After hours of filtering through the numerous job advertisements online or in the local paper, you find the role you have been searching for. You are able to tick most, if not all, of the boxes next to the requirements for this role. You have the right amount of work experience and the correct level of education and you believe you possess the skills and attributes listed in the advertisement.
Ticking these boxes could get you short listed for an interview, but what steps can you take to ensure you make a great first impression in the interview, giving you a chance at having your future employer remember you as one of the best?
A very commonly asked question in an interview is ‘what do you know about our company?’ or ‘have you looked at our website?’ An employer will use these questions firstly to see how prepared you are for the interview and secondly to assess whether you applied for this role with an interest in the company. Before an interview you should visit the prospective employer’s website and familiarise yourself with what the company does, its history and its people. From there you can prepare yourself for the next question, ‘why do you want to work for our company?’
The second type of research that you should undertake, before an interview, is research on yourself. Know your work history, training and education inside out. Know the dates you started and finished in previous positions, as well as why you left them and most importantly what you learnt or achieved from your roles.
You might like to revisit the tasks that were assigned to you in your previous positions and match them to the responsibilites within the role of interest. This will reassure your future employer that you are able to complete the tasks required. I would suggest creating a report where you list your relevant experience underneath each of the responsibilities within your new desired job. This summary can be brought to the interview with your resume as a support document and can also be emailed after the meeting to the hiring managers (with some changes or amendments) as a strong follow up. This is called an “executive summary” and is very common in senior level recruitment.
So you have completed the research required and know what answers you are going to give to a few of the possible questions, but how can you soothe the pre-interview nerves and test how comfortable you are with your answers? Rehearsing out loud before a job interview is the single best method to identify gaps in your preparation work and build confidence and communication skills.
Rehearsing out loud in front of the mirror is a good way to start, but a more effective way is to rehearse in front of a friend or family member. This way they can tell you if you’re speaking too quickly, if your answers aren’t clear or whether you need to elaborate on certain areas. This also gives you the opportunity to practise things like eye contact.
Before attending the interview, be sure to know the name and title of the person you are meeting with. Also be sure to double check the address details, time and date of the interview and whether there is anything you need to bring.
Once you have obtained the address details it is a good idea to plan ahead with how you are going to get to the interview. If you will be driving, be sure to familiarise yourself with parking facilities around the area and allow for any walking time. If you are catching public transport, check the transport info line for timetable information, again allowing for any walking time and possible transport delays – remember that being on time for an interview shows a prospective employer that you are reliable. While being early for an interview is a positive thing, being too early can be the opposite! It is a good idea to arrive between 10-15min before the interview.
Appearance is a very important part in making a great first impression. When attending the interview you should pay extra attention to your appearance, being sure that your clothes are clean and well ironed and are free of any stains, marks and loose threads and buttons. To avoid any last minute wardrobe mishaps, select your outfit before the day of the interview.
Also be sure to avoid things such as loud ties, chipped nail polish, heavy makeup, sheer fabrics, heavy jewellery, unwashed hair or overpowering fragrances.
Conducting Yourself during the Interview
When first meeting the interviewer, always shake their hand and greet them with a smile, using strong eye contact. If taken into a meeting room, wait for the interviewer to offer you a seat before sitting down.
During the interview there are a few important things to remember:
- Don’t say anything negative about a past employer
- Don’t interrupt anyone
- Try to avoid answering questions with just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Try to elaborate on your responses
- Maintain eye contact
Questions to ask
It is also common place for the interviewer to open up the discussion for further questions that you may have. Having a list of questions that you want to ask shows a prospective employer that you have come prepared. Asking questions also allows you to assess if this is the right role or the right employer for you. It is recommended that you consider the following when preparing your questions:
- Make sure you do your research first. You don’t want to ask a question that could easily be answered via the company website.
- Know why you are asking the question. You should ask about issues only if the answers to your questions are likely to influence your decision should you be offered the job.
Some good questions to ask are:
- What is the culture like in the company?
- How many people are there in the company and in my team?
- What is the reason for this job vacancy?
It is recommended that you ask your questions at the end of the interview or once prompted by the interviewer.
Questions to prepare for
It is very likely that you will be asked questions during an interview which you could not have prepared for however, it is recommended that you prepare for some of the commonly asked questions such as:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your long and short term career goals?
- What attracted you to this role?
- What sort of management style do you prefer?
- Do you prefer to work in a small or large company and why?
Closing the interview
When the interview is coming to an end, be sure to state that you are interested in the role. If it hasn’t already been mentioned, ask the interviewer what the next steps will be. Thank the interviewer for their time and shake their hand upon leaving. Again, be sure to smile and make eye contact. If the interviewer asks for any final comments, then respond by summarising your interest and relevance for the role. One final chance to sell yourself!
Following up after the interview
One or two days after the interview, it is a good idea to send a thank you email to the person you met with. This keeps you fresh in their mind.
When writing the email, keep it simple and be sure to thank the person for their time and to restate your interest in the role.
Hopefully these steps will assist you in securing your next dream role! Good luck and please feel free to provide us with any feedback you may have about these steps.