Interviews for new jobs, whether they are for your first career or you’re changing jobs later in life, are always nerve-wracking. They can often be hugely important, and it is that importance that can make them more difficult than they need to be – we make things harder for ourselves by imagining all kinds of issues that will, in most cases, not even come up. Apart from our imaginations causing problems, there are other reasons why we might feel nervous including being underprepared. Here are some useful tips for a successful interview so that, whether you get the job or not, you will know you did your best.
One of the most important things you need to do before stepping through the door of the interview room is to research the company you are being interviewed for a job at. Without this knowledge, you can easily find some of the interview questions much more difficult than you should do, when a little background reading would have given you the answers. Not only that, but not having any information about the company will tell your interviewer that you are not that interested in the job after all; if you were, that research would have been done. Plus, if you haven’t researched something as important as your interview, are you going to research what you need to for your job?
Learning what you can about the company, and the industry you are hoping to work in, will show you in a good light and make the interview easier in general.
Know Why You Want The Job
In most interviews, you will be asked why you want that particular job, so this is an answer you can (and should) prepare in advance. You need to show that you really do want the job, and even if you really did only apply because the location is convenient or the money is what you are looking for, or you wanted the company car, those are not good reasons. Instead, you should give reasons that link to your personality and your skills, letting your interviewer know that you would be an asset as well as being passionate about the job you are applying for. If you can’t come up with anything, then it may be best to look for somewhere else to apply, as you may well find that you don’t enjoy the job if you do get it.
Being professional in an interview is hugely important. It starts with dressing for the part, so take into account what role you are interviewing for and dress appropriately. If there is a uniform that you would need to wear if you got the job, then simply dress smartly. You won’t necessarily have to wear a full suit, but something that is neat, and tidy is a good idea. Stay away from jeans and t-shirts, for example. The first impression you give of yourself when you walk through the door is important, and what you wear will help or hinder the idea of you that interviewers will get.
Being professional isn’t just about dressing smartly. It is about being polite, having the right attitude, and, despite your nerves, answering questions well. You can learn more about being professional here.
Although no one can be completely sure what questions they will be asked during an interview, it is possible to anticipate some of the more obvious. This will include why you want the job as mentioned above, and also questions such as what you can bring to the company, where you see yourself in five years’ time, what your experience is and more. Some questions will be more closely related to the industry and the company itself rather than more generalized, and this is where the research you will have done earlier will help you. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what will be asked, you will already have ideas for the answers that will be required.
As well as the questions, you can also try to anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations. Interviews have to find ways to eliminate some people from their shortlist. Otherwise, they will never be able to decide who should have the job, and they will certainly ask about your shortcomings. Think of yourself from their perspective and work out what might worry a potential employer when looking at your resume. If you can be honest about this, you can come up with answers to allay their concerns.
At the end of an interview, most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions. This is not just a formality or a polite thing to do – this is still part of the interview. Having some intelligent questions in your mind before you even walk through the door means that you can show that you can think clearly, that you aren’t afraid to ask questions, and that you are keen to know more about the job or the company in general. If you say you have no questions, this could put a potential employer off from hiring you, so always have at least one questions ready to go – you may come up with more during the course of the interview as well.
Some questions that will always work well if you really can’t think of anything to ask include: ‘What’s the best thing about working here?’, ‘How do you promote a life-work balance?’ or even ‘May I have a look at the office?’. The answer to this last question might be a no, due to sensitive work, for example, but asking shows that you are interested.
Practice is especially important if you have never had an interview before, but even if you have, it’s a good idea to rehearse what you are going to say, and how you are going to say it. Ask a friend or family member to stand in for the interviewer, and answer their questions honestly and carefully. Not only will this give you more confidence when you go for the real interview, but you will also have a better idea of what you are going to say to some of the more obvious questions.