What to Prepare For
You’ve nailed your CV, got a haircut, and bought that new suit; now, what’s left between you and that dream job is the dreaded final interview. It sucks, we know! No matter how much experience you may have, or the type of job you’re applying for –– interviews will always be daunting to go for. And in any tell me about yourself interview, you’ve got to be prepared. Hence, we’ve put together a list of all the essential and helpful tips that will snag you that job.
Tips for Acing A Job Interview
1. Knowledge Is Power
There’s nothing more embarrassing than an applicant not knowing his own company’s details. Ensuring that you have sufficient background information on your employers is key to a successful interview, so don’t shy away from browsing through the company’s mission, vision, and accomplishments! Social media channels (such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Facebook) are great platforms to get to know the company, staff, and future colleagues on a more personal level, as well. The more you know, the better! Coming prepared will add a great boost to your confidence, and allow you to relax into the interview properly.
2. Get Ready for Personal Questions…
You may be wondering, what’s so difficult about answering seemingly harmless personal questions? Most questions (yes, even ones like “What are your hobbies?”) help employers gain insight into your personality, likes, and dislikes; and in doing so, gauge whether you’re a good company fit. Ensure that you practice (but don’t over-rehearse!) your questions, and refrain from referring back to CV when doing so. Keep your answers authentic, sincere, and genuine –– make sure to always include something interesting to sustain the conversation.
3. The Dreaded Weakness Question
The last thing your manager wants to hear is another cliche “I work too hard”, I’m a perfectionist”; or even worse, an “I have no weakness” response! The best response to such questions is, to be honest with yourself –– choose a weakness that you have, but spin it into a strength. For example, you might add, “I can be slightly impatient, but only because I like to stay on the ball and ensure that my teammates and I complete our tasks on time.” In this way, you’re portraying yourself as humble and sincere, instead of appearing overly confident and cocky.
4. Addressing CV Gaps
Don’t fret if you’re presented with the infamous CV gap question! You’ve already piqued their interest enough to warrant an interview, so you don’t want to overthink this. Remember to take a deep breath, answer with honesty, and structure your answers clearly and positively. Begin by explaining why you were unemployed, and emphasize on how that is proactively productive –– for example, you may have taken time off to care for a family member, to travel, or to work on yourself. Avoid apologizing or delving into the details of your time off, but focus on how the experiences have helped develop you further for the job.
5. …and even for the unexpected ones!
We feel you! Interviews can be stressful enough, even without employers throwing in weird and wacky questions –– so why do employers ask them, anyway? Bizarre questions such as “If we were in an apocalypse, what would you do to ensure your survival?” are often thrown in to catch unsuspecting employees off guard, and are meant to evaluate how they can answer positively under pressure. There’s no politically correct answer to this, hence you’re free to answer these questions based on your creativity and wit, but do remember to keep the job at the back of your mind. Keep your answers light, creative, but also work-appropriate. For example, you may answer the apocalypse question as: I’d gather a team of fast-runners and go hide somewhere for the first few weeks –– let the big guns fight it out first!
6. Remember Your Interview Etiquette
Tardiness, gossiping, and being tactless are strict no-goes during an interview. Over-sharing, dominating the conversation, or making inappropriate jokes are other ways that will put the employer off. Instead, here are some tips on how to observe interview etiquette: addressing your interviewers appropriately, observing good body language, turning off your cell phone, and letting the interviewer run the show. Refrain from asserting dominance and allow the interviewer to complete his or her sentence before proceeding forward. Always remember that an interview is never completed unless you’re driving down the road, so be mindful of the way you exit the interview as well!
7. Don’t Break Your Composure
Instead of panicking or rambling on when you’re stumped by a question, try taking a deep breath and asking confidently for some time to get back to the answer. Answering the easier questions can help you to build up your confidence, and provide you with tips or insights on how to tackle the harder ones. However, you should avoid using this tactic often, as avoiding the question too often can cause you to seem unprepared.
8. Dress As Though You’ve Got The Job
First impressions are crucial for an interview, as employers tend to form an opinion of you even before you begin to speak! The best interview dressing and grooming should be one that makes you feel confident and comfortable enough to fit right in with the company. There is no one size fits all for interview dressing, so you should take the time to plan your outfit to gel in with the company’s culture –– for example, wearing a suit for banks, and smart casual for an agency. If you’re new to dressing professionally, try practicing wearing one in advance to ensure that you’re not overly uncomfortable when the day comes. To end it off, make sure to pair your outfit with appropriate footwear and jewelry of your choosing.
9. Questions, Questions, Questions
Never leave an interview without posing a final question for your interviewer. It helps to provide you with an opportunity to make a lasting impression and allows you to demonstrate your critical thinking and people skills. However, you should be warned that you will be judged based on your thoughtfulness and depth of your question, so ensure that you have read up about your company’s latest developments or launches to be safe!
One way to ask intelligent questions is to ask about the challenges that the company is facing or some of the best and worst features of the job. This can give you an idea of how you can help to improve the company and where to focus your energy on. Additionally, you can make the question more memorable by adding in bits and pieces of personal information, such as your previous community work experiences, or your external hobbies/interests.
10. Follow-up Appropriately
A good way to further express your appreciation for the opportunity is to send a follow-up email to the interviewer. Additionally, it’ll be nice to praise the company and emphasize how you’d be a good fit for the job. Not only is this common courtesy, but it helps your name to stand out amongst the rest of the interviewees. Do remember to send the email within 24 hours of your interview: an email sent too early or too late may cause you to appear either desperate or messy.
Though interviews may seem incredibly daunting, it’s important to remind yourself to relax and be natural: you’ve already piqued their interest! Let the conversation flow naturally and create a meaningful connection with the interviewer.
However, do remember that not everyone can score in an interview, even if you’ve followed all our tips in doing so. If you end up not being hired for the job, don’t fret! Take your interview experience –– be it both bad or good –– and improve on what you think you could have done better. If this doesn’t work out, don’t lose hope. There will always be a better job waiting out there for you. All the best!