. Don’t dodge the questions like a politician and instead hit them head on. However, be careful not to self deprecate and divert their attention to what you can do rather than what you can’t.
3. Know why you’re the best candidate
After addressing and preparing answers for any concerns you then need to move onto all the positive aspects of your skillset. You may get asked why you think you’re the best candidate, so you need to be ready to give examples. But do you know why you’re the best prospect and why you deserve to be hired? Make sure you know this before you enter.
Focus your answer onto what matters to the company. Don’t be generic and simply state how great you are, and instead look to give them exactly what they want. For example, if you’re applying for a sales position then you should present your previous sales record. This is evidence that you have a proven track record in the world of sales and can continue that success with their company.
4. Prepare answers to common questions
“Being prepared for common questions will put you in a great position to keep the conversation going, and to impress the interviewers.” – Martin Carline, CV Template Master
There are certain questions which are almost guaranteed to be asked. Here are a few examples of the most obvious:
- Tell me more about yourself
- What experience do you have in this industry?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why did you apply?
- Why do you think you’re the right person for the job?
- What are your 3 weaknesses?
If you know what will be asked it is much easier to prepare your answers. It doesn’t even matter if only a few of these are asked, as you will still be able to improvise and tweak your answers to suit other questions.
5. Prepare your own questions
The employer will welcome any questions you have, and it will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job. Not only that, but it will help you to decide if this is the right position for you.
A job interview isn’t just a one way street, and you are allowed to ask questions that will ultimately help you decide if you’re making the right decision. But be careful not to ask questions which relate to selfish matters – like salary, benefits, holiday entitlement, etc.
Focus your questions on the role and the company. The employer needs to know that you are genuinely interested in working for them, which will go a long way to convincing them they should hire you. Not many of the other candidates will ask their own questions, which already puts you one step ahead of the competition.
Take a notepad and pen with you so you can jot down your questions and answers, and anything else important. This will look professional and allow you to visit your notes after the interview.
6. Rehearse the interview
With your list of common questions you can now stage a mock job interview. Ask a friend to participate so they can ask you the tough questions. This is the closest you can get to a real live interview, so you both need to take it seriously.
The only time you ever get to practice for a job interview is typically during the real thing – and this is not enough. You need to run through your answers as often as possible, but avoid them sounding robotic and scripted.
To help create answers that flow you should make a few bullet points as to how you will answer them. Write a list of subjects you want to discuss so you can put them into your own words during the practice and in the actual interview.
Ask for feedback from your friend and then go again. The feedback can be on anything from the answers you give, how you give them, your body language, your attitude, and so on. Try to practice as often as possible so you can build up your confidence ready for the real thing.
7. Be positive
When nervous it is easy to stiffen up and become shy and reserved. This will just not do for a job interview when you want to impress. Through your practice you should consider how positive you come across. Do you smile often and make eye contact? Do you have a firm handshake? Is your body language open and friendly? Are you attempting to build up a rapport?
Try to project positivity from the second you walk in the interview room. The first 30 seconds is the most crucial as you are being judged on your appearance and your body language, so your positivity needs to shine through and break any tension.
You want the interviewer(s) to warm to you from the second you set foot in the room, and make them smile upon greeting you. If you walk in the room without a smile you are already projecting your nerves – or maybe you are just not a very happy person!
Practice your greeting and handshake and ask for feedback. Make a fantastic first impression and you are one step closer to a job offer.
8. Thank them
The most important thing to do at the end of the interview is to thank them for their time and the opportunity. You can of course ask any questions before the interview ends, and you will often be prompted to do so. But after that, thank them and make it clear how grateful you are for the chance to speak with them.
Don’t overdo it however, as you don’t want to come across as desperate. Be polite and friendly, and then make your exit. The whole interview has three stages to it that you need to ace – the first being the all important first impression. The middle section is all about answering the difficult questions whilst building up a rapport. Keep things friendly and don’t hesitate to make the odd joke if appropriate. The final stage is to thank them for their time and leave them wanting to know more about you.
You might also follow up the interview with a quick thank you note.
“A thank you letter could be the difference between you getting the upper hand on your fellow candidates, or not standing out at all.” – Dusty Baxter-Wright, Cosmopolitan