Let's face it, interviews can be daunting and overwhelming whether you are a fresh graduate or a veteran in your chosen field. If you have an upcoming interview, read the helpful tips below to become better prepared for your interview.
1. Research, research and research. This shouldn't come as a surprise because you need to research the best companies to work for that match your values prior to applying for any job. Research the leaders of the organization, their core values, mission and vision, strategic goals and corporate culture. It is also important to identify the core values that resonate with you the most. The hiring manager will be interested to know how much you know about the company and how they operate. If possible, ask for the names and positions of the people who will be in your panel or one-on-one interview. Research the job description and look at the competencies that are required to perform the job; think about your own competencies and see how they complement each other. This will also convince you if you are the right fit for the job and the organization.
2. Practice answering common interview questions. You may do this with a friend, in front of a mirror or with a Career Coach. Follow the STAR (situation, task, action, result) technique and prepare real work-life experiences that will help enrich your story line. Master your curriculum vitae or resume and look back at your past work experiences that would highlight your accomplishments. Do not be afraid to mention any growth areas or weaknesses, as long as you can tweak the story to reflect how you emerge as a positive and active learner, you will shine during the interview. Interviewers appreciate a candidate's vulnerability and capacity to take every opportunity to learn and grow from their mistakes. Answer as truthfully as possible as interviewers could tell if you are making up a story. Most of the time, they verify these stories with your past or current managers so honesty will go a long way.
3. Practice a firm handshake. Ask a friend or family member to practice the art of giving a firm, confident handshake. Remember to make an eye contact and smile before you shake hands with your interviewers before and after the interview. This would indicate that you are serious about the job and that you are confident and ready to join their organization.
4. Choose and wear an appropriate business attire. Go for neutral colors such blacks, whites, greys or dark blues and avoid bright colours unless you are interviewing for a marketing or cultural arts position. Choose simple jewelry and make sure your shoes are professional in nature. Remember that less is more and wearing too much make up or cologne may also distract your interviewers during an interview. More so, some facilities enforce a no-scent policy.
5. Allow for silence. A common mistake interviewees make is to answer a question right away without mulling over it. In my experience, when I allow for silence I give myself an opportunity to explain my story in chronological order and it usually yields greater success. Sometimes I even write on my notebook to gather my thoughts. When you take time to reflect on your past experiences during an interview, it shows that you are organized, thorough and have a good decision making skills.
6. Arrive a few minutes early. When you arrive on time it shows that you respect people's time. It is also an indication that you will honor your commitments and deadlines. Research the fastest route to the location of the interview and anticipate any possible delay. Eat a healthy breakfast and hydrate. If possible, choose a morning schedule to capture your interviewer's attention.
7. Ask questions after an interview. Prepare your questions about the job, for example, ask about the organizational structure, manager's leadership style, key result areas of the role or expectations in the next 100 days. You can also ask about the next steps in the recruitment process, this will alleviate your anxiety levels during the waiting game.
8. Be yourself. Let your personality shine and try your best to be calm and collected during the interview. Embrace the whole experience and manage your expectations. Remain positive during the job search and remember that you will get better after every interview.
9. Write a thank you note. Send the hiring manager and the recruiter a quick email after the interview to show gratitude for their time in considering you in the recruitment and selection process. This will show that you are thankful for the experience and committed to join their organization.
10. Apply for other career opportunities. In order to manage expectations and remain positive, keep the job search going. This will also keep you preoccupied while waiting for the job offer.
I wish you all the best in your career and remember "victory loves preparation". I'm rooting for you!