As individuals, we all have at some point or the other given a job interview or will be giving one. Our entry into the professional world begins with an interaction with the people already in it and no matter how formal or informal this interaction may be, it has a significant impact on the way the interviewer or prospective employer views us. In today’s economy, a job is important, but difficult to secure. And the prospect of a job interview becomes stressful when you start preparing for it. However, there is of course no certified right way to go about it. You can of course choose to alleviate your stress by viewing it as something inevitable, and giving it your best shot. Here are some tips to help you through your big day:
Do Your Research
Your pre-interview prep is all about research. There are two things you need to take time out and research on – the first is the company you’re applying for a position at, and your employer such as the director or CEO of the company. Your knowledge about the company can be tested with a question such as “Tell us why you want to join us?” or “What do you think our company does?”. These are quick ways by which an interviewer/employer judges the level of interest you have shown in reading up about the company and how well you will possibly fit into the organization. The company’s work, mission, history and success stories are mostly accessible through their website, so spend some time browsing through it. Similarly, researching on your the people who will be interviewing you is also a good idea as it demonstrates an interest in the people who work for the organization as well. This people orientation is always well received, and a little knowledge about the interviewer’s role in the company and any achievements will always give you an edge.
The way you look goes a long way in establishing a first impression that will stay with your interviewer. When comes to a job interview, the mantra is to ‘dress the part’. You want to come across as someone who is smart, yet not over the top; who is conscious of how he/she looks and aims at looking tidy. For your interview, dress simple – opt for western formal wear that is comfortable and neat. Dressing well is all about professionalism, something any employer would value when employing someone. While opting for formal wear is always the safe bet, some working environments have a different working culture which is reflected in a more casual style of clothing, so do keep the working culture of the company in mind. Your overall appearance should be welcoming – don’t forget to wear the most powerful tool of communication: a smile.
Your mental and physical state before and during the interview should be calm. On the day of the interview, wake up early and have a good breakfast – going empty stomach is a bad idea especially because you want the energy and focus to ace the interview. Reach atleast 15 minutes early and try to keep nervousness at bay. You could choose to listen to some soothing music, close your eyes and meditate or mentally review the facts you have researched. The idea is to not get worked up. To ace an interview, it’s also important to maintain the equilibrium and not get nervous during the interview. When asked a question, think over it calmly and give the answer. Your interviewer will not mark you negatively for taking a moment or two to reply – ask questions and clarify before giving an answer if you’re unsure. When the interview ends, smile and deliver a word of thanks to the interviewer reiterating your interest in the company. Don’t forget to breathe at any point, your state of calmness depends on your ability to remain objective about the questions asked.
Carry Necessary Documents
Your resume is the most important document for your interview, so carry multiple copies of it. Apart from this, carry all other necessary documentation required by the interview such as certificates, recommendation letters, transcripts etc. You can always carry any other documents which you would like to show your interviewers, but make sure they are relevant to the job. It’s a good idea to do all this a few days in advance to avoid last minute rush – collect all documents and organize them into a folder. If you have any material to present on a laptop, make sure it’s clear of typos and errors. Whatever information you wish to present as a softcopy, have a backup hardcopy with you in case your laptop fails you at the last moment. Your readiness with all necessary documents will go on to show how responsible you are, and how thorough you are with your work.
Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is an essential part of your body language during the interview. Don’t be afraid to maintain eye contact with your interviewer while speaking, but don’t stare. Find a balance which makes you feel comfortable. The idea of having eye contact is that it brings out a sense of confidence in you, which gets communicated to the person sitting opposite to you as well. Eye contact needs to be accompanied by other elements as well such as having a light smile on throughout, using hand gestures while speaking, being mindful of your posture and feet. While sitting, always maintain a posture that is leaning in towards the interviewer instead of lying back – it conveys an interest in what they are saying. Don’t tap your feet or fingers – concentrate on keeping calm – state of mind gets reflected in your body language automatically.
Honesty is the best policy in all spheres of life, and more so when it comes to a job interview. Your interviewers are more intelligent than you think, so don’t try to fool anybody with lies. Not only will you get caught sooner than you expect, it will also leave an extremely bad impression on the employer. Whether it is your educational qualifications, work experience, or documents – be honest about everything. If your employer asks you something you aren’t aware of, say so. If there is something relevant to the job that you aren’t experienced with, or it is a skill you lack – admit to it. Your honesty will go down well the interviewer because it speaks volumes about your character. A skill set can always be worked upon and perfected over time, but the employer isn’t interested in character building when he’s trying to hire you. He/she will focus on the kind of person you are right now and make a decision. Honest people are valued in all fields, but be careful with the way you put things. In the very first meeting, you want to come across as truthful, but also tactful and diplomatic. Your responses to the interviewer should be based on fact, but they needn’t be too in-your-face honest as well. Balance is the key.
Make Your Answers Personal
When answering questions during your interview, always rely on personal accounts and stories to get your point across. A good way of letting the interviewer know about your work experience is to use examples from past work to substantiate your views. You can transform a response to even the most standard interview questions by using personal stories – it will help the interviewer in establishing a connection with you. Don’t make your personal accounts too long, get to the point and focus on the part that matters. It’s all about moving forward from the usual yes or no responses and actually informing the interviewer about your skills and talents. Using personal experience to answer about two to three questions in a interview is a good way to connect with your employer and add a little more life to the interview itself.
Once your interview finishes, you can always ask for business cards of the people who have interviewed you. It’s also a good idea to drop in a thank you email to them conveying your appreciation of their time. Follow up is essential to express your interest as well as determination to the employer.