Job interviews are one of those things that we all have to do at one point or another, but most of us don’t exactly enjoy the experience. If you are one of the many people who find themselves spending the runup to an interview in a state of perpetual anxiety and fear, this article is for you.
Once you know how to properly prepare yourself, interviews aren’t scary at all. It takes time to fully develop your interview technique, but if you stick to the following eight rules for every interview you have, you will master the entire process before you even know it.
There are few things that will create as poor a first impression as turning up to your initial interview late. Punctuality is one of those character traits that all businesses will look for in applicants. If they don’t think that you are able to manage your time properly, they are unlikely to want to give you much responsibility in their business. If the only data point they have regarding your punctuality is your late arrival for your interview, it doesn’t bode well for the future.
Turning up on time for your interview should be easy. If you haven’t been to the place where your interview is to be conducted before then it is always worth scouting the place out and visiting it a few days before your actual interview.
This won’t just give you the chance to make sure you know where you’re going, it will also alert you to any road maintenance or building work, or other unexpected obstacles that might slow you down on the day.
According to experts in the hiring process, as reported by the Huffington Post, the optimal time to arrive for your interview is 15 minutes early. As long as you turn up on time, you aren’t going to be penalised. But, if you want to make the best first impression possible, turn up 15 minutes early looking your very best.
A common mistake when interviewing for a job is to try to be the person that you think the interviewer wants you to be instead of just being yourself. This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons.
First of all, it really shows. An interviewer, especially one who has been around the block a few times, will be able to spot a phony personality from a mile away.
Not only will an interviewer be unimpressed by such an act, but it will also make the interview useless for them. After all, if they only meet you when you’re trying to be the person that you think they want you to be, they aren’t going to get any useful information about who you are.
If you are interviewing for a dream job, something you have aspired to for many years, it is only natural to feel somewhat apprehensive about the whole thing. If you put yourself out there and bear yourself to the interviewer (not literally, that probably won’t help) and then you don’t get the job, it can feel like a rejection of you as a person.
It’s important to proverbially sit down with yourself before the interview and go over your anxieties.
If you are someone who finds rejection difficult, make sure that you take the time beforehand to reassure yourself. As Forbes notes, there are a number of reasons why a perfectly suitable candidate might be rejected for a position.
Even if you are rejected because your personality doesn’t gel with the existing team, don’t take it personally. After all, you don’t really want to go to work every day with a bunch of people that you
just can’t get on with.
Another thing that an experienced interviewer will instantly be able to spot is an applicant who has put the work in to prepare for their interview. Prepared candidates walk into the interview already possessing as much knowledge as they can about the business they are applying to.
Research the business as extensively as you can, identify who the key people within the organization are, and demonstrate to the interviewer that you have done the legwork. You don’t have to try and work this subtly into your conversations. It’s perfectly acceptable to simply tell your interviewer straight up that you have been researching the business and that you have a couple of questions about what you’ve discovered.
There is a growing number of websites that provide information about what it is like applying to, interviewing for, and working with different employers. You might be able to get some helpful heads-ups about what to expect when you get there.
If you use social media, look for groups that are likely to contain people who currently work for the business you are applying for. If you can connect with someone who has already been through the interview process, you can ask them specific questions about what to expect.
As well as preparing psychologically, you also need to prepare your appearance. As a general rule, you want to turn up looking as smart as you possibly can. Of course, if you’re applying to one of those new-fangled tech startups where the workers use a slide to get to the cafeteria and the breakroom is a ball pit with a pinball machine on the ceiling, you might be better off dressing down a little bit.
As long as your appearance is fitting for the job you are applying for and sends the right message to your employer, you can’t go too far wrong. Again, being authentic is important. Most of us will dress up at least a bit more smartly than normal for a job interview, so interviewers won’t be expecting you to turn up in your casual clothes (unless appropriate). But if you go too far with trying to look smart, it can backfire.
Be Open and Honest
A good interviewer will try to get as much information as possible from you in as few questions as
possible. You should take their questions as prompts. Answer them, and then expand on that answer in some way to provide additional context and reasoning.
The more open and candid you are with your interviewer, the more stock they will place in the answers that you give. Show them that you are willing to talk when given the opportunity to do so. Just don’t talk too much, not every question needs to lead into a 10-minute anecdote.
If you have any concerns, anxieties, or other reservations about the job or business you are applying for, you shouldn’t be afraid to bring these up in your interview. This will further demonstrate to your interviewer that you have researched and thought about working for their business prior to your interview.
The best interviews, those most likely to lead to a firm job offer, tend to be fairly interactive. It’s always good to establish a back and forth with your interviewer. When you answer a question, offer a follow-up question if you can think of one. Don’t force one just for the sake of it, but if there’s an opportunity to demonstrate your initiative and that you are thinking ahead, take it!
According to Satya Nadella, a Microsoft CEO, a curious person is a “learn-it-all” and not a “know-it- all.” Asking questions is how we get answers, how we discover more about the people and the world around us. As well as asking questions relating to research that you’ve done beforehand, you should also ask your interviewer about anything that comes up during the course of your interview.
For example, if your interviewer mentions a company training program or other opportunities within the organization to develop yourself, ask them to tell you more. This won’t just demonstrate your attentiveness and curiosity, but it will also show that you are interested in opportunities for self-improvement.
This is probably the most difficult thing to get right. Some people just exude confidence, to the point where they can walk into a room and instantly have everyone swept up by their swagger and
aplomb. Unfortunately, for most of us, this kind of confidence doesn’t come nearly so easily.
However, just because you aren’t a confident person, it doesn’t mean that you can’t fake it for the duration of your interview.
Lots of people will avoid thinking about their interview prior to the big day because it causes them to feel worried and anxious. However, controlling your anxieties so you feel confident is all about the preparation. It is only natural to feel a little bit anxious before a job interview; most of this anxiety can be worked through, but not if you try to deny it to yourself.
The preparation we mentioned earlier should help to alleviate your fears somewhat. If your fears are less to do with potential rejection and more to do with a fear of the interview situation itself, this article from The Guardian contains several other excellent tips for maintaining your confidence for the duration of your interview.
It’s good to talk with your interviewer and to show them something about your personality. However, there are some topics that are best left out of the interview. Politics is the main one.
Unless it is relevant to a question you’ve been asked or relevant to the job itself, it is a subject best
There’s not much else to say here, it should (hopefully) be obvious what subjects you should steer clear of when talking to an interviewer.
Be Selective With Your Namedropping
If you already have some contacts within the business that you are applying to, it is often tempting to bring these people up in the interview to show that you have a connection to the business and have already made some inroads. However, if you are going to mention the names of existing workers, be very selective about who you mention.
If you have a good friend who works for the business and you know they are a sub-par employee, dropping their name isn’t necessarily going to do you any favours. Your interviewer will know all of these people on a professional level and they may well judge you by the kind of names you drop.
Make sure that any names you do drop belong to people who are liked and respected throughout the business.
We all get at least a little bit apprehensive before an interview; this is completely natural. But there are numerous things you can do to allay these fears. If you prepare properly, do your research beforehand, and stick to the advice outlined above, you won’t just nail every job interview you take, you’ll actually enjoy the experience.
Have you had a great interview – or a really awkward one? What are your tips for a good interview!