Congratulations! You’ve spent hours fine-tuning your resume and you’ve managed to land an interview! However, now you need to deal with the actual interview process. One of the most valuable job interview tips? Be prepared. Whether you are looking for a job in the education, creative, medical, retail, IT or hospitality sectors (to name just a few), interviews typically follow a basic process.
However, the nuances of an interview can differ depending on the industry, the organisation and what the company is looking for in an employee. Here are 15 valuable job interview tips that will ensure you are primed, prepared and ready to face the interview head on!
1. Research the company and the industry
Interviewers will often probe to discover how much you know about the organisation. In other words, if you’ve done your research! So before your interview, find out as much as you can about the company, its competitors and your role in the business. Keep your research specific to the industry so your answers are as relevant as possible.
2. Clarify the reasons you want the job
One of the most valuable job interview tips is to prepare to go into every interview with your top “selling points” in mind that will outline what makes you the best candidate for the position. You should also be prepared to tell the interviewer job-specific details, including what abilities it requires that you possess, what interests you about it, and what rewards it offers that you find valuable.
3. Anticipate the interviewer’s reservations
Multiple candidates are often interviewed for the one position, so interviewers will screen interviewees to pinpoint those that will be most suited to the job. One valuable tip is to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes and ask yourself why they may not want to hire you. Anticipating their reservations will allow you to be prepared with a defence.
4. Prepare for common interview questions
There are ton of interview questions that you might be asked and also a ton of websites that will provide their own recommendations on questions you should be prepared to answer. (Here is Seek’s take on the matter – Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them). But with so much advice on offer, how do you prepare? Think about your age, work status, the job you’re after, and the organisation you’re hoping to work for. Then it’s just a matter of narrowing the list down!
5. Prepare questions for the interviewer
Another one of our job interview tips is to prepare a list of questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge of the organisation as well as your serious intent. Interviewers almost always ask if you have any questions. If you don’t have any, they might assume you’re not really interested in the role. One good all-purpose questions is, “If you could design the ideal candidate for this position, what would he or she be like?”
6. Practice, then practice again
You may be all over your preparation in terms of having answers to possible interviewer questions. But will you answer them in a confident and convincing way? A great tip is to practice with a couple of friends. Practice interviewing each other in a “round robin” process where one person acts as the the observer and the interviewee gets feedback from both the interviewer and the observer. Do this a few times, switching roles as you go.
7. Have good presentation and body language
One of the most important job interview tips is to make sure you have good hygiene, are presented well and display positive body language. You should be aware of the company culture and dress code. When in doubt (and depending on the job), men should wear a suit and women their best professional attire. Even if it’s a more casual environment, a good rule of thumb is to dress up a notch. Better to be safe than sorry! You should also have good posture, make eye contact and speak clearly.
8. Make the most of the “Tell me about yourself” question
Many interviewers begin interviews with this question, and the response shouldn’t necessarily be about your family, your fur baby or your favourite Netflix series (unless they ask you specifically of course!) The best way to respond is to list things you think they will find important and relevant for the role, and then mention that you are happy to expand upon them if required.
9. Aim for success in the first five minutes
Some studies have shown that interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes of the interview! The rest of the time, they look for reasons to confirm their decision. So what can you do to set yourself up for success in those five minutes? Enter the interview with enthusiasm and energy and thank the interviewer for their time. Then start with a positive comment about the company and express how excited you are to be possibly joining it.
10. Make your selling points clear
Even if you do communicate your selling points during an interview, does the interviewer truly understand what they are? To ensure they do, don’t bury your selling points in long-winded comments. Be precise with them and then give examples. It’s also important you don’t dwell on past negative experiences during an interview. Even if asked specifically about them, round out your response with a positive by admitting that although a certain job or experience was tough, you embraced the challenge … and you’re now after a new one!
11. Be on the same side as the interviewer
Some interviewers view job interviews as adversarial — candidates are hoping for an offer and the interviewer is trying to hold back on giving one! It’s your job as an interviewee to transform this “tug of war” into a relationship where you’re both on the same side. It could be as simple as expressing that you are happy to have the chance to learn more about the company, and the interviewer learn more about you.
12. Be assertive but not overbearing
Usually assertive candidates sometimes become overly passive during job interviews, often in the effort to be polite. However, politeness doesn’t equate to passivity. An interview should be just like any other conversation — a process in which you and the interviewer both input and respond to each other. Ultimately though, it is your responsibility to make sure you walk away with the interviewer knowing as much as they can about your key selling points.
13. Be ready to handle inappropriate questions
In a perfect world, no interviewer will ask illegal or inappropriate questions, however it can happen. Questions about your age, race, religion, gender and marital status are often taboo. One of the important job interview tips is to be prepared. With your response, it can be as simple as saying something like, “I’m not sure how that’s relevant to my application” or “I’ve not decided about whether children will be part of my future, but I can assure you, that at this stage, I’m committed to my career”.
14. Close on a positive note
If you get to the end of the interview and decide you really want the job, make it clear. Tell the interviewer you are really interested in the role and would be excited about working for the company. You could say something like, “I know my strongest abilities are (insert them here) and I see these as being the abilities you most need for this position”. If you follow this tip, you’ll not only be explaining why you think the job is a good match, but subtlety saying you’ll accept it!
15. Follow up with a thank you
To write a good thank you email, spend time after the interview jotting down a few things you and the interviewer discussed. Customise the email by referring specifically to some of the conversation points. For example, “I was particularly excited about what you said about …”. Also write down what you could have done better in the interview and make adjustments before you head off to the next one!