Sometimes in life, you just feel like half way through. Half way through school, half way through your workout, half way home… And we have to win the other half! And sometimes one of these halves is a job interview, something (and most of the time someone(s)) standing between you and your dreamed job. In this article I will present 11 tips to succeed handling your next job interview.
1 – Knowing the business (and the people) as accurately as possible will bring you past the starters.
As my father used to say « You’re not here to play extra » (like these actors in the background of lead casts in the movies and series). So in order to get as much chance as possible, you will have to gather as much knowledge as you can regarding the company and its stakeholders. Maybe not to the point of profiling their own personalities and knowing the tiniest of their habits, but surely getting to know the values and the culture of the organisation will help you to organise your speech to approach the situation when the time comes for the interview.
Regarding the people you are going to be meeting with, it may be hard to figure out what they are looking for in the person of a potential employee or teammate. But social media can be of interest in that regard if you can see the kind of people they are following and socializing with. It can also help you picking up some topic for an ice-breaking discussion for example, or writing down your list of questions! And yes, absolutely, in order to succeed at handling your next job interview, you will want to have some thoughtful questions to ask when you will be invited to do so during the interview. So go on and work on that list!
2 – Preparation is not only about your curriculum. Get the logistics sorted as well!
Also, don’t forget the logistics! Check the address on Google Map so you’re more prepared and know what to look for when you arrive on site. If you live close by to the area and are able to make the trip in the days before that’s even better. Doing so will allow you to check the commute or the route and have a better idea of the time it will take.
Of course, you will also need to be sure to go through a proper preparation of your interview. Like rehearsing it with a friend or family, craft your introductions and postures in front of a mirror. Prepare some extra copies of your resume, just in case. Depending on the position (specially in manager/executive types of role or contract positions), some personal/business might come in handy.
While handling your next job interview, be sure to cover the conventional questions and get out of your confort zone by specially tackling the uncomfortable ones: “Why did you leave your last position?”, “What strengths would you bring to this company?”, “What has picked up your interest in this job posting?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. Overall, be sure you have your sales pitch ready for “Why should we hire you?”.
3 – The right clothing might not be the most obvious option…
First impression matters, appearance does too! And people will want to know if you are going to fit in the team and into the company’s culture. One of the indicators for that is the way you dress. And the tricky thing is that it all depends of the people within the company! Don’t assume that business men or lawyers are alway wearing suits… Sometimes an attire that is too sophisticated is worse than a selfless casual one…
You really have to find some kind of balance here. Again one of the key for that is checking the corporate identity of the company online and on social media. Websites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor will be great assets here. You will probably find a page on the company’s website presenting the team members, or a gallery or a video showcasing the premises and/or the everyday life in the company. It’s worth having a look. Also, it doesn’t hurt asking, once you’ve been invited for the interview, about any particular dress code in place in the company.
On another hand, don’t be too cheap and patch up clothes together. If you need a proper pair of pants or a proper skirt, go buy some! If you don’t have any yet, these are basics you are guaranteed to need much more than once. They are like salt and pepper, you always have to have some, somewhere around. They are just fundamental tool for handling your next job interview.
4 – Recruiter like their candidate to be on time. But being a bit early is even better.
There you are, this is the big day so wether or not there is apocalyptic weather outside, you have to leave early enough to avoid being late. That could be an absolute killer for your whole application. I know it’s a bit unfair but that’s the truth of the real world! If you can’t manage to be on time for a job interview, how will you do under fire with 3 projects or tasks to deliver on a 3 hours deadline?! And yes this happens… A lot.
So basically, let’s suppose that you did all that you could to be on time but unfortunately you are not going to make it and you are going to be more than 5 minutes late… Just move on and don’t show up… That lead will be cold dead by then. If you feel like it you can always give a call to the recruiter and say something really urgent came up at the last minute and maybe you’ll be able to get the interview rescheduled but there is no guarantee. Anyway what I mean is showing up while being more than 5 minutes late is an outrage in the corporate world and that will not bring you any good. So just be on time, and ideally be early, like 5 or 10 minutes early. That appears very neat.
5 – Don’t forget recruiters are humans being too. Be calm and don’t forget to break the ice.
