Continuing onward from the previous article on “How to get a job while at school“, let’s talk about what happens after you actually hear back from your potential employer – the interview. The interview can be the make or break aspect of your entire application and it is one of those components that you can use to set yourself apart from the rest of the competition. As such, it is crucial to ensure that you are well prepared for what is to come. Here are my top tips that are sure to help you succeed.
I shall put this simply – if you know nothing about the position or company you applied for, you will not get the job. Before showing up for your interview you must do your fair share of research on the employer and the job title. This does not mean memorizing the list of names on the board of directors or the company’s history. You should put in time to understand what the employer does, the requirements of the job and how your skills can be integrated into the role you applied for. Research is the foundation for every interview so make sure you know what you will be dealing with.
2. Polish your speaking skills
An interview is a face to face interaction where two parties communicate through speech. Therefore it is very important to be able to express yourself concisely. When you introduce yourself or respond to a question, you must be mindful of what you say. Stammering and beating about the bush will not send a positive impression and in general, they will demonstrate a lack of confidence. On the flip side if you say something with a lot of confidence but it is completely out of context you will only make a fool of yourself. The best way to get some practice would be to run through mock interviews with another person. Simply head over to Google and search for common interview questions for the job you applied for. In this way you can work on your speaking skills while at the same time you can get used to some common questions.
3. Dress to Impress
You will be surprised by the subconscious messages sent by how you dress. Your appearance is a key factor that interviewers often involuntarily take note of. The main idea here is to dress according to the organization and its culture. Going for a business casual look will be your safest bet. Opt for a tidy haircut and trim your facial hair or just go for a clean shave if those apply to you. Stay away from decorating yourself with too many accessories as you do not want to distract your interviewer.
4. Be Punctual
The biggest rookie mistake you can make is arriving late to your interview. Double check the details of your interview and set reminders and alarms to ensure you know when your interview is. Check the location of the interview and plan out how you will reach the venue. Take into account the time and make sure you adjust your plans according to traffic trends. You do not want to rush at the last moment and show up at your interview panicking.
4. Be Smart But Not Too Smart
This is easier said than done. Throughout the interview you must be attentive. Listen carefully to what your interviewer is saying and think before you blurt out an answer to a question. You need to show your interviewer that you have the patience to take in information, process it and come up with a meaningful response. It is best to avoid being too cheeky. Show the interviewer your wits through your critical thinking abilities, not by boasting and being oversmart. When the interviewer is done with questions, ask a few of your own if allowed the chance. This is where you can make use of the research we talked about earlier. Genuine interest and knowledge about a company will show through clearly in these questions. Google a few generic ones but make sure you are not asking something that has already been answered. Another good point to remember would be to stay away from asking the interviewer any personal questions.
5. Retain Composure
You will be interviewed, not interrogated so keep calm. Your heart may start to race sometime during the interview but do not fret. Avoid obvious signs of anxiety such as fidgeting or tapping your feet and make sure you keep your posture relaxed. You do not want to slack in your chair. Sit up with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Do not let your posture give away that you are nervous. Lastly, DO NOT cross your hands across your chest. Nothing says you are unwilling to communicate more than crossed hands.
7. Sell Yourself
The whole point of the interview is to market yourself. This is your opportunity to show the interviewer who you are. On resumes we always talk about achievements, skills and qualifications and the interview is where you demonstrate what you have learned from all that experience. Talk about how your experiences have allowed you to grow and become smarter. A good practice would be to connect your skills to the demands of the job. Do keep in mind that you have to do this all subtly. You will hurt your chances of securing the job if you come out as obnoxious and full of yourself.
8. Be Courteous
You will never land the job if you are rude regardless of how skilled you are. So as a rule of thumb be polite. The obvious things would be to say “Thank You” when offered a seat and before leaving but another good practice is to send a short message to your interviewer after the interview. The tone should be formal and the message should contain a note of thanks only. Do not try to butter up the interviewer or mention any additional qualities of yours that you forgot to mention. This message should be an acknowledgement of your interaction and would thus conclude the interview process on a positive tone.
9. Do Not Give Up
The likelihood of acing every single job interview is low. If you are going through a slump because of rejections try to keep your spirits up. Often times excellent candidates get rejected due to stiff competition and sometimes companies look for people with varying personalities to create a diverse team. If you let yourself get bogged down with rejections you put your future interviews at risk. The goal is to not let the negative outcome of one interview affect the upcoming ones. Keep trying and you will secure a few offers in no time.