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CREATE THE BEST IMAGE AT YOUR JOB INTERVIEW - INTERVIEW TIPS
Attending a job interview can be a daunting task. Generally, we don’t like to talk about our positive characteristics and skills, “blowing our own trumpet” as it were. We also find it uncomfortable answering questions that we are unprepared for so, this, together with the anxiety of having to impress new people, we find job interviews unnerving and highly stressful. Most people also don’t realise that the interview is an opportunity for both the prospective employer and applicant to evaluate whether they are prepared to enter into an employment relationship together.
In this article we will discuss a few key aspects to job interviews:
About the employer and the job
Before an employer advertises a job, they have done their homework as to the job, the skills and knowledge of the person that can do the job as well as the type of personality that is likely to fit into their organisation.
Before you attend a job interview, you also need to do your homework. You should find out as much as possible about the organisation, what products and services they offer their customers, the history and other interesting facts about the business and its values. Most of this information about the company can be found on the internet.
Research about the company can be done by looking through the company website, visiting the company or contacting them telephonically to ask questions. If you know other people that work for the company this may provide more insight. Knowledge of the company will also provide you with information to formulate your questions for the interview.
You should also have a good understanding of the position, the skills and knowledge and personality that the company is looking for.
Finding out about the company also should allow you to answer the question “would I like to work for this company”, going through the interview process to turn a job down at the last minute, is a waste of time for both you and the company.
Here are some aspects of the company and job that you can research:
Sending your resume
Now that you have found out about the Company and the job, you are ready to prepare your resume. You resume creates the first impression about you to the company advertising the vacancy. It is your ultimate selling tool!
Include a short covering letter or e-mail which motivates your application and is specific to the job you are applying for.
Add a small, head and shoulders, professional, photograph into your resume.
Did you know: Prospective employers can find out all information about your past employment history when you give them permission to gather information on your background. Various sources hold all your employment, credit and qualification history which can be verified by potential employers. If you provide inaccurate or fictitious information and they discover this, you will not be considered for the job as it is viewed as dishonest.
A resume should provide a summary of your past experience (note I say summary and no more!). It is also useful to add a list of your skills or competencies.
So you have successfully secured an interview. You now need to prepare yourself for it. Some interviews are one-on-one and some are group or panel interviews, meaning that you may be interviewed by a number of people which can be intimidating. Here are a few tips on interviews.
Tip 1: Creating a good first impression
The way that you dress for an interview is extremely important. Whilst your resume creates the first impression of you, your presentation and professionalism creates the first visual impression. Dress for success! Wear an appropriate outfit for the interview. A suit or smart outfit will create a good impression.
Tip 2: Preparing your story
Your story is something that sets you apart from the other applicants. We all think that our story is boring or unimportant but your story defines who you are. Your story is about how your life has evolved, your dreams, your challenges and how you have learnt from and overcome these. Sharing this story with your interviewer provides a powerful technique that helps the interviewer understand what drives you. Put your story together and practice it and you will find it will stand you in good stead in years to come.
Here is how to prepare your story:
Your career path – how did you get to where you are? Who helped you? What choices did you make to get yourself to where you are today? Where are you at with your career goals? Have they changed or are they still the same? What projects have you been responsible for and how did this impact on you and your vision?
Here are some ideas to start your story on:
Tip 3: Your skills, knowledge and positive attributes
Any potential employer wants more insight into your skills and expertise as well as your personality and value system. Employers go to great lengths to make sure that the person is a correct ‘fit; into their organisation.
Skills and expertise (competencies)
This is about what you know and can do. Obviously an employer needs to know that you are able to do the job, they will determine this through your previous experience in positions held, your past education as well as other means such as previous employers. Assessing competencies (your skills and expertise) is easier than assessing the ‘fit’.
Personality and value system
‘Fit’ refers to whether you (and your personality) will fit into the organisation and the team. Are your values aligned to those of the company? Will you get on with the other team members and, if a manager, will your style of leadership fit that in the organisation.
Establishing ‘fit’ will be done by asking questions. Here are a couple of examples:
Tip 4: Questions
At an interview, prepare for questions by the interviewer. Any good interviewer will let you talk and ask questions to solicit information from you. The questions are posed to evaluate if you are the right person for the job, the right skills, knowledge and fit.
They will ask open questions, meaning that they will require an answer from you.
Don’t feel pressured by this, here are a few tips on questions:
You will also be given an opportunity to ask questions. Prepare questions that provide you with a good idea of the job and company that you are applying at. Here you can bring in your research for
example. I know that you company’s mission statement is XXX how does this translate into the business units? Remember you also need to determine if this is a Company that you would like to work for and fits your choice of job and Company to work for. Here are some examples of questions:
Tip 5: Checking the time and location of the interview
To ensure that you don’t arrive in a panic or arrive late for your interview you should confirm the date, time, location and venue of your interview. If you need to drive to take public transport to the venue, allow yourself enough time to get there. Being late for an interview (even with a valid excuse) will immediately create a an impression that you are not dependable.
Tip 6: What to take with you
Take a copy of your resume, references and any other appropriate documents that may be called for.
Tip 7: Arriving at the interview
When arriving at the interview, announce yourself and take a seat until the interviewer is ready for you. If offered a glass of water, accept one. Nervousness can make your mouth dry; sipping a glass of water in the interview will help.
Tip 8: The interview
Understanding the structure of an interview will help you understand how the interview will proceed.
One of the most important aspects to a successful interview is finding commonalities between yourself and the interviewer, the sooner you find how you are connected the less pressurised the interview will be. Here are a few tips to find commonalities:
Whilst finding commonalities is important, don’t bombard the interviewer with questions. Just make casual conversation. As you slip into conversation let the conversation take you to the various aspects of the interview.
Most interviewers will follow set steps:
Tip 9: Follow-up after the interview
If your interview had a positive outcome I recommend that you thank the interviewer. If you have been in e-mail contact with the interviewer, send a short e-mail thanking them for their time and that it was a pleasure meeting them (and the panel) saying that you are looking forward to the outcome of the interview. If the interview was arranged by a recruitment agency, contact the agency with feedback and ask them to thank the Interviewer on your behalf.
By: Tana Breytenbach
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