What you need to know before your job interview
The ground rules
No one can deny that receiving the letter or call inviting you for a job interview produces excitement, but also stress. From worrying about your appearance to how to answer your questions and remember what did you write on your CV or application, the list of things to take into consideration might seem endless, so the first thing to do is to organise your thoughts and concerns about the meeting in itself. Here are some ground rules that you should apply to cover your basis and feel in control:
- Appearance: regardless of the vacancy you applied for, you are selling yourself and should dress accordingly. There is a huge misbelief about using suits or overdressing when in reality you must remember to be yourself. If you don't feel comfortable wearing business clothes, this will transpire in your body language and communicate a subtle and tangible message to your interviewer: "I am not comfortable, I don't fit in".
- Time keeping: whatever the time of your interview, make sure you are there at least ten minutes before. If you need to park your car, find a new bus route or become familiar with the area leave way ahead of time. If you are too early, don't announce it. Simply wait outside, buy a coffee or sit somewhere and use the spare time to prepare better.
- Facts and figures: every employer appreciates candidates who can remember the names of the people who contacted them about the job. Whoever greets you will be able to tell you whether they've contacted you before but if not, make a mental note of their names.
- Research and observation: if you have the chance to go ahead of time to the place where you want to work, you will feel more familiar and the interview will be less stressful. Researching the company, even on-line for just five minutes will give you the chance to prepare your own questions to show you care about the job and the company.
- Research and observation II: once you know you have landed an interview, take time to find out more about the company. Focus on: what the company stands for, the causes it supports, the corporate social responsibility statements and of course, the success or failure in its recent history.
- Research and observation III: if you have done your homework with the two bullet points above, you could probably predict some of the questions they might ask you. Political correctness dominates the arena of interviews and a good interviewer will be able to avoid the mine fields that could lead to misinterpretation or discrimination, however you need to be just as careful on providing clear and exact answers.
The mental workout
When you have been selected for an interview, the interviewer has read through your application, has picked points about your previous jobs, hobbies, education, skills, etc. You are going to be answering questions that are likely to be disguised as informal conversation or will be quite direct and scary. Either way, prepare mentally for the meeting and don't leave it until the last minute to think thoroughly about these points:
- Why have you applied for the job? if your only motivation is money, you might as well skip the interview altogether. You are going to be in this job a good portion of the time you are awake and when the salary is the only or most attractive aspect of the job you need to visualise yourself doing the job through a period of time of no less than one year to determine whether you would be satisfied and likely to actually feel that the effort is worth the money it pays. Remember that work dissatisfaction is like a silent killer and regardless of the salary there are dearer consequences to your health and your work-life balance.
- What do you expect to achieve in the job? did you read the point above? if you know that the job actually sounds interesting, think about where do you see yourself in the company in three years' time. It is amusing the amount of people who is unable to answer this question even though they are strongly motivated and enthusiastic about their interview and future working prospects.
- How do your talents, skills, education, previous experiences can help the company? You sent a CV or applied for a job and you have been pre-selected because whoever choose you, thinks you might be a match. You will need to answer this question to yourself before you can sell your great assets to your interviewer.