The Do’s& Don’ts Of Job Interviews
As nerve-wracking as the interview process is, you need to remember that your CV and cover letter clearly left a positive impression on the hiring company if they took the trouble to call you in. Instead of trying to force things, remain calm and relaxed and look upon the interview as your opportunity to seal the deal. In this article, we look at the classic do’s and don’ts of job interviews. While some of them may be new to you, most of them are basic common sense and should be easy to follow
- Research the Company: Fail to do this and even simple questions such as ‘why do you want to work here?’ will become difficult to answer. It is also necessary in order to ask intelligent and relevant questions at the end.
- Prepare Your Answers: Although you can never quite ‘guess’ the exact questions you will get, there are a selection of tried and trusted ones that are typically asked.
- Dress the Part: While you may get away with ‘business casual’ for interviews with companies in creative industries, corporations expect you to look a certain way. Both genders should look to wear clean, ironed suits if possible and it is important to be well groomed. Various studies show that recruiters make up their mind to hire you within 7 minutes so creating a positive first impression is crucial. Don’t forget your breath mints!
- Plan Your Route: Once you find out where the interview is being held, map out the route and determine how long it is likely to take.
- Bring Extra CVs: This shows that you’re prepared and there is always a slight chance the interviewer won’t have yours to hand.
- Arrive Early: Unfortunately, getting stuck in traffic is NOT an acceptable excuse for being late. Look to be at least 10 minutes early but 30 minutes is better as it gives you the chance to observe how the employees interact thus providing you with a look at the company culture.
- Be Polite: This doesn’t just refer to the interviewing team, you must also be polite to the receptionist and any staff members you meet. Greet them with a ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ and smile. Greet the interviewer with a ‘Hello Dr/Mr/Mrs/Ms’ and their surname. If you are not sure about the pronunciation, ask the receptionist.
- Provide a Firm Handshake: A strong handshake indicates confidence while a weak and clammy one does the opposite.
- Wait: It is good manners to wait for the interviewer to offer you a chair before you sit down. Ensure you sit up straight and look interested for the duration of the interview.
- Make Eye Contact: This is basic non-verbal communication and is essential to your chances of success.
- Show Enthusiasm: Act like you are genuinely excited at the prospect of working for the company without going overboard. Smiling and remaining confident and energetic throughout the interview will work wonders.
- Outline Your Achievements: You need to ‘sell’ yourself to the recruiter so speak about the things you have achieved in your career to date but make sure they are relevant to the job opening and the company’s industry in general. Also, be as specific as possible when talking about your skills and achievements; this includes using percentages and monetary amounts where necessary.
- Expand on Your Answers: A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ never suffices because it offers no real information. If you can’t outline why you are the right fit for the job, you have zero chance of being hired so dispense with the monosyllabic answers!
- Evaluate the Company: As much as it may seem you’re the only one under the microscope, remember that it works both ways. The company may want you on board but it might not be the right job or work environment. You are under no obligation to accept any job that’s offered.
- Offer Benefits: The company needs to know what you can do for it; it is less concerned about what it can do for you.
- Ask Questions: When asked if you have any questions for the interviewer, start going through your pre-prepared list as long as the answers have not already been offered. This shows the interviewer that you care enough about the job to spend time researching the company and industry.
- Stress Your Desire: If you decide the job is right for you, make that point very clear. Some experts believe you should ask for the job outright at the end of the interview. If nothing else, at least ask the interviewer about when the hiring decision gets made.
- Network: Ask the interviewing team for business cards. If they have none, ask for their names and take notes to ensure you get the right details.
- Say Thank You: We don’t just mean at the end of the interview. Write thank you letters to the interviewing team and send the following day. This shows them your appreciation and leaves a positive impression.
- Follow Up: This can be a phone call to the employer 7-10 days after the interview where you ask about the availability of the position.
- Smell: As well as showering before the interview, wear some deodorant or perfume but don’t overdo it and give off a powerful aroma!
- Bring People: You should always come to the interview alone. There is a danger that your companion(s) will distract you from the task at hand.
- Use Colourful Language: You might think you’re being funny or clever but the interviewer will just think you’re being crass.
- Slouch: There is no better way to say ‘I don’t care about this job’ than to slouch over on your seat.
- Freeze Up: While having a few nerves is perfectly normal, you can’t allow this nervousness to creep into the interview. If you find yourself dreading the big day, a switch in mental focus is required. Instead of thinking about the negatives, come up with a few mental queues to help you through the interview. For example, you may need to focus on your breathing or maintain eye contact. It is a good idea to practice as well.
- Be Aggressive or Cocky: It’s one thing walking into a room with a smile and an air of confidence but it’s quite another to act like you are doing the company a favour by turning up. While interviews are great for people who love to talk, they are also an exercise in listening. A huge error made in interviews is to suggest you have no weaknesses which is of course utter nonsense. You sound mature and confident if you display the ability to be objective when it comes to your weaknesses and your strengths.
- Be Soft Spoken: If you want to be taken seriously, your voice needs to be heard. Of course you need to avoid taking it too far; while a forceful voice commands respect, a megaphone voice is just irritating!
- Act Desperate: Even if you have been rejected 45 times in a row, you must never look like someone in dire need of a job.
- Negativity: Obviously, you need to talk yourself up and avoid saying you are ‘useless’ or ‘bad’ at anything. Even if you are asked about your weaknesses, you should acknowledge them before quickly outlining the steps you are taking to improve in these weak areas. This lack of negativity extends to mentions of past employers or colleagues.
- Pause For Too Long: While a slight pause is fine, there comes a point when it turns into an awkward silence which kills the positive mood of the interview.
- Leave Your Mobile Phone On: If you can’t be bothered to switch off your phone and devote your full attention to the interview, why should the company bother hiring you?
- Talk About Salary Unless Asked: It is not your place to bring up salary expectations; this sounds extremely presumptuous on your part. It is best if you can delay all talk about money until you receive an offer. If you begin asking about salary, vacation time and sick days it looks as if you are only interested in the money and perks and not the actual job itself.
- Tell Lies: You may be tempted to extend the duration of previous jobs to cover employment gaps or lie about your skills and achievements but don’t do it! In the vast majority of cases, these lies will be uncovered. Even if you manage to get away with it, your lack of skills and experience will only be exposed on the job which is downright humiliating.
- Show a Lack of Knowledge About the Company: In the Internet age, there is zero excuse for not knowing quite a lot about the hiring company and its industry. If you have no clue about what the company does, it marks you out as being lazy and disinterested.
- Be Afraid To Ask For Clarification: If you don’t understand a question; ask for it to be rephrased. Far from being embarrassed, it shows that you are conscientious and it is much better than misunderstanding a question and giving an unsuitable answer.
- Get Too Personal: This means no asking the interviewer personal questions. It is also best if you leave your personal baggage at the door; hiring companies don’t want to hear about your impending divorce!
- Act Like a Window Shopper: Companies want employers that are serious about working for the organisation over a long period of time. By acting as if you are using the interview as ‘practice’ for other jobs, you completely rule yourself out.
- Be a Stalker: While you should follow up around a week after the interview, don’t repeatedly contact the company or send them emails; this just makes you appear desperate.
Hopefully these tips will prove useful and prevent you from making a big mistake before, during or after your interview!
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