As a job seeker, you know you have less than 7seconds to impress an interviewer?
The question now is "how do you do that"
Brief answer: by preparing for the job interview.
We can probably all relate to how nerve-racking preparing for an interview can be.
It is clear that sometimes, it is not just a test of knowledge but also other aspects that we probably never thought about. The interview could have two outcomes; it is either you make a good impression on the employer or you don’t appeal to them.
This is why it is necessary to prepare beyond the scope of the job requirement. Being skilful, qualified and knowledgeable about the job role is not enough, adequate preparation needs to be made to sell yourself in the best way possible. The good news is that it is not as complicated as it seems, all you have to do is to follow the guide below.
What Is The Job Interview Process?
The job interview process is simply the processes or stages of hiring employees. All the processes that recruiters or hiring managers take applicants through in finding a suitable employee is what is called job interview process.
There are different stages that applicants typically pass through during the hiring process. Now, the processes are not set on stone; there are employees who got the job through recommendation and those who got the job based on their resume or those who got the job by being approached by the employer. So, it varies actually but in general, there are certain stages that you are likely to pass through.
- Screening Interview: This interview is usually done after the application. For some companies, the screening will be done by filtering the resumes or CVs. Technology has even made it easier to sieve through resumes using AI matching technology. The technology sieves out using matching keywords based on the job role. The implication of this is that you have to make sure to tailor your CVs and resume to fit each job role you are applying for and make sure to add keywords, which you can get from the vacancy details. For those who don’t use a resume or CV, you could be called to make sure you have the qualification required and then invited for an interview. Also, phone interview (voice or video) can be used to hire for a remote job.
- Skill Test Interview: This interview is further done by some organisations to determine if you actually have the skill. It is a written test interview that will probably assess critical and cognitive thinking. You can find samples of psychometric tests online that you can use to practice. For some companies, it might just be simple maths, verbal reasoning and current world affairs. So you could study the pattern of the company by asking questions and study accordingly.
- The First Interview: This interview is usually with the recruiter, HR manager or hiring manager. It is usually a one-on-one interview with them to ask questions to assess your personality, skills, qualification and also check your values. This is the time to sell yourself well and make yourself memorable. You can do this by practising interview questions and also read all you can about the company as well as the specific job role. Remember to ask questions (intelligent questions) and this will keep you in the mind of the interviewer.
- Second Interview: If you get to this stage, then you were recommended by the interviewer above. This interview is usually a formality because except in a few instances, the HR manager is trusted by the company and they will likely go with his/her recommendation. This interview will probably be with a panel that will consist of the management team and/or your direct boss to feel you out and see if you are someone they can actually work it. The interview, at this stage, is less to do with skill – even though that is still important – but more to do with your values and personality. You might also have to deal with negotiation at this stage – that is, if they do not have a standard salary for the role. Prepare for this stage by reading a lot about the company and your role, be confident and be yourself. Ask questions here as well and just try to have a conversation with them – following their lead.
- If you have made a good impression and seen to be qualified, you will be invited to get your application letter and be addressed on more details about the company and your role.
How to Prepare For a Big Job Interview
Anxiety usually follows having an interview. While it is normal to be full of nerves, it is possible to relatively rest easy if you have properly prepared for the interview. A wise saying says, “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.” So if you have a big interview, you just need to be ready by proper preparation.
- Research all you can about the company. Even if you are skilful and qualified for the role, you do not want to go for a job interview without knowing anything about the company; it will be interpreted as being unserious. The recruiter wants to know that you are interested in them as much as you want them to be interested in you; they don’t want to seem like another company that you randomly picked, they want to feel you actually took time out to apply because you really want to work with them. The only way you can show this is by being knowledgeable about the company and your job role as well. Researching the company will also help you prepare for the interview because you might find out what to look out for during your research.
- Read up all you can about the role. This is as important as the above because you want to give off the impression that you know what is expected of you if you are hired. Besides, you will need to know about the job role and responsibilities in order to sell yourself because that is the only way you will be able to find and list out your strength and skills in the required job responsibilities.
- Practice the interview with a family member or friend. Get interview questions and practice answering them. You could always do the practice alone by a mirror if you are alone but if not, practising with someone else is very effective. This is so you can have the answers to the likely interview questions that you will be asked and not necessarily have to start thinking of what to say in an already tensed environment. Your answers might change, of course, but having a direction is very important.
- Prepare to dress properly. We have probably all heard it said that “the way you are dressed is the way you will be addressed.” You cannot afford to go for an interview, dressed as though you are going for a party or hanging out with friends. Some companies are less rigid on dressing as a result of the industry. However, if you are not sure, the safe bet is to dress corporate. You can never go wrong with dressing corporately for an interview. You can decide to blend with the dress code when you get the job, but keep it smart, modest and simple for the interview.
- Prepare questions to ask. A lot of people usually associate intelligence with the ability to ask questions. So, it is important to go for an interview always ready to ask questions. Prepare your questions beforehand, however, you can change it based on how the interview goes. Don’t ask questions that they expect you to already know because it is there glaringly on their website; it just shows them you didn’t do your homework.
