Written by Line Thamawat
First, let me congratulate you! You’ve written an application showing yourself in a good enough light that you’ve been invited to the interview. Maybe you feel that you’re perfect for the job, but translating that feeling into words on a job application isn’t necessarily the easiest of tasks. So you’ve already had your first success in the process, and I want you to hang on to that feeling as you prepare yourself for the job interview.
I know that you cannot plan your way out of everything, but planning and preparing will definitely not hurt you in a job interview situation, so here are my best interview tips for getting your dream job.
You know there will be a set of interview questions, and you’ll want to answer them in a detailed and coherent way. But you also have to master the informal, interpersonal aspects of the interview, interacting with your potential employer in a way that leaves the impression that you are trustworthy, interesting and likeable. Luckily, with proper preparation, you can master both aspects of the interview and create a positive, lasting impression.
The next time you land an interview for a promising job, do these things:
Anticipate the interview questions
Preparing for an interview begins with thinking about the questions that the interviewer is likely to ask as well as what responses will answer them most effectively. One of the most used questions is “What can you tell me about yourself?” It’s important to note here that your potential employer is less interested in your hobbies than in how your personal qualities and interest match with the job you’re interviewing for.
Example: “I am always in a good mood, and I try to create a positive environment for myself and those that I am around. I’m curious and I’m always learning something new or reading a book. I also like having a good overview of my tasks, so I will be organising and putting things into systems.”
I challenge you to think up five qualities about yourself that would make up a nice elevator pitch about who you are and what you’d bring to the company. See if you can align it with the job description and the values of the company you’re interviewing for.
Another common question is: “What are your strengths?” It’s tempting to just list all your amazing strengths, but if you prepare a list of strengths and concrete examples of what you’ve done that display these qualities, it’s much easier for the interviewer to imagine you bringing value to the company.
If they ask what your strengths are, it’s quite likely that they will follow up with: “What are your weaknesses?” You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to list weaknesses that are actually strengths. And it is a good idea. But your interviewer is anticipating you to do this, so it is a good idea to think a bit about this to come up with an answer that will impress your interviewer.
One of my biggest fears is being slower than other people and that other people know more than me. It ties into my curiosity and thirst for new knowledge, and it also means that I am good at absorbing new information and putting it to use. Another weakness of mine is that I don’t like wasting time, so I can get a bit irritated if there is a lot of small talk at a meeting, for example, or if I am beyond busy. I try, however; to be nice and patient (to a certain point) about it because I recognise that small talk and chitchat is a part of the social glue that bonds my co-workers and myself together.
We all have weaknesses and flaws, but the important thing is to think about them and how we can overcome or change them into a positive rather than strive for being perfect. How many people do you know, who are perfect?
It’s not all about you
Now let’s move on to your potential employers. What do you know about the company? Set some time aside to find out when and how it was founded, who the key players are, and how the company has risen to the success that it is now. THEN you connect the dots and show how your strengths work well with what the company need. Say a company that you’re hiring for has tremendous growth but too few hands, then it’s quite handy that you like organising things, processes, and putting them into systems – you could, for example, make an employee handbook of best practises. But overall show why you would be committed to this business.
It’s not not smart to look at your potential team members and especially the team leader. Do you have anything in common that you could mention? You both like to do Crossfit? Then you might want to mention that you’ve been doing Crossfit on and off since 2012, and that time you signed up for a Beach Challenge competition, even though you were nowhere fit enough to not come last, but then your team came in second to last and how that was a total success for you. I digress.
Show that you are interested in and a good fit for this job is to ask relevant questions. Example: “What’s the first task, I would be working on if we choose to work together?” It shows that you are eager to get started, but it also gives you a good feeling for what is the most immediate need for the company to address and it helps you understand what you can expect.
Expectation management is important in order to reach a successful outcome, and if you get the job, sit down with your manager and discuss in detail what are the most important things to get done here and now, and what are the nice to have things to get done when there is more time.
Look at what challenges the company faces or is likely to face in the future that can prevent growth. Then look at ways that you can help solve those challenges. This is a great way to show your interviewers that there is great value in hiring you.
Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the company you’re interviewing for, the better impression you will leave. Your interviewer will start to think: “we need this person” and thus the chance of getting your dream job is significantly increased.
Practise makes perfect
If you’re not used to going to interviews, or if this is your first interview, and you have time for it: Practise with a friend. Give your friend your list of anticipated questions, tell them to feel free to add any questions of their own, and get started on practising. This will make you more comfortable with the questions and can take the top of the pressure of the interview off because you’ve already been asked (most of) the questions when you finally get to the interview. This also works well for exams.
Bonus tip: Pay close attention to your body language, your facial expressions, your style of speech, and anything that you affect the way you come across to your interviewer.
May the odds be ever in your favour!