The job opportunities are shrinking, and the competition is soaring. It is not good news if you are a newbie, recently lost your job or pondering to hop for growth.
Interviewees are always at the receiving end and you being one of them, can’t fathom what is going to be thrown to you at the time of the judgment hour. You mostly rely on your luck and the mood of the interviewers.
Things may not be under your control, but it doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for it. Here are the 19 essential tips to excel in a job interview.
1. Research the Industry and the Organization
When you apply for an interview, most of the time, you are aware of the industry and the company. But awareness is not all. You need to dig deep to understand the organization’s values and work culture.
Study their core competence, vision and their position in the industry. Your future will depend on their success. You need to know about them not as an obligation but as your necessity.
Try to know their recent successes and debacles. Also, check out profiles of the key position holders. In this day and age, it is easy to study their likes and dislikes by searching them on the social media platforms like Linkedin and Facebook. It will give you a distinct edge over other candidates.
2. Keep your Social media Accounts Clean
Don’t be surprised that they too are prowling on your profiles.
Make it a practice to keep your social media only social. Never post or comment on your professional life. Also, avoid liking or sharing posts that bad mouth your colleague, seniors or the employer.
Companies nowadays scan through your social profiles to understand your personality better. Be real and show your positive side in the social media accounts. Nobody likes negativity in a person they are going to hire.
It is also the best platform to showcase your other skills and strengths. The more loving and caring you are, the more are the chances to score your brownies.
3. Prepare Common Questions
Chalk down the commonly asked questions in any job interview. Also, jot down the questions that you anticipate are industry based.
Figure out the best answers. Browse the net to find the better responses to simple questions. Adapt them to your words to give them your personal touch.
The answers should look natural and not as you memorized from a script.
4. Illustrate your Selling Points
How are you going to be valuable to the company is what the interviewer shall be looking in you. To illustrate your selling points well, make a checklist of your strengths and weaknesses.
Your strengths will sell by itself. However, you need to protect you weaknesses. You should have an approach to present them in your favor.
Make your points congruent to the needs of the job and the values of the company. Only focus on elucidating them in detail for the interviewer to match it with their needs.
It is a potent form of indirect communication where you are putting forward the points the persons across the table are dying to hear.
Also, constrain from direct selling and never push your points down their throat. Make it crisp, fluid and straightforward in your answering.
5. Get the best out of ‘Tell me about yourself’
It is the most common question where the interviewee usually falters. You need to be smarter in handling such tricky yet straightforward question.
Most of the candidates begin with their family, hobbies and other non-interesting stuff which an interviewer may not want to know.
Treat it as a golden opportunity to seize the moment and guide the whole interview along with your path of preparation.
First, ask questions that which part of your story they are interested in as it is impossible to summarize your life in few minutes.
Lead your answers towards your selling points and slowly sow your seeds for the future questions they are going to ask.
We will elaborate on this in the following tip.
6. Lead the Interview
It is the most important tip of this blog. You should practice hard on how to plant seeds in your answers that can lead the interview in your path rather than the interviewers’ set of questions.
You can do this by putting some lines just before the end which raises curiosity. The interviewer will impulsively ask the question based on that curious point.
Now you are ready with your answers which you should deliver with a smile yet hiding your excitement. Earnestly answering may lead to suspicions of memorization. So, try to deliver more organically.
If you succeed, you will hijack the interview without the interviewer knowing about it. But, not dominating the conversation is critical. Do it a subtle manner.
Always plant a catch phrase in your answers that will lead to your anticipated question.
Some of the examples can be:
-I have a good understanding of this skill (a skill like Java programming ), and I have developed few programs that can ease this ( some problematic issue) process. (Eventually, the interviewer would want to know – what programs and how?)
-I noticed certain loopholes in the program that could have invited data theft. I ultimately helped my team in stopping them.
(Next question can be – What kind of loopholes?)
-I had to take some difficult decisions which I need not elaborate here.
(It is a negative catch where the interviewer would want to know what choices you made. He would want to come at you by asking – Why you don’t want to elaborate or please elaborate.)
7. Anticipate Doubts and Suspicions
When interviewers screen a lot of candidates, they usually have a sketch of their ideal candidate in mind.
So, you should work towards knowing what should be the concerns and suspicions they may have of not approving a candidate.
The interviewers usually screen out candidates fast based on these reservations. If you don’t demonstrate that behavior, your chances of scoring over others increase manifold.
Also, put yourself in their shoes and look at you. Ask what may be the concerns that they may not like in you or select you. Come up with a better answer or behavioral rectification to address those issues.
Before the interview, screen the candidates sitting outside. Stay positive and try to find that X- factor that you possess and the others don’t.
It can be anything from your attire to your credentials. So, keep your eyes and mind open.
8. Practice Hard
A good performance will only come with practice. You need to practice hard. Use a mirror initially and speak your answers aloud so that you can hear the words distinctly.