- Be confident. It can be difficult to summon the courage to go for an interview because of how scared you are of messing up. But remember, sometimes the difference between an applicant getting hired and the other getting rejected is confidence. Believe in yourself and your skill and you have a higher chance of getting them to believe in you.
- Breathe. This is easier said than done; do it anyway. Breathe, even if you do not get the job this time, you will get the next one; it really just takes one person to say yes.
How to Prepare For a Phone Interview
Phone interviews are increasingly becoming more common and many recruiters have admitted to using it to feel out the applicant. Recruiters use phone interviews to get an impression of your personality, especially as it relates to communication. Ordinarily, because the world has really gone digital, it might seem like a phone interview is going to be a breeze. But it can be actually trickier than actual in-person interview because a lot could be misunderstood when you cannot see someone physically to determine their tone. All hope is not lost; there are certain things one should do to prepare for a phone interview.
- Research the company, job responsibilities, and interviewer beforehand. You should have all the information you will need to have as though it were an in-person interview. Don’t underestimate the interview because it is via phone, it also determines whether you will be hired or not. So prepare as you would have for any interview. Read up any and everything you can find that would be helpful for the interview. Get interview questions, study their answers and use them as a guide to writing down your own answers as it fits you as a person. Remember that writing it down is just as a guide, you should not try to read it during the interview; you will most likely sound robotic. Remember to also write down questions you might ask.
- Practice the interview before the interview. Some interviewers, in recent times, call out of the blues to ask certain questions. But most times, you are given notice on when you will be called for a phone interview. So you have time to practice just as you would for an in-person interview. Get someone to serve as the interviewer or you could do both yourself.
- Prepare the setting. Luckily, you do not have to dress specially for this interview, however, if it is a video interview, you should dress properly like you would if it was an in-person interview and you should be seated – on a desk, preferably. Also, tidy up your background; you don’t want to feed the interviewer with your mess – even if that is your default setting. But even if it is not a video interview, don’t lie down to take the call or take it in your pyjamas. There is something about looking put together that gives you confidence and sounds in your voice that you are ready to work. So while you don’t need to dress excellently, do dress well for the call. But wherever you choose to make the call, make sure it is where you will be free from distractions, with good reception and definitely not a noisy place.
During the interview, listen first before you speak. Don’t be in a hurry to start talking. Let the interviewer set the pace of the interview. Also, make sure to stick to their title except they give you permission to call them by their first name. After the call, end it by thanking the interviewer and you can also send a thank you note later while subtly mentioning that you are looking forward to hearing back from them.
The Job Interview Preparation Checklist You Can't Live Without
This list can serve as a guide to help you check out everything necessary you need to have done for interview.
- Research the company or organisation.
- Research the job role and responsibilities.
- Research the interviewer(s) – if known.
- Study possible interview questions and prepare your answers.
- Study your resume, CV and cover letter.
- Remember achievements that would help in the interview.
- Prepare questions to ask.
- Have a mock interview to practice.
- Get your documents ready and set to go.
- Get your outfit ready.
- If the venue is someplace you are not familiar with, find out how to get there or go there before the main day.
- Set an alarm before the interview day to wake you up early.
- Get there early.
- Send a “thank you” not after the interview.
How to Prepare For Common Interview Questions
There are certain interview questions that you would most likely be asked because they are common questions and it is necessary to be familiar with these questions and how to answer them
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
This will likely be the first question and the interviewer uses it to establish the first impression of you. Many people will erroneously start giving personal details, but that is not what is required for this question. No, the interviewer does not want to know what position you are in the family or where you live. Some interviewers ask personal questions but unless you are specifically asked a personal question, this is not a time to give off your marital status. Talk briefly about your educational background and into your experiences and achievements that fit the job description. Try not to talk for too long or be boastful; stay confident but brief. you can check out how to answer the interview question "tell me about yourself" here?
This a good time to sell yourself, you have been given the room to, so make sure you do a good job with it because nobody will sell you better than yourself. Don’t give generic answers but answer specifically and even use facts and figures, like years of experience, achievements that show you have the skill to deliver results. Basically, show them what you can bring to the team, how you can deliver results and how you can work with the team.
- What are your weaknesses and strengths?
Answering the question of your weakness can be quite tricky because many applicants – as expected – stumble over this question. The issue is that nobody is perfect, so you cannot say you have no weakness and on the other hand, you shouldn’t shoot yourself on your feet, telling them a weakness that would ensure you don’t get the job. What you should do with this question is to think of a professional weakness you have that you are working on improving and mention what you are doing to improve yourself.
For strength, this is not a time to be boastful or dishonest. Don’t start listing strengths that you think the recruiter wants to hear. Stay honest with a few professional strengths that are related to the job and try to be as specific as possible.
- Why do you want to work for us?
This is a question to test if you actually know about the company, have done your homework and you are not just seeking to work anywhere. While it is true of many job applicants that they send a lot of random applications, a company wants to know that you deliberately picked them. In answer to this question, you can talk about the company’s values that align with yours or how working in the company aligns with your professional goals. Your answer will work better if you are specific. For instance, when you talk about the company values, mention them and you can only do that if you have done your homework before the interview.
