How to: nail a job interview
Does anyone like to be judged by some strangers? For most of us, this is a quite nerve-wracking experience – even when there’s no reason to care about others’ opinions! And how stressed you can get when you actually know that someone else’s short impression of you might completely determine your future?
Can you already see what I’m getting at? Right! A job interview is a challenging, but important moment in your life. And you don’t just have to survive it. In a short time, you need to convince the recruiter that you are in fact the most suitable candidate. If you can’t escape it, the only solution you have left is to master your interview techniques. We really hope that the article below will help you nail your next job interview!
Do your homework
To maximise your chances of passing the interview, you’ll need to start working long before the Big Day. Good preparation is the key to success. But first, let’s clarify something – if you are invited to an interview, the recruiter has already thought you could be a good fit for the job. Therefore, you can feel more confident! And you’re going to need it because your goal for the interview is to prove to the interviewers that you are ready to use that potential they’d seen in you. Feeling ready? So… where do we start?
1. General research
The first thing to start with is to explore what the company you are applying to does. While you probably already know the basics – do you have the whole picture of what they engage in? It may seem a little unnecessary at first. But it is always better to have too much information than to be caught by the recruiter at being uninformed. Your knowledge of the company’s background is an easy way to show in an interview that you care about getting the job. So what do you need to know?
• The history of the company’s foundation, its current goals, who is the current chief/the employer
• The company’s offer (range of its products/services and the prices)
• The company’s additional activity – check out all the company’s collaborations, charity work, participation in competitions and rankings, any other initiatives – focus in particular on the elements that could be related to the job position you’re applying for!
Make use of all sources of information you can get such as the company’s website, its social media, articles online, etc!
You can also play the role of a potential customer of the company and investigate the company’s marketing funnel(s). What’s that? It’s a path the customer has to go through in order to encounter, get interested and buy a product. This way you can get some practical comments on the company’s work and later show off suggestions for improvement (do it only if asked).
2. What do they need me for?
Once you have a broad understanding of what the company does, it’s time to identify what they need you for. Naturally, you know the job title and the scope of the tasks you are supposed to perform.
But what will you be doing in this job? Take a look at how the company has dealt with this issue so far. If you are applying for a job related to customer service, specify the approach to the customer the company wants to represent. A job as a data analyst? Define the areas of interest to them.
Overall, try to figure out what they specifically can expect from you if they hire you. Be prepared to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s solutions during the interview.
3. “I am the best”
It’s time for the topic that is probably the most obvious one to mention in relation to the question “how to prepare for an interview”. Apart from job details from the recruiter, the interview is primarily a dialogue where you are the one who answers the questions. What to expect and how to answer interview questions? How to behave during an interview? Let’s start with some general tips.
• The job advertisement usually lists the employer’s expectations of you: what skills and experience you are required to have. Read the job description carefully. Prepare to talk about your experience proving that you have the skills and abilities they listed.
• The employer will not appreciate the truisms and your advantages in the form of a long list. Focus on 2-4 of your qualities that will be useful for the position. Quality over quantity, right?
• During an interview, you need to support each of the statements about yourself with evidence. For example, don’t say: “I’m good at teamwork” but: “I know I can work well in a team because I have worked with [this] group in [this] situation. I had to overcome [this] and deal with [this], but eventually we succeeded.”
• Likewise, if you have any training or courses listed on your resume or cover letter, be prepared to ask questions. What did you learn from this course? Do you have any particular achievements with it?
• If you don’t have a lot of practical experience in a given field, do some research and familiarise yourself with the industry jargon.
• When a question gives you more freedom of expression – try not to get too far afield. Finish your answer adverting to some skills or traits you’ve got that are essential for the employer.
4. Standard questions
What are your financial expectations? What are your preferred working hours? Are you flexible? When can you start? These are some “typical” interview questions. Although you may think that “I will adjust” is a great answer, don’t put the responsibility to decide what YOU want on your potential employer. By not giving any specific information, you make things more complicated to your recruiter – he or she simply won’t know what to expect from you. Moreover, you may seem indecisive, dishonest or like you don’t care about getting the job. While your intentions are good, the answer “I don’t know” sounds really unprofessional. The information you provide should be precise. Set your expectations before the interview and don’t be afraid to talk about them. And never ever make things up about yourself! If you get hired, your employer will quickly verify your lies. After all, both you and your employer want to be satisfied with the cooperation.
If you have any other obligations, e.g. a second job – prepare your calendar. Don’t wait for your employer to ask for availability, and you’ll have to remember everything under pressure.
Don’t spend hours learning your perfect answers by heart, word by word. It is almost certain that some questions will surprise you anyway. A better thing to do is to look for typical interview questions analysis (you can find lots of them on the Internet). Understanding recruiters’ intentions – is the best way to prepare for an interview.
• You can also look for relations of people who had interviews for the same company before you (search “interview questions [name of the company]).
• During interviews, the recruiter will ask you if you have any questions. Do have them. From the beginning of the conversation, try to find some relevant topics that you can ask about. It will make you seem more involved in the company.
The big day:
Right before the interview, you will definitely get stressed. If you have favourite methods to de-stress – use them. If it’s too late to test different relaxation techniques, try just talking to someone and distract yourself from thinking about the interview.
And what to do during an interview if the stress is winning over you? If you are no longer able to do anything else, take a deep breath and be direct. If the question confuses you, say “that’s not an easy topic, I have to gather my thoughts because I don’t want to give a hasty answer” (then take your time to come up with a proper answer). Did you just talk nonsense? You might use “I know that I’m talking a little chaotic, it’s just because of the stress because I truly care about getting the job”.
Quality answers usually are more important than response time (unless you reach the extreme).
You may wonder how to dress for your interview. In this case, it is better to be overdressed than too informal. The best solution would be to check what is preferred in the company. If there is no formal dress code, go for smart-casual look.
If your interview is online make sure you will have a good internet connection, neutral background, good light, etc. These are the details that will show your employer whether you can take care of everything or if you are sloppy.
The same goes with the language – be official. If the recruiter gives you the green light to chill, you can do it. Also, do not forget how you want to be perceived by the employer. Aim to be seen as confident, energetic and excited to work. Moreover, always remember to be polite and respectful to everyone in the company, not only to the recruiter and not only when the recruiter is looking at you!
Now it’s time to relax and wait
Already after the interview? We are sure it went better than you think. You can breathe now – you deserve it after working so hard. But have you ever realised that interviews are in fact avoidable? Look at Revolancer! With us, you don’t have to go through a long recruitment process and you can still make good money and work with major companies. As a freelancer on Revolancer, all you have to do is post your job listings and then wait for some business to come to you.
What do you think? Maybe while waiting for the results of the interview, it is worth seeing how Revolancer works and trying your chances as a freelancer? It may turn out that you will fall in love with freelancing and you will never have to go back to those stressful interviews again!