There it is: the job of a lifetime. Your CV and covering letter have attracted attention and you have been invited for a job interview. So, how do you approach it?
Firstly: prepare for your interview properly! Research the company thoroughly. Ideal sources are the annual report, the corporate website, newsletters and social media posts. Quality newspapers and magazines and information from trade organisations can also be perfect for input.
Also, investigate the sector in which the company operates. Try to understand what the challenges are, the opportunities, and the threats. You will learn something new and you will come across as genuinely interested.
Furthermore, good preparation ensures an efficient interview. With no time to waste, the recruiter will have enough time to ask his or her key questions and go into them in sufficient depth. And you will get a chance to get your message across and obtain additional information.
A good start is half the battle: first impressions at a job interview.
Your body language is a powerful tool. When you meet your recruiter, give him a firm, brief handshake. Try to make friendly conversation if you both have to walk a short distance. Make sure you are well presented and have a relaxed manner. Radiate energy, sit up straight, smile, and concentrate on keeping an open posture.
Start the interview in a lively manner, and keep it going in the same vein. Make regular eye contact with the recruiter. If there are several interviewers, make sure you make regular eye contact with each of them and build up a rapport.
And don’t forget: first impressions start the moment you drive into the company car park.
Self-awareness is the beginning of infinite wisdom.
You are your CV. Your CV will often dictate the structure of the job interview. So, keep it brief and punchy, with a very clear structure to your career and educational history. In the interview the recruiter will indicate which parts he is interested in. At that point, you can provide further information.
Say what you want to say in a concise manner. Give practical examples in facts and figures. Substantiate your assertions using the STAR technique: what was the Situation, what were my Tasks and my actual Activities (what you did) and finally what was the Result?
You should expect the following typical questions. Why are you interested in this job? What are your strengths? How would you perform the role? How will you make a difference, bearing in mind the challenges? Demonstrate what you have achieved in the past, and how that has brought added value to the company/project/student group.
Another tip: don’t use up all your speaking time. It is perfectly alright to leave periods of silence. This shows that you are taking the time to think before you answer. And there is a good chance that you will give a more well-considered answer.
Ask the right questions.
In a good job interview you will also be allowed to ask questions. Take this opportunity to make an impression on the recruiter by making your questions clever. Avoid the standard questions and go for an original approach. Focus on the needs of the company and what you can bring to the table.
Come across as enthusiastic, alert and positive. Talk in terms of opportunities rather than threats. Create a good atmosphere by showing interest in the other person’s view (even if you don’t agree with it). Finally, try to build a connection with the person or people sitting opposite you. Look at it in a positive light: they may be your future colleagues!
Bringing your job interview to a good close
You want your interview to end well. If you have any further questions, now is the time to ask them. Also ask about what happens next, if there is any doubt in your mind.
Leave the recruiter to decide when the interview is actually over. Then say a friendly goodbye.