Your attitude strongly contributes to the interviewer’s opinion of you, so have the right one! Treat everyone you meet with courtesy, appear confident and competent, be enthusiastic and have an open mind, and hopefully the job will be yours.
Anticipation, preparation and confidence are the key skills to bring to an interview.
Prepare – Practise – Perform!
- Dress professionally and appropriately. Do not use any scented products.
- Arrive well on time. Have a contact number in case some dire emergency prevents this.
- Try to determine the format of the interview in advance in case there are tests or tours or other unusual elements.
- A firm handshake and good eye contact are very important.
- Sit in an upright but relaxed position. Maintain a calm and confident demeanor.
- Let the interviewer lead the interview. Listen carefully to understand the meaning and scope of a question.
- Be factual and positive when describing your experience and skills. Use power words but don’t brag or be self-effacing.
- If more than one person is interviewing you, direct your answers to all those present.
- Be flexible, prepared to consider all reasonable offers.
- Prepare some intelligent and relevant questions to ask the interviewer about the company.
- Don’t criticise yourself or past employers.
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer.
- Don’t answer a question with another question.
- Don’t appear nervous by fidgeting or jiggling.
- Don’t ask lots of questions about salary and benefits.
Prepare yourself for these interview questions
Give a potted version of your CV, focusing on the strengths, experiences and attributes that best fit the job description. Include those aspects of your personality or background that you hope will set you apart from the rest.
Do your homework and find out all you can about the company. Focus on those facts that are complimentary about the company, and the details that relate to your qualifications, skills and knowledge.
Some facts to know: What size is the company? What is its history? How many branches and where? How successful are they? Who are their main competitors? What are the names of the top brass? What is the reputation and culture of the company? Is it listed on the stock exchange?
Your answer should be short and direct, emphasizing the strengths that relate to the position’s needs and problems. Review the job description, answering it point by point with your skills. Finish your answer with a wrap-up statement such as: “I believe I have the qualifications and experience to add value to this fine business, and I would put my heart and soul into building a happy and successful career here.”
Detailing your hobbies and interests gives a more three-dimensional picture of you as a person, but keep it brief unless you can relate your interests to the role advertised.
Choose a skill or trait that either the company values highly, or the job description states is important. Tell a brief story about using this strength in a particular situation, and then state how this attribute could help the company.
You must have a specific story ready in which the situation was difficult but you dealt with it well and there was a positive outcome. If possible, place emphasis on having a cool head and a calm demeanor in a problematic situation.
Keep your answers short and positive for what you liked, and try to answer the dislike part indirectly by implying that this new job would have an element that was missing from your last job. For example: “I would enjoy working for a larger company.”
The interviewer wants to understand how you prefer to work and how you would fit into the management culture. Be ready to comment on your ability to learn fast and work alone, but also to be an enthusiastic team player.
Do your homework and be ready with an answer that suggests a desired and if possible specific career path within the company.
Be sure to have prepared some pertinent questions. Do not ask questions about compensation and benefits, but be ready to respond if they are brought up by the interviewer.
If you have not had yet an opportunity to showcase your knowledge of the company, now is the time to ask intelligent questions demonstrating your research. For example: “I know that you recently opened two new branches. Are there plans for further expansion?”
Other possible questions to ask:
- Does the job involve working as part of a team or on one’s own?
- What career opportunities exist within the company?
- How is employee performance evaluated?
- When will the hiring decision be made?
If you get offered the job you will have to negotiate your compensation and benefits. Make sure that the terms of your employment, including responsibilities, reviews, and related conditions are defined, and that you have a clear concept of what will be expected from you. Be sure your salary and conditions are such that will make you happy.