I know they’re scary, I know a lot depends on them and I know you can (and will) have at least one sleepless night over them. But really, there are only four things you’ll have to keep in mind before you go into and during your job interview.
This, of course, is a no-brainer. You have to come prepared; otherwise you’ll make a fool out of yourself while you can easily avoid that. Visit the website, find out about their products or services, know something about the business you’re applying for! Find out whom you’re going to interview with: maybe your boss, his assistant, a HR employee. It is always nice to know who will be asking you questions. And with LinkedIn and Facebook, you can easily find pictures of their faces, so you won’t be surprised.
Of course, you don’t have to know everything: it is perfectly acceptable to ask about their day-to-day system or about an organization chart. In fact, they’ll appreciate questions, as long as they don’t have to give you a commonly known answer. For example, don’t ask: ‘so, what exactly is it that you do?’ If you don’t know what they’re doing, why would you want to work there in the first place?
Also prepare for the questions they will ask you. There are lots of lists up on the Internet (are you familiar with Google?) with frequently asked questions during a job interview. You know they will ask you why you want to work for them. They’ll also want to know what you’ll bring to the table. Why should they hire you? What are your best qualities? What are your flaws? Prepare for the interview by answering all these questions for yourself. Think about what you want to tell them. And always stay positive: is the flaw you have something you can change or will change over time?
2. Be on time
This one could arguably be part of the Research chapter. Find out where you have to be and at what time you have to be there. If you have to use public transportation, leave on time: you’ll never know if the trains, bus, metros are delayed and if so, make sure you have a plan B that will still allow for you to be on time at your interview.
3. Look the part
Always dress up nicer than you think you should. The office can be more laid back or casual, but they see you’ve made an effort by dressing up. In this case you’d better be overdressed than underdressed. In a second interview you can always change up slightly after seeing what people are wearing in the office. Adjust, but not before you know you can.
4. Be honest
This is the most important one, by far. You have to keep in mind that the interview isn’t just for the employer to see if you’d fit in the team, it is also for you to see if you would LIKE to be part of the picture that they’re painting. It is a two-way conversation, which is something a lot of people tend to forget. They try so hard to meet the company’s expectations that they forget to think about what they would like to do. Be honest with what you want and what your goals are. If you want to grow in the company and become a manager, but they don’t offer that growth potential, then maybe this isn’t the company for you. Of course, don’t blurt it out: think about it, consider it and refine your dislikes or your doubts. Maybe you can work things out. Be honest with them, but also with yourself: do you really see yourself working there? Do you really want this job or is it just to practice your interview skills? If you’re honest, you don’t have to make up stories or experience. You don’t have to pretend to want this job. Because if you do, the reasons why will come naturally and if you don’t, then why are you there in the first place?
So that’s it! I myself found the last one very helpful. I did some job interviews where I was trying to be the perfect candidate for them, but was turning into a different person by doing so. I wasn’t honest and I think that was partly the reason I didn’t get the job: I was being someone else and didn’t consider my own wishes. And they’ll know that. They’ll see you’re having trouble explaining why you want to work for them, because you’re saying what they want you to say and not what you yourself want.
That’s maybe why it’s scary, and I’ll be the first one to admit that: you put yourself in a vulnerable position while you’re trying to stay true to yourself but also want to show yourself at your best. Do you notice that I barely speak of the employer in this blog? That’s because it’s all in YOUR head and this interview is also about YOU, not just about them.
Do you have an interview coming up soon? How do you prepare?