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Job Hunting - How To Succeed at Interviews
The last in a series of articles on the job hunt and interview success and how to make sure you win the prize; in this case your dream job. Useful information to think about before an interview in these days of financial meltdown, mass layoffs and global recession.
In this article we examine how to maximise the chances of turning an interview into an acceptable job offer. If you want to begin at the beginning, then check out:
Before the Interview
So you've done well so far. You've been invited for an interview. First pat yourself on the back and then do some research. Find out as much as possible about the company, the post and who will interview you. Try to imagine the interview and anticipate the questions you are likely to be asked.
Look objectively at the job specification and your letter of application and your resume. Recognise the weaknesses in your application and have answers that will help to overcome them. Typical reservations from interviewers may include the belief that:
- Your technical knowledge isn’t current enough
- Your previous experience doesn’t meet the requirements of their post
- Your present position is too junior
- You change jobs too often (they may wonder how long you will stay with them)
Land The Job!
It can help to get a friend or colleague to do a mock interview with you beforehand. Common questions are:
- Why did you choose your present career?
- Why do you want to leave your current post?
- Why do you wish to work for this new company?
- What special qualities do you have which make you the right candidate for this job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you spend your spare time?
- What would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
Decide what you want in terms of job description, salary and terms and conditions before the interview. Also have some intelligent questions to ask up your sleeve. Make sure that your questions are relevant to the activities and business of the company.
If you don’t ask any questions it may appear that you aren’t really interested in the post but don't bring up the subject of salary. Generally it is better to leave that to the interviewer. Your questions might include:
- Why is the post available?
- What training and induction are offered?
- What are the Company plans for the future?
- Have they thought about the following ideas to improve the product or service offered?
Here you can show an understanding of their business or relevant technologies and also give them a taste of what you could do for the company should they employ you.
Practice your body language in front of a mirror. Make sure you appear interested, alert and enthusiastic. Practice smiling. Use your hands to express yourself. Sit upright. look comfortable. Don't slouch. Try to look confident.
Use Questions to Drive Home Your Strengths
In general, use your questions at the interview as an opportunity to get across your own points. For example, if you have strong opinions and experience in internet marketing or the use of web 2.0 technologies, then demonstrate your knowledge through the questions you ask and the discussion which follows.
Some statistics about the improvement in sales or margins as a result of your ideas should ram home your potential value. Your preparation should result in a list of key points or benefits you wish to get across at the interview. Memorise them.
Allow plenty of time for the journey. Being a little early shows commitment and also allows you time to wait in reception. Reception areas are a good barometer of a company’s culture. You can learn a lot by just observing and listening. Are the people passing through happy? Is the receptionist stressed? What sort of visitors do they have? Does the area you are sitting in make you feel you want to work here?
Here are some interview ‘Dos and Don’ts’:
- Do dress smartly.
- Try to be truthful.
- Avoid criticising past employers.
- Don’t interrupt and try to avoid interviewing the interviewer or being argumentative.
- Don’t be too familiar.
- Don’t ask about salary or terms and conditions but wait for the interviewer to raise the subject.
- Make sure your body language is positive.
When you meet the interviewer, give the appearance of being energetic. Smile and offer a firm handshake. Try to avoid yes/no answers but also try to avoid talking too much. As a rough guide, you might expect to be talking for about 70% of the interview.
Top 12 Interview Tips
After the Interview
Now you've got the final hurdle out of the way. Next find out when the result will be known. If an offer is made in writing then it is OK to clarify the details and if in doubt ask to visit again to finalise things. There is no reason why you shouldn’t negotiate further once an offer is made.
Don’t hand in your notice until you have everything in writing. Try to be honest with your present employer about the situation. Leave on good terms with everyone. You may need a job there in the future!
If you fail to get an offer, ask for feedback and find out why you didn’t get the job. Remember it may not be your fault. Perhaps you were considered too experienced and the interviewer felt threatened by your knowledge. Common reasons for rejection sited by employers include:
- Personal appearance (untidy clothing, hair etc.)
- Overbearing, conceited, agressive, know-it-all
- Inability to express oneself clearly
- Perceived lack of interest in the post
- Over emphasis on money - only salary seems to matter
- Evasive about previous past employment details
- Condemnation of past employers
- Ineffectual - lack of eye contact, limp handshake etc.
Remember that If you reached the interview stage then you must have got a lot right! If you keep getting interviews and learn from each one then sooner or later you will receive an acceptable offer. So happy job hunting! And remember Its only a matter of time before you land that new job.