So you are there, on time. That’s great. But it’s sensible you’re quite strung up and you know what ?! Nothing is going to happen for the next 10 or 15 minutes. You’re going be greeted, released from your coat, bag, or whatever accessories the day will have got you to bring in, then you will proposed something to drink… Everything is going to be fine so there is no need to stress out at this stage! Instead focus on some ice-breaking approach, something you’ve read on the company’s website or their blog…
Also, it helps not to be trying to appear like someone you’re not. So just be yourself. Otherwise you are going to waste a lot of energy pretending to be someone else, for nothing because at some point your true personality will pop up. Also, the more you pretend, the more stress you put on yourself…
6 – Be at ease, but don’t forget where you are and what for.
Like when we’re home, it’s custom to greet our professional partners with a bit of hospitality and propose them something to drink. However, be aware you’re not at the coffee house around the corner (even if you are interviewing at that same coffee house). So when asked for what you would like to drink, don’t go with your usual half-lactose-free-gluten-free-fairtrade-mochacino-with-a-cloud-of-organic-hazelnut-cream-on-the-top… If you don’t feel like having anything in particular, just ask for glass of water! It’s always useful!
7 – Stay at the right place.
The interview has started a while ago and something doesn’t seem quite right… It might be because you and you interviewer are not on the same key. Then, an important skill at handling a job interview is to remain at the right place and not to be taking the lead of the interview. Otherwise you will intimidate and involve defiance from the recruiter. It’s also important not to be looking like you’re in a hurry or you want to force a successful end to the meeting. On the other hand, you have to know when it’s time to move on into the meeting or when it’s time to end it. So it’s all about body language and listening here.
8 – Almost done: Don’t forget to get the questions going!
The interview is going well. Soon, after they presented the company, ask you a few questions about your profile and other things, your interviewer asks you if you have any questions about the role or about the company. The worst thing to say is « No I’m good thanks! ». That translates into: you have no interest in the role or the company, you just want a pay cheque so why the recruiter should waste any more time talking or working with you.
Instead, get your list of thoughtful questions you will have prepared during your research phase (I told you, you would have to ask some questions). However sometimes, it’s true, you just can’t find any question to ask. And that’s when the dumb answer « No thanks, I’m good » is so easy to pitch in. In order to keep your chances up at handling a job interview, keep it around the classics:
- « What is it like working here? »
- « What does the typical day look like? »
- « Are there many team events? »
- « What is the average age across the team?»
Be careful though, DO NOT get anywhere near the compensation package unless it’s been brought on by the recruiter. This will make you look like you’re only interested in the benefits and the pay cheque.
9 – Above all, trust your guts.
We all have that. Guts, instinct telling us what to think about a certain situation and wether or not we should stick around or leave. Well, our guts have their words to say about what we’ll do for a living, or more specifically where we’ll be doing it. Therefore, if something doesn’t seem quite right to you in what you see or what you feel (it could the ambiance, the way people behave or talk, the product(s) you’d be working on…), maybe it doesn’t worth it that you loose an hour of your time and your interviewer’s talking about an opportunity that is not one for you after all. And surely you’d have to move on to the next one, life is too just short!
10 – The game changer.
Finally, as you’ve read through this all, I’d like to give a little trick here. Something you can use to turn the whole thing around if you’d like to shake things up a bit in the interview and surprise recruiter. When comes the time for questions, ask this :
« In your opinion, what distinguishes a good employee and an excellent employee ?»
Surprise effect is almost guarantee and this could even turn around a whole freezing-cold interview… I’ve used it quite a few times and that usually got me out of trouble in making a fairly good impression as a potential employee.
11 – Follow up and stay in touch.
Some things never get old. Sending a personalized memo a couple of hours after your interview will certainly help to cultivate the interest in your application. If you want to do this in the pure tradition, you can double your thank-you-note-email with a handwritten note that you’ll send a few days after your interview. In these communication, it’s important to take the time to thank the recruiter(s) for their time and their interest into your profile and to highlight the main topics that you covered together. Don’t take this as a chance to extend the discussion though. Also, make it clear that you’ve taken into account their inputs as well. This will demonstrate and prove (if need be) your abilities at handling a job interview.
Should you need some inspiration there, check out this template from The Balance.
So that’s it. Here is my advice to manage and handle your next job interview. I hope this has been helpful to read. Please let me know your thoughts on these in the comments below!
Also, if you have trouble to get to the interview phase and you need help at writing more compelling resumes, I invite you to try myperfectresume.com.
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