- How did you hear about the job?
To answer this question, don’t just mention that you came across it on the internet and leave it at that. If you did, mention it but also state why you were interested in the vacancy when you came across it; it is another opportunity to talk about how much you want to walk with them. If you have a personal connection that told you about the vacancy, this is a good time to mention that.
- Why did you leave your former position?
This can be tricky but the recruiter just wants to be sure you are not a wrong employee or one with a high turnover rate, so keep it simple. If you were let go, don’t go into a long negative story of your former employer, just simply state that you were let go. If you were asked why and the reason is something that might hurt your chances, present it as a learning process and explain how much you have grown. If, however, you are the one leaving, then let your reply focus more on what you are looking forward to and less of all the negative reasons you left your former job.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
The interviewer wants to know that if you are ambitious and if the job aligns with your career goals. There are a few ways to go about answering this question. If the position has prospects that you can aspire to in five years, you can mention how you plan to work hard to grow in that career path. If you are not exactly sure of the prospects in the job, you can also say that you are not sure of the future but you know this opportunity will make the future clearer and you are excited to see the opportunities it will open in the future. Be sure to be realistic in your goals.
- Tell us about a conflict you faced at work and how you handled it.
The recruiter wants to know how you will react to conflict, so it is important to think of and prepare an example beforehand. Narrate the story – as briefly as possible – of the issue and how you handled it professionally and you can conclude by stating how it made you happy that you reached a resolution, consensus or compromise.
- What do you like to do after work?
An interviewer might ask this to see if you live a well-rounded life. This is not the time to pretend you don’t have a life outside work so you can come off as a workaholic. Keep your answers semi-professional though, Having drinks with friends, taking vacations/road trips, seeing a movie are better ideas compared to getting drunk every weekend or partying every might.
- What is your salary expectation?
The best way to address this question is to have researched the range of the salary usually paid for that position. Based on your years of experience, skills and qualifications, you can choose the range that suits. However, let the recruiter that you are open to negotiations.
- Do you have any question?
“No” is not an acceptable answer to this question; asking questions make you seem more interested in the job. You should have questions set that you will ask about the role or the general company’s culture. Don’t ask questions that the recruiter expects you to know already or that has been covered in the course of the interview.
How to Dress For a Job Interview
Your dressing is the first impression you make on the interviewer when they see you physically. The interview can head downhill just from how you look. No matter how fitting you are for the job, your dressing can distract the interviewer from hearing what you actually have to say. Basically, don’t underestimate the impact your dressing can make on the interview; you are addressed based on how you are dressed. Different companies have different requirements when it comes to dressing. For instance, what will be acceptable in a tech company will be different from what is obtainable in a bank.
- For a corporate setting, stick to suit for men and for women, skirt or trouser suit and corporate dress are good options.
- For a casual setting, men can wear jeans or linen pants with a skirt and blazers; women can wear jeans and blazers as well or jeans and a corporate shirt. Even though it is a casual setting, you also want to keep it semi-professional still.
- If you are in doubt what will be obtainable, dressing corporately is the safest bet.
- Wearing too many pieces of jewellery is usually discouraged when going for an interview because you should be going for a simple look. Simple earrings are okay, you can forfeit the necklace, dangling earrings and heavy bangles
- Keep the makeup as simple as possible. Forfeit lipstick and stick to a lip gloss, instead.
Job Interview Red Flags to Avoid
There are specific things employers look out for that immediately serve as red flags and will greatly hurt your chances of getting the job. It is important to familiarise yourself with these red flags so you can avoid them.
- Late arrival
- Lies and inconsistency
- Disrespect to staff
- Inappropriate dressing
- Inappropriate language
- Speaking negatively of past employers
- Asking for money before the interviewer mentions it
- Prideful, condescending and demanding
- Lack of confidence
- Lacking questions
- Lack of skills or the right qualifications
- Not keeping eye contact
For the employees, there are also red flags that scream that you should pause before considering taking the job.
- Late arrival without apology
- Bossy and condescending
- Not having enough information about the company
- Vague and not offering necessary information
- Unfair working conditions
- Inappropriate dressing
- Inappropriate language
- Lies and inconsistency
- Rude and unkind
What to Do After Job Interview
After the interview, it is not just done and dusted, you want to make sure the interviewer remembers you, and so there are certain things to do to keep yourself in the mind of the recruiter.
- Ask the interviewers at the end of the interview what the next step in the interview process will be and when you expect to hear back from them.
- Send a thank you but make sure to keep it really brief. Thank the interviewer for the interview, mentioning what you took from the interview. You can also include why you think you will be a good fit for the job and how you are looking forward to working with them.
- Do an assessment of the interview. Write down the questions you were asked and your answers to them. Read up more on the ones you didn’t answer properly for the future.
- Connect with the interviewer online, especially on LinkedIn.
- If you were asked for references, notify them so they can be better prepared to get a call about you.
When you fail to prepare, you have prepared to fail. That is why this job interview preparation guide is important. To help you not to fail your next job intervirw. What are the things you do when preparing for a job interview? Share in the comment