The more you practice, more effortless it will appear. All the great orators have not become great because of their talent but their persistence and practice.
Take the help of a close friend or a family member and do mock interviews. Allow the other person to ask questions organically and not on your pattern.
It is an excellent way to test whether you are successful in leading the interview.
9. Never be late:
The first impression is the last impression. Coming late for an interview shows your non- professional behavior.
It shows that you don’t respect your time, forget others. Moreover, interviewers usually conduct interviews on a schedule as they need to screen many candidates in a stipulated timeframe.
Hampering their process attracts irritation on their part, and it becomes difficult for you to break that impression. Promptness is always appreciated though it may not be rewarded immediately.
10. Positive Body Language
A positive approach is everything. But often positive body language is mistaken for an aggressive approach.
It is your first impression. Exude confidence and happiness. Be humble and forthcoming to the queries. You may not know how the last interview went. So exuding positivity in your appearance spreads the positivity in the room.
Positive body language will only come by keeping your mind positive. Positivity will wipe away your nervousness and negative thoughts. Keep your eyes and ears open.
Don’t show off. Just be comfortable with your positive approach. Keep yourself calm and don’t be shifty or fidgety. Try to avoid sitting cross-armed facing the interviewer and also don’t sprawl if you start feeling comfortable. You should always be on an alert mode and look straight into the eyes of the interviewer while listening or answering.
If there is more than one interviewer, you should share your gaze between them. Remember, they too want your attention.
11. Dress for the Occasion
In your research phase, you should always check with the company’s dress culture. If they conform to a uniform or they prefer formal clothes.
Many companies prefer casual dress code. Don’t go overboard on your dressing. A softer approach to their attire is advisable.
Make sure you don’t show very casual attitude or distasteful clothing to your interview attire.
12. Always Carry your Resume
Yes, this should be done without fail unless you want to commit professional hara-kiri.
Resumes are sometimes asked by the employers to submit. Always carry few copies with you. Many questions are proposed based on your resume. You should always bring them.
13. Play along with the Interviewer
We are always under the impression that the interview is a game and the interviewer is on the other side. He is the tormentor, and you have to defend yourself.
The irony sometimes is that the interviewer also thinks the same. He is your adversary, and his job is to blow you into pieces.
You can change the game in a snap. All you need to do is get on to his side. You can do that by speaking his language and then slowly putting your points. The best mantra is to agree with him and subtly disagree with him using the magic word ‘but.’
‘Because’ is the next word where you can reason with him, and he will understand your point better. He will want to have a person like you in his company where he feels he is respected.
14. Be Ready to be Stumped
Most of the time, interviews will never go according to your wishes. Your preparation is bound to fail. But the more prepared you are, the better you are at handling tricky situations.
The best approach is to be transparent about it. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and thank them for learning a new thing.
If you are stumped for other reasons, it is always to use this magic word called – Sorry.
Never lose your composure and posture when you are suddenly faced with a challenging situation. You will be able to handle these situations better if you keep yourself calm.
15. Be Assertive
There is a thin line between being assertive and being aggressive. If you are passionate about the thing, you should not be passive about it in your interview.
Express it assertively, and the interviewer will appreciate it. Avoid being aggressive and aloud about it.
An assertion is a virtue that shows that you are not a yes man and you are not shy about putting your views. It also shows that you can take responsibility. Also, don’t try to dominate the person while putting your point.
16. Don’t Give Up
If the going gets tough, you should not give up on it in the middle. Take it to the end so that it shows you are not a loser.
Try and present various possibilities to put your point across. Also, don’t defend a wrong argument to satisfy your ego. It will not take your cause forward. Not giving up means not regretting that you failed to present your view when you had the opportunity of doing it.
17. Ask Questions
If you do not ask questions, it shows that you are not interested in the job. Asking questions by presenting you as the candidate, in fact, makes the interviewer visualize you as their possible candidate, and he answers putting you in that post.
The vision stays in their head and favors your chances. Don’t ask questions for the sake of asking them. Ask questions which bother you. During your research, jot down the points you need to ask in the interview.
The questions should spring up based on your curiosity. While asking the question, always surprise the interviewer with some inside news that you found out in your research. Now it is your chance to stump them.
18. End the Interview on a Positive Note
Always at the end of the discussion, thank the interviewers and show your eagerness to work for them.
Never fail to put across your willingness to work with them. Also, assure how valuable you will be for the organization. It also helps in negotiating your salary.
19. Follow up later
Never miss out on thanking them for emails preferably within 24hours. If you were told a specific period, remind them through a follow-up email.
Many candidates hesitate to follow up, but employers appreciate candidates who do timely follow-ups. It may so happen that you may not be chosen this time, but when the next time comes, you will be contacted first.
Keep the faith in yourself and always keep a positive outlook. In no time you will have a breakthrough you have been striving for a long time. Wish you all the best.