How To Ace A Job Interview
One of the things that hasn’t changed over the years, in the corporate world, is the need for a Job Interview. The methods, and approaches, to getting through this grueling part of the employment process may have changed over the years but it’s still there. And the interview isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
If you’re like the millions of hopefuls all over the world dreading that first step into a corporation there a few things that you can do to even out the playing field, and increase your chances of closing on that important job interview.
Understanding The Job Interview Process
One of the first things you have to understand is that each company/hotel/organisation has its own structure. Different people make up the process of giving people positions and salaries. Job Interview processes may also be markedly different depending on the salary grade for the position. A well organised company should provide details of the interview process in their application packs but not all do. If they don’t there is nothing wrong with you contacting the HR Department, or sender of the application pack, for more information.
If you do not receive a detailed Application Pack, you may want to ask about the number of interview panels you could be required to attend. Or how many people you will meet with, as part of the process. You could ask how long they expect the decision-making process to take.
Don’t be afraid of sounding impetuous when you ask these questions. On the contrary, asking for this information shows that you have a genuine interest in the position and in impressing the panel, and want to be prepared. That is a good impression for any candidate to give.
Getting Selected for Interview
The application form, or covering letter, is your key to getting selected for job interview.
If you are only required to send in your resume, make sure it is up to date, and a crisp clean copy. Check before you send it, that any skills or experience you have for this job are clear in the resume. You can also send a covering letter, indicating previous positions that complement this new job.
If you have to complete an Application Form, make several blank copies of it first so you can practice. Then read the Job Description and Person Specifications carefully. Many companies want candidates to provide examples of how you meet the requirements for the job.
Positions that attract lots of candidates often use a scoring system for applications, giving 1-5 marks per requirement. So it is important that you show them how you meet their needs, to secure a job interview.
As an example: “The successful candidate will have experience of Windows, Excel and Publisher”
It is not enough to write “I have experience of Windows, Excel and Publisher”. You will likely only get 1 point for that answer.
Instead give some examples of how and when you have used these programs in your previous jobs. If your previous job didn’t involve using the programs, it is perfectly fine to explain how you have used them outside of employment:
“I was a member of the school newspaper from 2016-2018, writing articles using Word, and publishing the Newspaper Accounts using Excel. I also produced a number of advertisements for school events in the paper, using Publisher”
Preparing for a Job Interview
Knowing the Interview Process is one thing. The other thing that requires your attention is, of course, an understanding of the company you’re applying to work for.
There’s nothing more disappointing for an Interview Panel, than being faced with an applicant who knows nothing about the company or business. Even if you’re only looking for a better salary, or a step up in to the business world and this company is your entrance ticket, at least do some research before interview.
You can certainly expect the interview question “Why did you choose our company?” and it’s an instant fail ticket if you can not give logical reasons for your choice, rather than just plain flattery.
What does this company do better than its competitors? What is so unique about this place? Does this company share an inspiring mission and vision statement that speaks to you? Are their clients people you’ve worked with before, or want to work with? Do they have role-model employees; people you aspire to become one day?
Attending your Job Interview
Be on time! In fact be ahead of time; if your Interview is scheduled for 10am plan to arrive for 9.45AM at the very latest.
Make sure that you have “load” on your phone and a copy of the company telephone number, just in case something happens to cause you to run late. Turning up late for an interview, without phoning ahead and explaining, will not earn you any points.
There is a saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”.
We surely don’t need to tell you to have clean, tidy hair. Clean hands and nails. If the company interviewing you have a Corporate Dress Code, try to dress similarly.
Have a copy of the Job Description and your application or resume with you. You can read through these whilst waiting to be called in.
Mastering the Smile, the Handshake and your Entrance at Job Interview
You may be laughing at some of our points, but the smile and handshake can be the two most obvious things about your character as a potential employee. Interviewers and bosses will notice a few things about you from the way you shake their hands and interact with them.
