What to do When You Get to the Interview
This article provides career tips on how to present yourself before, during and after the interview:
Career Tip No. 1: Before the Interview --- Preparation:
Before the interview, it is important to know yourself, as well as the position you are applying for. Much of this work may have already been done when you were preparing your application. (See: Getting That First Job or Returning to Work). So, all that needs to be done now, is to review your capabilities and select at least three examples of each to talk about at the interview. Moreover, it is a good idea to review the position you are applying for, along with any thoughts and reflections you may have on its current situation.
Career Tip No. 2: Before the Interview --- Rehearse the Interview:
It is often useful to rehearse the interview with a trusted friend, colleague or myself - a career counsellor. Rehearsing the interview will enable you to rehearse your answers to typical interview questions. You will receive feedback on your responses, which in turn, will provide guidance on what to say or do on the big day. Here are some typical interview questions and how you might answer them:
- What do you know about us (the company)? This question gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what you know about the company, including its mission, current strategy and product range. You may also like to introduce the problems and opportunities you believe the company to be facing.
- What do you know about the job? This question gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the job itself. Feel free to draw upon material that you have gleaned from the job description as well as conversations with the current/previous job encumbent.
- What can you bring to the position? Similar questions include: What do you have to offer this position? Or: Tell me about yourself. This type of question gives you the opportunity to showcase something about yourself. You can marry your understanding of the position with your self-knowledge to highlight what you have to offer the position. It is also an opportunity to give examples demonstrating you have the capacity to do the things you say you can. If you haven't already done so, you may like to discuss how you can help the company overcome their problems and tap into their opportunities.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? Interviewers might also say: Tell me about your three greatest strengths. Or: Tell me about your three greatest weaknesses. Irrespective of how the question is worded, it is another opportunity to highlight your capabilities, especially the ones that will be most useful to the advertised position. It is also intended to show prospective employers the degree of insight you have about yourself. When talking about strengths, be sure to pick something that would be valued by the company and relevant to the position. When talking about weaknesses, pick something 'real' and that you are prepared to disclose about yourself. And, after introducing them, be sure to discuss steps undertaken to overcome them.
- Given scenario X, what would you do? Interviewers might also say: Tell me about a time when you had to ...This type of question seeks to identify how you might act under certain circumstances. Interviewers are not looking for the 'perfect' answer. However, they are seeking evidence of reasonableness, commonsense and reflection within your reply.
- What salary are you expecting? Interviewers might similarly ask: What salary are you on? This question can be used to weed out unsuspecting candidates. It is therefore best deflected until towards the end of the interview. When you do give an answer in this area, be sure to offer a range rather than a specific figure. The range should reflect the kind of salary you would be happy with and should reflect a reasonable rate for this kind of position. You can determine what is reasonable, by ringing 'Wageline', or by speaking to others within the field. Professional bodies might also provide charts of salary bands based on length of tenure, or years of experience.
- Any questions? This question can seem the most difficult to answer. However, if you have done your homework, you will find something interesting about the company that is worth exploring. It may be that you would like to pursue discussion on the company's problems and opportunities. You can also use the time to find out about typical career paths within the company, as well as seek clarification on any aspect of the job that remains unclear. After your questions have all been answered, you can thank the interviewers for their openness and let them know (if you are still interested) of your continued interest in the position.
Career Tip No. 3: At the Interview:
The interview starts when you walk onto the company's premises and it ends when they have shown you out the front door. For this reason, it is worth your while to ensure you arrive five minutes early. That way, you can check your attire and take a deep breathe, before walking onto the company's premises. You will walk onto the premises feeling calm and confident. You will also find that many of those rehearsed questions will be asked at the interview (in one form or another). So, you can relax and showcase your capabilities. If there are any questions you hadn't prepared for, you can give yourself the time to consider your response before replying. And for the rest, feel free to let your enthusiasm for the role shine through.
Career Tip No. 4: After the Interview:
After the interview, you can follow up on anything promised. You may want to re-assess your degree of interest in the position. You can then send a letter or email, thanking the interviewers for the interview. If still interested, let them know of your continued interest. If not, you could politely let them know that this is the case. Doing so, will enable you to maintain good relations with the interviewers should you cross paths in the future.
Whilst you may not get the first job you interview for, you may find that you ultimately receive several job offers at once. When that day arrives, you will be in a position to make an informed choice. So until then, keep researching, keep smiling, and happy hunting.
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