The common job interview is about much more than answering questions. It will supply you with plentiful opportunities to shine and you can dramatically improve your chances at landing the appointment through the age old formulation of proper prior preparation. Let’s jump right in by getting you to play the interviewer and ask yourself some very pointed questions:
Do you know the Company?
From projects that it is currently involved in, to who it considers its key clients, every bit of information you can gather will help you tailor the answers you give in an interview. If you can work your research seamlessly into interview answers, you will also impress your interviewer with a proactive and genuine knowledge of your prospective workplace. Aim for at least three quotable facts about the company. Names of the directors, big media campaigns or important dates in the company calendar or history will do nicely.
Do you know the position?
Study the job description. Study similar job descriptions. Find the important traits or qualities that the employer is looking for and, once you have identified them, think about where you have proven yourself in these areas in previous jobs. Tailor your answers to include examples of how you exemplify the attributes wanted by your prospective employer.
Do you know yourself?
Print out a copy of your CV (be very sure it is identical to the one your interviewer has seen). Learn it by heart. You have to be able to talk about your own job history naturally and in a way that relates to the role you are interviewing for… without ever quoting incorrect information.
Do you keep an interview toolkit?
Put together copies of your resume, post codes, directions and telephone numbers for the location of your interview, a copy of the job description, the company overview, a note pad and a working pen. Keep it all in a small bag in your car or somewhere that you can pick up from at a moment’s notice before you leave the house.
Have you set your watch 30 min fast?
Never plan to arrive later than 30 min before the interview starts. That way you have time to allow for traffic, getting lost, dealing with parking problems and most of all gathering your thoughts. You don’t have to actually enter the building if you travel without incident and prefer to spend your waiting time outside. The last thing you should do before you walk through the door is read your CV one last time and summarise your strengths. Once inside, announce your arrival to ensure that the right people know you are in the right place. This will give everyone the impression that you are in the habit of leaving nothing to chance.
Were you a witness at a crime scene?
If you are late you better have a killer story. And a police report to back it up. No other excuse will do. (Don’t be late.)
Do you show rather than tell?
Telling someone you are hardworking is one thing. Using the words ‘for example’ and then following them with a detailed story is a different beast entirely. And very, very much more impressive because the human brain is wired to forget generalities and remember specifics. Don’t leave anything to the interviewer’s imagination. If you want them to know that you are reliable say ‘For example, this will be the third year I have worked without having to take a single sick day.’
Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
You need to be able to recite them without faltering. And you need three. Your weaknesses must also be available for recitation but you should consider them the areas you would like to improve; ‘I don’t have any Accounting experience, but I have always wished to learn.’
Have you read the weather report this morning?
A firm handshake, direct eye contact and a genuine smile… followed by a lovely general question about everyone’s welfare and a comment regarding the weather will probably make everyone feel at ease and happy. Which is about the general atmosphere a great interview that will play in your favour should always start in.
Can you let it go?
Be yourself. At the end of the day it is a matchmaking situation and if you aren’t a good match everyone will be miserable before too long if you pretend to be something you are not and you are chosen by virtue of this falsehood. It might be difficult to accept that you cannot be perfect for every situation… but reality will out.
Do you have any questions?
Don’t leave without asking your own questions! These are so important you should plan them before your interview. Asking them about career development at the company or formulating insightful questions about the company’s future vision or their media presence is a fabulous and very resourceful way to end an interview and leave everyone with a great impression of you. Questions you should not be asking at this point is anything concerning your hours, money or whether you can go on five stag breaks in the next six months.
Do you look the part?
Don’t dress like your Dad, your headmaster, your old boss or what you dream of dressing like in the future when you are your own boss. Dress for the industry, the company and the position that you are applying for. When in doubt err on the side of smart.
Are you sitting up?
Because it makes you come across as alert, engaged and optimistic. All absolutely a plus when someone is considering another human as a prospective employee. No slouching! should be a firm rule at all your interviews.
Can you concentrate?
No watch. No telephone. No anything, except the person asking the questions. While you are in the room busy with your interview all your attention should be on the matter at hand. Listen carefully and follow their lead. Wait to be asked to sit or drink or eat. If your interview is taking place over a meal be conservative as you order. Allow them to establish the protocol at every step of the interview. Ensure that all your answers are to the point without becoming rambling.
Do you understand the push and pull of body language?
The next time you watch your favourite sports commentator, notice how they are busy demonstrating and emphasising words with their hands but quiet with the rest of their body. This is very deliberate, and you want to learn to emulate that because it demonstrates enthusiasm and keeps the listeners attention on what the speaker is saying. If you can master the trick you will get to say more, and it will keep you from fidgeting. Ultimately you and your interviewer will also be more relaxed.
Have you written a thank you letter?
If the interview went well and you really care about the job and the company and you think it could be the best opportunity of your like, as soon as you get home send a handwritten thank you note. Yes, we said handwritten. Because people don’t do that anymore this will have the best and most personal impact. If you don’t have a mailing address (what could your excuse possibly be?) you can send an e-mail. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simply thank the interviewer for their time.
Do you think you are ready to nail your next job interview?
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