Succeeding at job interviews
This article from Guardian Jobs provides advice from several career experts on how to do well in an interview:
Job interview tips: expert advice for graduates (jobs.guardian.co.uk)
Interviews have always been tricky for me. You’re going into a new place, while having to sustain a conversation with a person (or people) you’ve never met before. You don’t know what questions they’ll ask or how they’ll react to your answers. Some people thrive in these situations, but for me, it’s always a problem when there’s so much I can’t control.
But for all the things you can’t control, there are things that you can. Like your familiarity with the company you’re applying for. You have to convince interviewers not only that you want the job, but that you want the job in their organization. So you have to gain as much knowledge as possible about that organization and find reasons that you want to work there, as opposed to someplace else.
The second thing that’s controllable is your knowledge of yourself. If you send an employer your résumé and cover letter, you’ll have to elaborate on what you put in those documents during your interview. You might also have to elaborate on what’s not in those documents (for example, a lack of experience or a gap in your résumé). So be prepared to discuss, and even defend, your achievements and qualifications.
You can also control certain aspects of your appearance. How you appear during an interview says loads about you, even before you start the conversation. Being sharply dressed and well-groomed demonstrates that you care about the job because you’ve taken the time to make yourself look presentable; you also send the impression that you’re a confident professional and not a disorganized slob.
Confidence is huge in an interview — and not only in the way you dress. Body language, posture, speech, and even your handshake all need to project self-confidence. Would an employer have confidence in an applicant who’s not even confident in themselves?
Even with all these things down, you could go to an interview and still bomb it. It’s so easy to mess up when you’re speaking off the top of your head (like saying the wrong company or making an inappropriate comment). All you can do is apologize, clarify yourself, and go on with the interview. And if you fail, you’ll be more careful of what you say in future interviews.
Some more advice:
- Be direct. We hate it when politicians don’t answer the questions during a debate, so don’t go off-track during an interview.
- The more interviews you go on, the better you’ll get. I’ve even heard of people taking interviews for jobs that didn’t interest them, just to get more experience.
- Ask your interviewer questions. It demonstrates your interest in the position and the company you’re applying for.
- Always follow up with a thank-you note. This can make the difference between you getting the job or not the getting the job.