Searching for a new job can be a long and arduous process. It can take hours of trawling through employment websites and speaking to recruiters, some who over-promise and under deliver, before you find that perfect role. An unfortunate necessity, most people go through this at some point or another in their life but it hopefully leads them to that pivotal first interview.
When you get contacted for a meeting, it’s time to start preparing yourself as soon as possible. The interview is your chance to show the company, and hiring manager, that you’re the best person for their role. Even if you have an incredible resume and cover letter, you can still fail if you commit common and critical mistakes. To help yourself better prepare, we have provided 10 tips below for a successful job interview.
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail – isn’t that the cheesy old saying your parents told you before a school exam? Well, it’s true and you’d probably be surprised by how many people out there don’t prepare at all for their interviews.
Make sure you have thoroughly researched the company, understood what the role is, prepared answers to common questions and have an idea of how to stand out from the other candidates. Practice a mock interview with a roommate, partner, parent, sibling or friend so you feel more confident, comfortable and articulate on an actual day.
It’s important to research the company as thoroughly as possible before your interview. Not only for your benefit of understanding the place you may work but also so you can show the hiring manager that you’re proactive and perceptive. Read through their website, follow their social media pages, go through their newsletters and reports, identify the company values, and make sure you know the names of the executive team.
It’s also worthwhile understanding where the company sits in the industry. Are they a leader or a newcomer? Do they have many competitors or have they created a new field? Having a general understanding of the industry might help you shape your answers and give you a competitive edge.
The job description usually provides the job title and department, day to day tasks, skills required and who you’ll be reporting to. You should review this well and prepare examples to show your competencies match the skills required for the role. If you can show the interviewer how you’d fit within the team, you’ll have a better chance of persuading them that you’re the right person for the job.
Punctuality is extremely important as it gives the interviewer an insight into how serious you are about the job and your attitude in general. Ensure you leave more than enough time to get to your interview as no matter the excuse, being late is almost always an automatic write off.
Check for any traffic and delays the morning of, and leave enough time to arrive at least 10 minutes early. This also gives you time to prepare mentally and take some deep breaths before you start.
A study published by the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology found that nearly 30% of interviewers made their decision about a candidate in the first 5 minutes and 52% made their decision in 5 – 15 minutes. Show high levels of interest and remain focused on what the interviewer is asking. It’s important to maintain eye contact and demonstrate that you’re keen on the role.
Make sure you verify what kind of dress code the company has before your meeting so that you’re dressed appropriately. You don’t want to turn up to a corporate role wearing jeans and sneakers but equally, you wouldn’t want to wear a suit to a more casual start up.
First impressions are obviously key to whether an interviewer thinks you’re worth the time so make sure you dress suitably, be enthusiastic, knowledgeable and personable.
Shameless self-promotion is a good thing in an interview, but remember there is a fine line between self-confidence and arrogance. Emphasise your good qualities and be able to articulate your strengths, weaknesses, and achievements to the hiring manager.
Ensure you have a few key selling points in mind, such as “I’m a great communicator”, and show them an instance where that skill has been put into action in a previous role.
It’s easy to make common mistakes in an interview, we’ve all done it. Even if you’re highly qualified with an excellent resume, making these errors can ruin your chances of success. Negative body language, being late to the interview, bad-mouthing previous employers, lying about your experience, being inappropriately dressed and oversharing on your personal life, are just some of the blunders people make. Avoid these at all costs.
Your interviewer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions. Show them you’re interested in the role and demonstrate your knowledge of the company by asking intelligent, well thought out questions. This is also a chance for you to learn more about the business, your potential future team and what the role will entail. Have a few questions pre-prepared and listen for anything the interviewer says that you’d like to expand on at the end. This will show them that you absorbed what they told you during the interview and that you have a genuine interest in being hired for the job.
Send the interviewer a thank you note after your meeting to show you appreciated their time. You can add that you look forward to hearing from them soon, this will help to keep your front and centre in their mind when they decide on second-round interviews. Take into account the mode of communication that you’ve been using with them to follow up and make sure you send it straight after your meeting.
You can’t improve if you don’t know what you did wrong. Self-reflection is important after an interview, being able to think back and take note of any errors you committed, but asking the hiring manager for their feedback is just as helpful. If you find out the reason why you didn’t get the role from their perspective, you can use that knowledge to better yourself when you next apply for a job.
Not every interview is going to go your way and sometimes the reason why you’re not hired is out of your control, such as someone has more years of experience than you. However, practice makes perfect so take on board these tips to help you succeed in your next job interviews.
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