Practical tips for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 5 - You have been invited to an Interview
Posted on 26 July 2019
Yay for you! You got that interview. Now you need to put your head down, research and revise! There are a million articles on the internet on how to prepare for an interview. I will save you the time, and tell you, from my experience and the best interview guides I found on the internet, what you need to know and do.
Most recruiters will add all the relevant detail when they send confirmation of the interview, but if they don’t, this is what you need to know. When confirming the interview, find out the following
· Will it be a technical interview or just a getting to know you interview?
· If it is a technical interview, could they give you any tips on where you need to concentrate your revision.
· Who will you be meeting with?
· What is their website address?
Ensure you have a copy of the job description.
Now you are armed with the information you need. Let’s get you ready for that all-important interview
Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well:
Make a good and lasting impression. You won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
If it is a telephone interview - All other interview protocol applies.
PREP is key!
Get into a professional mindset. It will be apparent in your voice. Get dressed and prep as if you were going in person.
Get away from noise. Dog's barking, screaming kids all distract. Make sure you are not interrupted
Smile while talking. This projects in your voice
Switch off all other notifications on your phone and laptop (if open).
Answer the phone professionally, stating your name.
If it is a conference call, try to put a name with a voice quickly
Remember, you only have your voice and your words.
If it is a SKYPE interview
Elsewhere in this guide I talk about a Skype call, but many interviews now take place via Skype so it deserves a special mention.
PREP as if you are going to a face to face (It IS a face to face)
The above also applies to Skype interviews, but check your background! make sure it is tidy and nothing to distract from the business at hand.
Test your Skype connectivity & account before the scheduled time
Review your CV and what is on it
- Take time to review your resume and experience and its relevance to the position. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the position description and demonstrate your ability to do the job.
- Know your CV - Refresh your memory on the details of present and past employers and your work history for each. You will be expected to know a lot about a company for which you have previously worked. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements.
Know your potential employer
· Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and the correct pronunciation of their title. Being late because you got lost is not an excuse in this day and age. If you have the name of the person interviewing you, check out their profile on LinkedIn,
· Do your research. Visit the website of the organisation, Google IS your friend. Understand the organisation's products and services, size, locations, and growth potential.
· The day before the interview, ensure you have a hardcopy of your CV. Take an extra copy along. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, take those along too. Pack a pen and a pad of paper to make notes.
· If you are applying for a technical role – Be prepared to do a spot test. Brush up on technical theory beforehand. The job spec will guide you
· Allow plenty of time to prepare
Dressing well – Dress for Success
· Pay attention to all aspects of your dress and grooming.
· Plan out a wardrobe, striving for the most professional appearance you can accomplish. Remember that it’s always better to be overdressed than under — and to wear clothing that fits and is clean and pressed.
· Keep accessories and jewellery to a minimum.
· Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview — and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash.
Today's casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as "they" do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed.
Arrive on time, relaxed and prepared for success
There is no excuse for ever arriving late for an interview — other than some sort of disaster. Check Google maps so you know exactly where to go, do a dry run if possible. Factor in the traffic. I once had a candidate who thought he knew the area like the back of his hand. He was wrong and arrived 45 min late for his interview. No, he did not get that job. Strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview to complete additional paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled. Arriving a bit early is also a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace.
Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Responses.
· Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. Your goal is composing detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool for remembering your responses is to put them into story form that you can tell in the interview. No need to memorize responses (in fact, it’s best not to), but at least develop talking points. Find more information on the internet relating to interview specific questions
· Make a list of your short & long-term career goals but don’t say you want the Chairman’s job in 5 years. (Even if you do!). Make sure the goals are attainable.
· Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a two-way street. The employer will try to determine if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must decide whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.
· Be prepared to communicate why this role appeals to you, why you should be considered for this role.
· Communicate the VALUE you can bring.
As you get to the offices, shut off your cell phone. (And if you were chewing gum, get rid of it.)
Make Good First Impressions — to Everyone You Encounter.
· Be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet — from parking attendant or receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious how job applicants treat staff members — and your job offer could easily be derailed if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff.
· A cardinal rule of interviewing: When greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm (neither limp nor bone-crushing) handshake.
· Remember Body Language, avoiding Bad Habits. While the content of your interview responses is paramount, poor body language can be a distraction at best — or a reason not to hire you at worst. Be aware of your posture.
· Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
· Be Authentic, Upbeat, Focused, Confident, Candid, and Concise. Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding truthfully to interview questions. At the same time, your goal is to get to the next step, so you’ll want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills, experience, and fit — with the job and the employer. Provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments — but keep your responses short and to the point.
Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
It's about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning -- or quick ending -- to your interview.
Effective forms of body language: smiling, eye contact, solid posture, active listening, nodding.
Detrimental forms of body language: slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with pen, fidgeting in chair, brushing back hair, touching face, chewing gum, mumbling.
By preparing responses to common interview questions you’ll ideally avoid long, rambling responses that bore interviewers. Always attempt to keep your interview responses short and to the point.
