Preparing for an interview: where you practice sounding natural about achievements you've never bragged about so much in your life!
Interviewing can undoubtedly be a nerve-wracking experience for many.
The unfortunate reality is that a great many job seekers were never taught how to prepare for an interview. As such, they unknowingly make common mistakes that prevent them from getting their dream job.
Aside from looking polished and professional, arriving on time and doing your research, you should use this time to let your personality shine. Employers want to know you’re qualified for the position, but they also want to know that you’d be a good cultural addition. The way they assess this is through your personality and how you interact with them throughout the interview. (Forbes magazine).
Do your homework – before the interview check the company website and search to see if there’s any recent news about them. Research the people conducting the interview – by reading their LinkedIn profiles. A common interview question is ‘what makes you interested in working for our company?’ Hiring managers ask this to better understand your motivation for applying for the role. Not doing your homework and failing to research into the company is a sure way to be disqualified early on.
For remote interviews, test the technology beforehand – join the interview early in case there are hitches.
Never speak ill about your previous employer. One of the biggest red flags for an interviewer is when a candidate speaks badly about a current or past employer. It gives the interviewer the impression that should you be hired and then leave, you would also stab them in the back.
Talk about your achievements in previous roles – but use most of the time to explain how you achieved what you did and what you enjoyed about meeting the challenges – you them come across as ‘more rounded’
Interviews are often criteria based – where the interviewer is looking for examples of specific behaviour. They will give a score to the answers. If you are asked to give specific examples, make sure you do just that: for example, ‘tell me about a time you met resistance to your ideas and what did you do? Tell me about a high performing team you were part of and what you brought to the team?’
If there are specific requirements in the job advert or role profile, think of examples of your experiences in these areas before the interview and highlight them where possible during the interview.
When answering questions, it’s acceptable to use a small number of references to experience outside the work environment – for example, if you are asked about leadership and you have relevant none work experience.
If you are asked about your strengths, be specific. Most candidates answer this question with ‘working with people’ or ‘working as part of a team.’ You will stand out if you say specifically what aspects you are strong at and what specifically you enjoy.
When it comes to answering the ‘what’s your greatest weakness’ question, the worst thing you can say is that you have no weaknesses. This shows a lack self-awareness. Moreover, don’t make a weakness sound like a strength: ‘my weakness is I care too much’ or ‘my weakness is I have standards that are just too high.’ Everyone has weaknesses. The reason behind this question is not only to see how self-aware you are, but how you’re working to address and improve your weaknesses.
Be prepared to ask insightful questions. Interviewing is a two-way process. When you ask questions during an interview, it shows the interviewer you’re engaged, you’ve done your research and you care about more than just a salary. Asking questions only about the salary and benefits tells interviewers you only care about what’s in it for you.
What would success look like in the role?
What would the onboarding look like if I join the company?
How do you invest in employee’s development?
What makes you proud to work here?
What would you say would be my biggest challenge if I would join the company?
If you are being interviewed by the person you’ll be working for, ask a small number of questions about them – for example, about their leadership style (the best leaders talk about people development), what their expectations of you are (the best leaders have clear visions and expectations of their team) and how optimistic they are about company prospects in the forthcoming year (the best leaders are optimists).
Research the salary range for the role you’re being interviewed for – figures are available from LinkedIn, Glassdoor or through a simple Google enquiry.
Don’t avoid the salary question – give a salary range, including the minimum you would take the role for. While some recommend not giving a salary and avoiding the question altogether, ultimately everyone has a minimum salary in mind. Furthermore, company’s typically have an inflexible budget in order to not waste your time or the company’s, it’s important to be transparent up front