A job interview is the best opportunity to market yourself to the potential employer — it is a self-presentation of your work experience, achievements and interests, and how you can contribute to the organisation.
Here are some strategies to help you prepare and give yourself that extra boost of confidence for the interview:
Research the employer
Make full use of various media to find out more about the organisation and even their competitors. Such information will help you to answer commonly asked questions such as “What do you know about our business?” and “Have you heard about us before?”
Review the job scope
It is easy to lose track of the jobs you have applied for, especially if you have applied for quite a number of positions. Keep a copy of every job advertisement that you applied for so that you can review the job responsibilities before going for the interview.
Carry your portfolio
There may be a lapse of a few months between the time you sent in your resumé and the interview, so there could be new information that you want the interviewer to know about.
Bring along a copy of your updated resumé and a portfolio of your work. This will help you demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job.
First impressions count
Arrive early — about 10 to 15 minutes before the appointed time — to calm your nerves and be ready for administrative work, such as filling in application forms.
Dress appropriately for the line of work you are applying. When it comes to dressing for interviews, always dress more formally than you normally would. If you are unsure of the dress code, ask the HR department.
Remember to acknowledge everyone from the receptionist to the interviewer. Smile, be polite and offer a firm handshake.
Communication comprises words (7 per cent), tone of voice (38 per cent) and body language (55 per cent). Your body language plays a large role in reflecting your attitude and interest in the job. Pay attention to your posture, gestures and facial expressions. Stay relaxed but always maintain eye contact when you talk to the interviewer. Do not cross your arms, tap your feet or fidget.
If you are facing a panel of interviewers, always look at and address the person who asked the question. Make eye contact when you answer but slowly pull back to acknowledge the presence of other interviewers.
It’s a two-way street
An interview is not only a chance for the employer to find out about you, but it is also an opportunity for you to find out more about the organisation. When ending an interview, a common question interviewers ask is: “Do you have any questions?”
Now is the time to ask questions such as: “Are there any additional duties I need to perform?”; “What are my key performance indicators during probation?” and “When can I expect a final recruitment decision?”
Your final pitch
You should begin and end the interview with a good impression. Regardless of how the interview went, you should smile and thank the interviewer for his time and for giving you the opportunity.
Send a short thank-you note — it creates a favourable impression that sets you apart from other job applicants. Tell the interviewer that you appreciate the time he has taken to meet with you and once again, express your interest in the position.
A week is a reasonable grace period before calling the company to ask about your application. Let them know of your continued interest in the position. However, be patient and do not bring out your “inner stalker” — the hiring process often takes longer than expected, so don’t hound anyone.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, no matter how many times you have gone for one. Proper preparation and plenty of practice will help increase your chances of succeeding. On a final note, project the attitude of “ask not what your employer can do for you, but what you can do for your employer”.