I can honestly say that I love going for interviews. I am proud to say that I set a record of my own for interview success during a particular period where for every 10 interviews I went for, nine employers would offer me the job.
As I reflect on this, I am convinced that my success rate was due to the preparation I made prior to the interview.
Someone once said: “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail” and “Planning is 51 per cent of the battle won”.
How you prepare for an interview can mean the difference between success and failure. These are the steps you need to take:
Research the organisation thoroughly;
Think about the likely questions the interviewer will ask;
Focus on what you can do for the employer;
Give examples to illustrate your assertions;
Talk in the first person, use the active voice (For example, “I cut wastage by 50 per cent” instead of “Wastage was cut by 50 per cent by me”.);
Listen carefully to the questions;
Quantify your achievements;
Be aware of your own weak spots;
Explain why you want to work for the organisation; and
Prepare six questions to ask.
Interviews can be stressful, so if you have a checklist, it will take stress away and let you know you are prepared.
Just a simple list to ensure you have made all the right steps prior to the interview will do. This should include the following points:
Dress to impress — pick the outfit;
Prepare your interview outfit the night before;
Think about who is interviewing you and dress accordingly;
Check clothes to ensure there are no stains or loose buttons;
Plan your trip so you arrive early for the interview;
Pack extra copies of your resumé;
Rehearse your key interview responses — answers and questions;
Visualise a successful interview in your mind;
Read the morning’s newspaper or watch the morning news; and
Pop in a breath mint a few minutes before your interview.
Getting a job is not easy. It starts with embracing and demonstrating the right attitude and then showcasing your potential capabilities in the interview.
At the interview
Your interviewer will note how you conduct yourself on these important issues, so take them seriously.
1. Arrive early
Time is of immense importance, especially in the corporate world. This is the right time to show the right attitude and never be late on the day of interview.
2. Check your appearance
Arriving for your interview early, you have loads of time to go to the washroom and check your appearance.
Make sure your make-up is applied neatly, your tie knotted properly, your teeth clean, breath fresh, and buttons and zippers where they should be.
Remember, it’s the little things that make the difference.
3. Know your facts
All the information that you have mentioned in your resumé should be at your fingertips. Be ready to ask the questions that your interviewer will expect from you.
4. Watch your body language
Your posture, eye contact, handshake, smile, where you place your hands and legs, the colour and style of your outfit — all these communicate an impression without you saying a single word.
Confidence or the lack of it is the first thing that your body language signals to other people.
5. Speak clearly and concisely
Time is important and no one wants to listen to long-winded expositions about your life, so give short, sharp answers to questions.
6. Don’t mention money
Do not focus on or ask about the salary. Unless and until you are asked about remuneration, do not talk about it.
7. Know the company
Gather information from the company or from friends who are already working there. There is no excuse for not knowing about the company, its services and products.
8. Ask questions
It is important to be ready for probable questions but it is just as important to have questions you can ask.
A popular one is: “Should I be hired, what positions can I aspire to in five years’ time?”
9. Communicate enthusiasm
Nobody wants to hire a wet blanket. Interviewers are looking for “live wires”, people who will bring an adrenalin rush to the organisation, team or department.
Make sure you bring your energy and enthusiasm to the interview.