Advice For Job Seekers
Candidate Interview Tips
Congratulations on securing an interview!
This is your opportunity to demonstrate your personal attributes, your strengths, personality, your ability to communicate and how you react under pressure. Here are some tips to assist you in selling your assets:
To ensure effective communication, it is very important to develop a good rapport with the person interviewing you. Of course, this is sometimes difficult, particularly if you "really want the job". However, you must relax - get that high-pitched or tense tone out of your voice - and appear to be calm and self-assured at all times.
One of the simplest ways of helping this is to smile a lot. Yes, when appropriate, smile. Not a grin but a genuine, warm smile. Ask yourself seriously: do you smile during the course of conversation?
Relax the Interviewer!
If you put the interviewer at ease they will immediately feel more comfortable with you, which will work to your benefit. Don't assume you're the only one who's tense. A lot of people doing the hiring are also a little tense when they conduct interviews.
Whether you get the job or not can often come down to the basics (interviewers will often make up their mind on gut feeling): Do I like you? Do I think you are going to fit into my organisation? Do I trust you? Would I buy from you? Would my customers take advice from you?
Ask Good Questions
This is a big tip! Don't just tell the interviewer how wonderful you are and how good your achievements have been. Demonstrate that you have done your homework, that you are really listening and you understand what's going on. You can do this by asking relevant questions about the company and the job in question. Taking an interest in the big picture, that is, the company, as well as the job itself, will have a positive influence on the interviewer. If, in the limited time of an interview, you can ask one or two questions that actually make the interviewer think about the answer, or better still, maybe cover issues they hadn't even thought of, then you really are on the home stretch.
An employer is often willing to give someone a chance, even if they don't have the right skills, because they are enthusiastic and passionate about a particular job. Demonstrate how keen you are. Do your homework and be definite: I want this job. Then follow up tenaciously. It does work!
Preparation Will Make or Break the Interview!
Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. Company interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants who drift into their offices without any apparent preparation and only the vaguest idea of what they are going to say.
It's important to clarify the following before the interview:
- Know the exact place and time of the interview; the interviewer's full name; the correct pronunciation; and their title
- Find out specific facts about the company - where its plants, stores or offices are located; what its products and services are; what its growth has been; what its growth potential is.
Be prepared to answer standard questions such as:
- Why did you choose this particular vocation? What do you really want to do in life?
- What do you want to be doing in your career five years from now? Ten years from now?
- What was the size of your last salary review? When was it?
- What style of management gets the best from you? Who was your best boss? Why?
- What interests you about our products or services?
- Can you get recommendations from previous employers?
- What have you learnt from some of the jobs you have held? What did you enjoy the most?
- What have you done that shows initiative in your career?
- What are your strongest skills?
- How do your skills relate to our company's needs?
- How can you contribute to the company?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- What do you know about us?
- What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company?
- How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
- What does teamwork mean to you?
- What's the best book you've read recently?
"Open probe" questions are different because they strike right at the heart of issues and require more than a yes/no answer.
- Why did you leave your last job? Why do you want to change jobs?
- Have a positive answer - confident, coherent and logical explanations are critical to the interview process.
- What is your greatest strength/weakness?
- Have some answers ready - even weaknesses can be presented positively, especially if you are doing something about them.
- What income are you looking for?
- Always give a range but try to be general.
- Why should I hire you?
- Here's a chance to review your strengths and show how you can make a big contribution. Sell your benefits, not your features.
- Why do you want to work for our organisation?
- Here is a chance to show how well you did your research before the interview.
You probably just skimmed over these lists so we want you to go back and read them again - carefully this time. Now take out some paper and start writing your answers - truthful answers that demonstrate your achievements. You will be put on the spot if you are not prepared.
The Do's and Don'ts of Interviews
- DO plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
- DO be courteous to the receptionist. Assume they will always share their impressions of you with the hiring manager!
- If presented with an application form, DO fill it out neatly and completely.
- DO greet the interviewer by their name.
- DO shake hands firmly.
- DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair, look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.
- DO look the person in the eye while talking with them.
- DO follow the interviewer's leads but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
- DO make sure that your good points get across in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to the interviewer. You must convince the interviewer of the need for you in their organisation.
- DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs - rather than only one.
- DO take a pen, paper and a diary with you. Then you can book the next appointment or ask for a date to follow up the result. It looks organised!
- DON'T answer questions with a simple yes or no. Explain wherever possible. Tell those things about yourself that relate to the position.
- DON'T lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and to the point as possible.
- DON'T ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employer.
- DON'T over-answer questions.
- DON'T enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses or benefits unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you. However, you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.
- DON'T panic if there's a silence. Take a few seconds to think about your answers. Keep calm, smile, and wait.
- DON'T come across as overbearing, conceited or a "know-it-all". This includes talking down to the interviewer, placing hands behind your head, etc.
Closing the Interview
You have come to the end of the interview. Don't make the mistake and nervously mumble "Thank You" and leave. Always be prepared to ask questions at the end of the interview - have at least one intelligent question that indicates you've been listening. Of course this is also a good opportunity to let the interviewer know that you are enthusiastic about the job. Don't worry about appearing too eager - as long as you're being yourself. The company is looking for an enthusiastic person, not someone who hasn't decided if this is the right career for them.
If you have answered the two questions uppermost in the interviewer's mind ("Why are you interested in the job and the company?" and "What can you offer and can you do the job?") then you have done all you can.
Good luck - and enjoy!