Job interviews are a lot like first dates. Good impressions count, awkwardness can occur and the outcomes are commonly unpredictable.
In every organization, the rules of an interview are nine times out of ten identical. These are the ones that have been ingrained in us from an early age, such as:
- Dress appropriately
- Exude confidence
- Be polite
While these do offer assistance, they are about as clear as mud. Unbeknownst to most, the aspects of an interview that one should really know are much more intricate.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
Worry not, we are here to help.
Google Maps is your friend
Make sure you know exactly where you’re going.
If the route errs on the complicated side, study a map. If the area is prone to traffic, leave considerably earlier than you would under normal circumstances.
If we had to choose one element we had to choose that an interviewer dislikes the most, that is a candidate that is late for the interview. Being ten to fifteen minutes early is generally a winner.
Plug In The Iron
Your personal presentation is one of the key factors for your possible success in an interview.
Do some research on the difference between formal and smart casual. There is no need to come to an interview dressed as though you are attending a black tie event.
A black suit is a touch formal – a navy blue suit (if you own one) is the prime professional attire. If all else fails, neat slacks and a button down shirt can replace these.
Remember two things:
- A little grooming goes a long way.
- It’s true when they say less is more.
First Impressions Do Count – So Does Confidence
Going hand-in-hand with your personal presentation, the way you carry yourself and react to others around you is highly influential. Interviewers are trained to notice when someone is not thoroughly comfortable with their surroundings or in their own skin.
Eye contact is essential, we would however recommend doing your research on this before the time as in certain cultures it can be seen as disrespectful.
Brush up on your interview etiquette, and your people skills.
Don’t pay too much mind if you’re feeling the exact opposite of confident on the day of your interview – we all have our days, and nerves can affect us more than we realize. Listen to some motivational music, watch a motivational talk on YouTube (see our previous blogpost for TED Talks to Watch Before an Interview), and be yourself!
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Receptionist
Rest assured that if you aren’t very pleasant to the one that sees all and hears all within the company, the chances are very high that the one interviewing you will hear about it, which then greatly diminishes your chances of getting the job. Even more so if the receptionist and the interview has a strong working relationship – they may even be personally related.
Greet them with a smile, be friendly, be courteous, and say please and thank you. There is no need to carry an extensive conversation with them, but you will never regret being a nice person.
Two Languages Are Important – Your Own and Body Language
You would be surprised as to how much more your body language says than what your words say. Read up on body language prior to the interview, and find out what is a do and what is a don’t.
To start with, do not sit with your arms crossed in front of your chest. This gives off a perception of “closing off”. As soon as you arrive at the interview, posture means a lot. Be aware of the position your body is in, and make sure it doesn’t look as though you’re about to make a break for it.
All personal movements should be open and expressive. Relax your shoulders and keep them facing the interviewer.
Fidgeting is a big no-no. Psychologically, this portrays dishonesty.
Research is Prying With A Purpose
An interviewer would want to see that you have invested time in learning more about what the company does, and that you’re not just there to earn a monthly pay check.
Ask them questions about the company, but remember to steer clear from questions that can be answered via the website.
Questions are More Important Than You Think
Forming a part of point 6, this is a highly important aspect of an interview. Many candidates don’t have any questions prepared for the interviewer, and it can tend to show disinterest in the role or the organization.
Examples of questions that you can ask can be:
- How would my performance be assessed?
- What can you tell me about the culture of the organization?
- In your opinion, what would the most important criteria for this position be?
Do some research before the interview to formulate your own list of questions, and try to steer clear from those that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
Arm Yourself to Look Prepared (Even If You Feel the Opposite)
The old saying “fake it until you make it” can be helpful in more than one scenario. Interviewers prefer to see someone that is thoroughly prepared for the interview, and who doesn’t show up empty handed.
Take a copy of your CV with, along with a notebook and a pen to make notes if necessary. Notes that you can make are the answers to the questions that you have, as well as you can write your questions in the notebook before the time on the off-chance that it slips your mind.
Prepare for Questions on Your Behaviour
Many interviewers are trained to ask behavioural questions. Do your research on these before the time, numerous websites compile lists of possible behavioural questions.
Some of these can be:
- Give me an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it
- Give me an example of goal you didn’t meet and how you handled it
- Describe a stressful situation at work and how you handled it
- Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure
What Not To Do
- Don’t schedule errands and highly important tasks before the interview. Clear your schedule and take the time to prepare effectively for the interview.
- Don’t arrive to the interview too early. 10-15 minutes is the best bet.
- Avoid anything that can smell bad, any foods or drink – chewing some sugarless gum can ensure that your breath will be fresh and clean.
- Don’t go overboard on the personal fragrances. A strong perfume couples with hairspray and a scented hand lotion can be very overwhelming.
- Don’t stay up late the night before the interview. Use the time before you go to sleep to prepare for the interview, and ensure that you get a restful night’s sleep to be fresh and alert for the interview.