Going to an interview can often feel a little nerve racking, especially if you are out of practice or have a tough time selling yourself. Although a perfect match can never be guaranteed, you can increase your chances of correctly presenting yourself by following these 10 steps:
1. Read and understand the company website, social media pages and latest blogs
The ‘how did you prepare’ or ‘what do you know about us’ questions are classic in most interviews. This is the moment for the interviewer to identify how serious and prepared you are for the job you are applying for. It is always impressive for candidates to read the website and convey a true understanding of what the company is doing. Avoid reading the website out, try to use your own words. To score bonus points, have a look at their social media or latest blogs to grasp an understanding of the message they are trying to convey to the world.
2. Research who you are talking to
If you were going to visit a client, you may learn the names + do a little research on the people you are speaking to in order to show you are prepared and make a good first impression. An interview is no different in this case, you are still talking to human beings. Taking a little bit of time to learn about who you are talking to shows the interviewers that you have done a deep dive research into the company and are personally interested in who they are. We would even advise you to ask a personal question to one of them. For example, I noticed you studied at xxxx university, what made you choose that study? A personal approach is sometimes the best way to make a good first impression.
3. Clarify your unique points
Before you step into the interview, write down the 5 points which make you stand out to other candidates. Try to avoid the typical answers by thinking of examples or aspects which really make you different, add explanation also. For example: I am a persistent person who is not afraid of no’s. Last year, a customer said no to me 10 times but I kept going until I got a yes. That answer reflects your strength with a clear example to back up what you are saying. Do not answer long winded but prepare enough information to elaborate on your strength to make it more believable.
4. Clarify your improvement points
No one is perfect and guess what, companies don’t want to hire perfect! More times than not, companies want to help employees to learn and improve themselves. Therefore, do not be afraid to highlight where you need to improve. Usually a candidate who cannot answer the improvement questions, shows interviewers that they lack some type of self-reflection. Own your improvement points as most companies will want to take them under their wing to help turn them into your strengths.
5. Prepare questions and bring them along with a notebook
Before the interview, prepare some questions to bring along to the interview. Bring a notebook and open it to take notes. Not only does it make you look like you are seriously interested, it is also a moment for you to have questions answered in your mind which can help you make your final decision. An example could be; what do you like most about your job? How would my on boarding look? Even at the end, try to find a question or summarise what you understand from the position/next steps. A moment trying to find clarity is never a wasted moment!
6. Avoid vague answers
During an interview, it is important to stay as specific as possible. Many times, companies ask candidates what they are looking for and they answer with – a challenge. What does this mean exactly though? If a company asks you a what, why or how question try to answer as specific as possible. For example; why do you want this position? A clear answer would be: I noticed this position is international, a hybrid of Sales and Marketing which is what I am looking for in my next step. The answer is specific and places a future perspective which the company can use to assess if they can offer you that.
7. Be aware of your body language during an interview
It is important to go well dressed to an interview. If you have concerns, ask the hiring manager what is the dress code. During the interview, pay attention to your own body language. A few tips: offer a firm handshake, maintain eye contact when someone is speaking, practice non-verbal listening gestures such as nodding or smiling. Sit up straight, remain assertive and let the interviewers lead you in the conversation.
8. Reflect positive with self-reflection
The moment you start heavily complaining about previous experiences, the ears of the interviewers start to prick. No one wants to listen to someone unloading their problems in an interview. It is far more beneficial to reflect authentically on your experience yet add a positive note or your own self-reflection into the conversation to show the interviewer how you deal with negative circumstances. For example: I do not have a good click with my current manager but I think that is because I am someone who thinks more and he is quicker when it comes to taking action. We did not always have a good relationship but we have found our way now. In this example, you are conveying an honest experience yet also taking responsibility in that. This shows how you deal with experiences that come your way without unloading negativity to the interviewer during the conversation.
9. Be mindful of your answers
It is very important in an interview to not answer with long stories, avoid questions or mis answer. Therefore, make sure you keep your answers are short with a point, explain and example method, check if you misunderstand something and do not avoid answering questions by speaking over them.
10. End on a high
After a two hour conversation, the energy can sometimes drop a little as you have been speaking for a long time. It is important to end the conversation how you started it, eager, energetic and positive. If you leave the interview on a lower energy note, the interviewer may think you are not interested or lost interest in the conversation. Therefore, even if you are feeling a bit tired, do not forget to keep your energy levels up and express your interest again if you really want the job. Ask the interviewer for the follow up steps so you can manage your own expectations.