How To Prepare For A Job Interview
Many candidates believe, that once they get invited to a job interview, they are as good as in. I can speak from experience myself, and throughout the years, and numerous job interviews, I have become smarter and better trained as to what a job interview is all about, and how I can best prepare for it.
You are offering a service (your knowledge, experience, and time) and they are paying your for it.
What does this mean? It basically means that you need to sell yourself, you want to create that feeling that you are really his best option; you want to create the feeling that you will be making lots of money for the employer.
The first, important part of the job interview will be the non-verbal communication, and the impression you make:
Appearance: before the job interview, take a shower, groom, cut your finger nails, have your hair trimmed, and put on a fine business suit; even if the company culture is very informal and people are running around in jeans, it does not mean you can. You should always be dressed for business. If you are uncertain what to dress, you may want to go to a fashion store of your choice and have a consultation by experienced personnel. Should you never have dressed for business before, and you are uncomfortable with the clothing, or with for example wearing a tie, try training yourself to adapt; you may want to put on the suit a couple of times to get used to it.
Meeting the employer: When you first meet your potential future employer, walk straight and confident. A handshake should be initiated by the employer, and it should be firm, but not too strong. First impressions are extremely important, and when first meeting your potential employer, you want to create a self-confident, professional, and sympathetic first impression as good as you can. The potential employer will most brobably ask you some small questions, such as whether you found the address quickly; engage in some small-talk, be open. A good excersize is to let this situation go through your head over and over, practice it.
After the first impression comes the real interview. What your future employer is really trying to find out, is what you can contribute to the company, both now and in future. Each company has its own guidelines for its job interview, but many questions are reoccuring very often.
Please briefly describe what you did
You will get only one or two minutes to briefly describe your history. You do not want to hold a 20-minute presentation. Therefore, write down some points you want to tell your employer. Your education and related working experience is a must. Extracurricular activities are also important. Make a marketing statement, what characterizes you!
What are you good at?
This is THE opportunity to list the ups of your abilities. Don’t limit them, sell yourself. Are you good at languages? Say it. Are you ambitious? say it. Did you successfully complete a very complex project? Say it. Sometimes it is weird, that many people know their negative characteristics quite well, but not the positive ones.
What are you not good at?
No candidate would want to sell negative characteristics. Therefore, try picking some topics which can be interpreted either good and bad. Perfection is such a characteristic; striving for excellent results is a good characteristic, but being a perfectionist is too much.
Where do you see yourself within 3 / 5 / 10 years?
Think about this for a moment. How do you want to develop? Do you want to specialize, do you want to grow into management? Write down a compelling summary of where you see yourself in the future. Ofcourse, be careful not to give your future manager the impression that you want to overtake him.
Silences and unpleasant questions
Depending on the culture of the company, you might be confronted with unpleasant situations, for them to see how you cope with it. Frequently used are silences. This means, your counterpart will just remain scilent after you have finished answering a questions. The scilence might take even several minutes, and many applicants go crazy and start building on their last answer, just to break the scilence. This is a great mistake, because often you will end up saying things you do not even want to share. The best way to handle this is simply to be scilent too, and perhaps after half a minute ask your counterpart “do you have any more questions?”
Another strategy is asking very unpleasant, sometimes even intimate, questions. If you find a question too intimate, simply answer you choose not to answer that question. Your counterpart will have to settle with that. If he doesn’t, ask yourself whether this is the right employer.
Preparing for a job interview is quite tough, since each and every situation is different. However, some elements tend to reoccur each time again. Naturally, the future employer might send you to an assessment center, he might ask you very specialized questions, or have you present something. The most important thing during a job interview is to know what you can do, to know where your limits are, and how you would like to develop. Additionally, you need to sell yourself, be self-confident, and relax. If you are not experienced with job interviews, it is quite hard to do… but it will become easier over time.