So, your resume caught the hiring manager’s eye and they’ve asked you to come in for an interview! It’s an exciting time, but it’s also the pivotal moment in the hiring process.
After all, you only have one opportunity to show that you’re just good on paper – you’ll also be a great addition to the team, culturally, and can help the company move toward their business goals.
While it may be intimidating to have your career hang in the balance of a short interaction, preparation is key to calming your nerves and knowing how to showcase your skills and personality.
We asked our recruitment consultants at Sirius People for their top tips and tricks on how to ace a job interview, from preparation through to post-interview etiquette.
Here’s how you can prepare for, and act during your upcoming job interview:
Reread the job description
Chances are, you’ve applied to a few roles before moving ahead to the interview stage.
Take some time to reread the job description to understand the purpose of the position, skills required, and duties. This will give you an idea of what your day-to-day will look like at your new place of work and what kind of interview questions to expect.
It will also give you some hints for what technical questions they may ask, and that you will need to prepare for.
What’s their story?
While you may have done a little bit of research into the company before applying for the role, it’s important to know the company backstory and structure before going into the interview.
Check their website; check their LinkedIn; ask your recruiter. If you know someone working at their organisation, reach out to them to learn more about the company.
This will help you gain insight to see how the company is growing, what their business needs may be and how you can add value to the company.
It will also help you prepare some questions to ask at the end of your interview, which is essential to show that you’re interested in the company and the role.
What’s the interviewer’s story?
Before your interview, try to find out who you will be meeting with. If it’s a hiring manager, avoid any technical jargon, as they will be assessing your people skills during this round of interviews.
If it’s one of your potential managers, do your research. Check their LinkedIn, job title and previous experience. (After all, you may have some mutual acquaintances!)
Know how to shine, using STAR
Behavioural questions are a common method of asking questions that allow the interviewer to determine a person’s potential performance by gaining insight on their past behaviours.
Before going into your interview, take some time to review common behavioural questions, such as:
- Give me an example of when you have had to be innovative to solve a problem.
- Tell me about a time where you had to learn something new to complete a task.
- Describe a time where you had to work toward an unexpected deadline or a situation where you had to adjust to unexpected changes. How did you handle it?
In these situations, interviewers are looking for you to give context, explain what task or event needed accomplishing, what you did to accomplish this and the result. An easy way to remember this is STAR:
Situation: Describe the context, details and time.
Task: Describe the event/task that required resolution or accomplishment.
Action: Described the actions you took to work toward this resolution or accomplishment, focusing on the “what” and “why.”
Result: What was the outcome of your actions? Think about the relationship perspective, as well as the task outcomes.
For more sample behavioural questions, be sure to contact your recruitment consultant.
Practice makes perfect
Call your recruitment consultant in advance to go through interview preparation, as they will have internal knowledge and background information on the company that you may not be able to find with a Google search. They know what their client is looking for, and can help you tailor your answers to their business needs.
If you’re not working with a recruiter, enlist a friend to help you prepare for both behavioural and technical questions. Or, film your responses to common behavioural and technical questions to see what areas you need to improve on in your answering.
Dress to impress
Research has shown that an interviewer will make an impression of you in the first 8 seconds of meeting you.
Ask your recruitment consultant what the dress code is at the office, and dress the part. When in doubt, dress smartly. A suit and tie, or a pencil skirt and blazer, may not be necessary everywhere, but it’s better to be overdressed than under.
Also, take the time to shine your shoes, and make sure that your hair, makeup, and nails are clean and professional.
Leading up to the Interview
The night before
On the night before the interview, be sure to lay out your clothes and know how you’re planning to get to the interview (and what time you need to leave at).
On the way over
Aim to arrive in the area about 15-20 minutes before the interview to give yourself time to catch your breath (and cool off!) before the interview. Grab a little something at a nearby cafe to give you a few minutes to go over your interview prep one last time.
Do not smoke during this time, if you’re a smoker. And don’t forget to throw out any chewing gum before going into your potential employer’s office.
As soon as you enter the building, be polite and professional to everyone you meet. You never know who you’ll meet, so it’s best to make a great first impression from the get-go!
Aim to let reception know you’ve arrived about 5-10 minutes before the interview. No earlier! There is such a thing as being too early, and it will make your interviewer feel uncomfortable knowing that you’re in reception waiting for them.
While you’re waiting for your interviewer, keep off your phone. Speak to the receptionist instead, or flip through some magazines.
During the interview
Meet & Greet
When you meet your Interviewer, be sure to greet them with a firm (but not bone-crushing) handshake and a friendly smile. Be sure to make eye contact when shaking their hand. Engaging in some small chit chat on the way to the interview room will also help you seal their first impression of you.
During the interview
Remain confident and relaxed during the interview process. Sit up straight in your chair and always maintain a healthy amount of eye contact with the interviewer.
Don’t be afraid to ask for 30 seconds to think of the most suitable example to give them. Or, ask the interviewer to clarify the question to buy yourself some more thinking time.
Be sure to give relevant details to answer the question, and remember the STAR structure for behavioural questions. If they ask you about something that you don’t have much experience in, show that you’re interested and willing to learn more about it.
At the end of the interview, take a couple of minutes to ask 1-2 questions that you’ve prepared. These should be relevant to the role or company, and should not be questions that have already been covered off during the interview or about salary.
Also, ask if there’s anything about your application that concerns them. This will give you an idea of how well they believe the interview went and gives you an opportunity to ease any concerns.
Finally, thank them for their time before leaving and ask when you can expect to hear back from them.
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