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Don't Talk Too Much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position's requirements and relating only that information. This has happened. One particular candidate springs to mind. It was a Skype interview, he was perfect when answering the standard questions, and aced the technical questions. When the “formal” part of the interview was over, he relaxed and started talking about his personal life. He totally “creeped” the interviewer out with his stories. That is a direct quote when I got feedback from my client. Yes, prolonged silence can make you nervous and tend to make you talk too much. Find a way to deal with it, other than confessing all your inadequacies. Fill the silence with intelligent, thoughtful questions relating to the job if you start feeling uncomfortable.
Don't Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer's demeanour. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language
It's a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation -- these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don't Be Cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you're putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take Care to Answer the Questions
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioural interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behaviour. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don't answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
No matter how much an interviewer might bait you, never badmouth a previous employer, boss, or co-worker. The interview is about you — and making your case that you are the ideal candidate for the job because of the VALUE you can bring.
Ask Insightful Questions. Studies continually show that employers make a judgment about an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not the interviewee asks questions. Thus, even if the hiring manager was thorough in his or her discussions about the job opening and what is expected, you must ask a few questions.
Questions You Can Ask at the Job Interview
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, "No." Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you're asked during the interview and asking for additional information. You must ask at least one question; to do otherwise often signals the interviewer that you don’t really have any interest in the job or the company. On the other hand, do not ask questions where the answer is obvious or readily available — or when the topic has already been thoroughly discussed in the interview. And never ask about salary and benefit issues until those subjects are raised by the employer. The best questions to ask should come directly from your research of the employer, but the following are some more general questions you can ask of your interviewer(s).
Questions a job-seeker might ask at a job interview:
• What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of this job?
• Can you describe the company’s (or division’s or department’s) management style?
• How would you describe the company’s values?
• Does the organization support ongoing training and education for employees to stay current in their fields?
• What do you think is the greatest opportunity facing the organization in the near future?
• Is there a formal process for advancement within the organization?
• What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?
Selling yourself and leave the door to success open
An adage in interviewing says the most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired — which means the hired candidate is often the job-seeker who does the best job in responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization.
Some liken the job interview to a sales call. You are the salesperson — and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems, propel its success.
Finally, as the interview winds down, ask about the next steps in the process and the timetable the employer expects to use to make a decision about the position.
Thank Interviewer(s). Common courtesy and politeness go far in interviewing; thus, the importance of thanking each person who interviews you should come as no surprise.
Job interview Do's and Don'ts
Here are a few more do's and don'ts for being at your best during a job interview
· Greet the interviewer by their first name.
· Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright and always look alert and interested. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile!
· Maintain eye contact.
· Follow the interviewer's leads but try to get them to describe the position and duties early in the interview so you can relate your background and skills to the position.
· Make sure you convey your good points factually and sincerely. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make them realise why they need you in their organisation.
· Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be free to choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.
· Speak clearly & concisely.
· Answer questions with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. Use the CAR technique (Context, Action, Result) wherever possible. Share things about yourself relating to the position.
· Lie. Always answer questions truthfully, frankly and as concisely as possible.
· Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers, colleagues or companies.
· 'Over-answer' questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. It is best to answer the questions honestly, saying no more than is necessary.
· Let your discouragement show. If you get the impression the interview is not going well and you have already been rejected, don't show discouragement or alarm. Occasionally an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
· Ask about salary, bonuses or holidays at the first interview - unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first. However, know your market value, BASED ON THE VALUE YOU CAN BRING, rather than what you mate is earning, and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.
Increasing your chances of Job Interview Success
Succeeding in job interviews takes research, practice, and persistence. The more effort you put into your interview preparation, the more success you’ll see in obtaining job offers. The interviewer will also see how much effort you have put in to researching the company, your thoughtful questions relating to the role they are interviewing you for and how you conduct yourself
Getting feedback after the interview
If you are dealing with a recruitment company, mail or call the recruiter or call to give them your take on the company / interview. If you have concerns, discuss this so that the recruiter can clear up any issues before they become a problem. Because the recruiter earns money by making successful placements, you can be assured that they will sort out any potential issues, and follow up regularly with the company who interviewed you to get feedback. If you have not heard back from the recruiter within a few days, follow up with a mail. Some companies do take longer to make a final selection because of their internal processes.
If you were approached directly by the company, send a polite email thanking them for their time, and you look forward to hearing from them.
Wait at last a week before following up. Then once a week after that.
How to handle rejection
You finally received feedback and your application was not successful. Respond to the rejection letter with a polite thank you, and ask them if they could share with you why you were unsuccessful, to enable you to improve on the areas you did poorly. When they do that, respond again with a thank you and that you value their feedback and hope that one day you would be able to add value to their team, then move on! Do not let that rejection define you. Use it as a tool to hone your skills and to ensure you get better at this job seeking thing.
It is basically a rinse and repeat situation with sending CV’s and interviews that don’t work out. The big thing is that you don’t give up, you improve. See every failed interview as a chance to learn and sharpen your interview skills, and one step closer to that job offer.
Go back to the beginning of this guide and start over, using the feedback you received to change things if necessary or to upskill. Register for the free on line courses that are available in your field.
Part 6 - You nailed it...or not..but it doesn't end there / Conclusion.
Don't blow it!
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Have you caught up with the previous related posts?
Part 1 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 2 - Preparing your Brand
Part 3 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 3 - Preparing your CV
Part 4 - Practical Ideas for job searching & the Likeability Factor - Part 4 - Things you need to know