A strong handshake speaks of confidence but overly strong may also suggest aggression. A weak handshake can suggest a lack of confidence and shyness, that could cost you that job. Aim for something in the middle. A firm grip and a healthy shake, will let your future boss know you’re not afraid of responsibility and that you’re ready for the challenge.
At the same time, smiling is one of the best ways to let your employer know that you’re happy and thankful for the chance to impress them. Nothing says compatibility better than letting someone know that you’re eager to work for them. On the plus side, it also adds to your attractiveness even if it isn’t your best hair day (so check your teeth for debris before you go in).
Be alert for the panel to indicate where and when you should sit, it is not always obvious. If that issue is hanging in the air, unspoken, ask clearly “may I sit?” and nod towards the chair that seems likely to be where they want you to sit.
When sitting never use the Backrest of the chair. This tip you should take very seriously.
Even if your chair looks like, and is, the most comfortable chair on earth, you don’t want to assume a lazy position by resting your back against the chair.
This doesn’t just suggest an air of laziness. It can also give an impression of overconfidence, arrogance or a low opinion of the company.
To project the best image, sit your bottom near the edge of the seat, with your back straight. In such a position, you’re alert and you can think straight. You can also hear your interviewer better as they shoot you questions. It’s also a form of non-verbal communication that lets them know that you’re interested in what you’re talking about, as well as the questions that they’re asking.
Forget Scripts but know your resume
Most people are worried about how to answer certain questions such as
“tell me something about yourself,”
“where do you see yourself in ten years?”.
Our tip is to listen to the question and pause to think before you answer it. Don’t react with nerves and feel the need to rush in straight away with an answer. If you memorize a scripted answer to questions like the above, your responses are likely to sound prepared and insincere. Interviewers don’t like these canned responses as it doesn’t show them your flexibility. It only speaks of rigidness.
On top of that, memorizing a script runs the risk of you forgetting parts of it; especially if you are nervous. You wouldn’t want to mentally-space out in the middle of a performance now, would you? You know your skills and experience. Have confidence in what you can bring to the job, or how much you can progress within the right company and mentoring.
As a tip, answering the “where do you see yourself in five/ten years?” question with “married with children” is probably one to avoid (although, against the panels better judgement as it turned out, the woman who gave this answer was still offered a position – and left the company to have a baby within 2 years).
The panel is asking you to tell them where you see yourself, within their company, in the next five years. They are not going to invest in training and mentoring you if you tell them your plan is to start your own company, or work with a rival company. This is also where your research comes in; you can tell them that you see yourself running your own Accounts Team in the next five years. Or heading up one of their Departments etc
You may want to highlight your progression in your current company, as a way to evidence your ambition or ability to progress quickly. This brings your resume back in to the interview and also shows the panel that you have come prepared for the interview. Your Resume is your personal flyer. It’s also the first thing used by companies to judge if you’re a fit for their company. Knowing it well should be one of the first things you accomplish in preparation for your interview.
From your CV, you can tell a great story about your accomplishments and experiences,which will work well to convince them that you’re the person they want for the job. And if you still need convincing: what if they ask you to talk about yourself? What if they want a brief description of your work experience? How will you talk to them about that, if you yourself don’t know your resume by heart? Consider it as being a salesman of yourself. If you don’t know the product well, how do you expect your prospect to want to buy it?
If you don’t have direct experience of the job you are interviewing for, talk about how your skills will help this company. Do their practices align with your practices? Are their approaches to marketing or sales the same as your personal mottos? What do you have that you think goes well with them? Showing them that you’re aware of those things means that you’ve done your homework; and there’s nothing more impressive than that.
If you’re familiar with the company, your resume, as well as the position you want, you’re now in the best condition to impress your prospective employer! It’s best to remember that these people will always be looking for someone that has the skills and the attitudes that they themselves boast about.
If you know who they are and what you can deliver, you can customize your answers, delivery, posture, clothing choices and even resume to ensure that they have no reason to turn you away.