It’s another day and you do your usual routine. Like any other time, your phone chimes and lights up, but as you sneak a peek at the notification on the screen, your heart stops for a second - it’s that dream company you’ve just recently applied for, and they’re inviting you for an interview with them! Great news, right? But elation slowly turns into anxiety as you realize that this is a make-or-break interview and you have no idea how to ace it.
Now before you panic and find ways to excuse yourself from taking that interview, pause for a second and let’s go through the interview process together. I promise you’ll find yourself being more ready to strive for that dream job right after!
Here you are, holding on to your phone just right after you’ve confirmed a schedule for that interview with your dream company. What now?
- Three words: Do your research!
First and foremost, you should research what the company does and how your role/job description fits in the company’s big scheme of things. As you do this, you can also start drafting at least 1-2 questions about the company that you could ask your interviewer by the end of the interview. If applicable, it would help to do some research on your interviewer(s) as well so that you’ll know how to best converse with them!
Researching the most common type of interview questions and actually practicing how to answer them is also key in acing any job interview. You may even ask a friend or family member to simulate an interview with you.
- Recall past experiences and review your resume.
Now that you are more aware of the common interview questions, it’s about time that you also look back at your experiences as you practice to see which ones you can use as a basis for interview answers. This could also mean reviewing your resume aside from just recalling memories. As you do this, take this time to also make sure that your resume is updated and tailored to fit the job opening description.
- Practice, practice, practice!
As mentioned, you can recruit a friend or a family member to help you practice but that doesn’t mean practicing on your own won’t help! What’s important is that you practice giving complete answers and that you practice out loud, don’t just rehearse in your head.
- Prepare everything you need the night before and be punctual.
“Sorry, I’m late” isn’t the best conversation starter, especially when it’s with your future employer. Remember, first impressions can last! So on the night before, make sure you prepare everything you need: outfit, interview requirements, documents, alarm, etc., and it’s best to plan your trip so that you can arrive 10-15 minutes early to the interview on the next day.
In any job interview, you can expect two types of questions: situational and hypothetical questions.
Situational or behavioral questions are designed to obtain information about your relevant past behavior and performance, which will tell the interviewer how you will perform on the job. For questions like these, always use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) in answering. As a practice, try to come up with your own bank of questions, assign your work experiences to them, and try answering these questions using the STAR method.
On the other hand, for hypothetical questions, there usually aren’t any right answers. What interviewers try to see here is how you demonstrate your thought process. For a start, look for a framework or format of answering that you are comfortable with following, and practice from there.
When preparing beforehand, it would also help to schedule your preparations based on the amount of time you have before the interview so that you won’t be stressed nor will you cram.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
It’s finally time to put all of those preparations to the test as you go through the interview itself! With as much confidence as you can muster, follow the next set of steps in order to successfully develop a connection with your interviewer during the interview:
- Don’t fake it! Just be yourself and put your best foot forward
Faking it won’t help you nor your interviewer and there’s a chance that they may see through it. Be transparent to let the interviewer see if your personality matches the work ethic of the company. Authenticity is key, but don’t forget to still be professional and respectful as you put your best foot forward!
- Listen to the interviewer
Be attentive to what your interviewer says - assume that everything you hear is important. Listening, together with observing and reading between the lines, is just as important as answering in any interview.
- Show interest by sharing what you know about the company
Time to flex all of that research work you did back then! This will show the interviewer that you’re aware of the company’s strengths and weaknesses and that you are willing to work in a way that’s aligned to their methods and values in order to make a significant contribution to their success.
- Don’t assume that all companies are alike
Every organization and every job is different. Just because you’ve probably done the job multiple times for multiple companies doesn’t mean that it will still be the same this time around. Show your interviewer that you are interested in growth and in new ways of doing things to further advance the mission and vision of the company.
In answering questions:
- Utilize the STAR method and always try to have your answers point back to your skills, experiences, resume, and ultimately, to what you can give to the company.
- Keep your answers focused on what the job requires.
- Provide context in your answers by being straightforward and concise.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications on questions and for more time to think about your answers.
- If asked about your previous occupation, don’t speak negatively about your previous employer (in fact, don’t speak negatively about anyone at all).
- Be as authentic and calm as possible!
You’ve been through the most crucial part of it, but you’re not quite done yet. As the interviewer asks if you have any questions, what then?
- Ask any questions you have prepared beforehand
Remember that list of questions you drafted while you were researching and practicing? Now’s the time to ask them! But make sure that the questions you will ask haven’t been answered yet during the interview, or else your interviewer might think you weren’t paying attention.
- Ask in a way that shows your interest in pursuing your career with the company
If it hasn’t been clearly stated prior to or during the interview, you can ask questions regarding working hours, work culture, and other aspects of the job. But be careful not to ask about vacation leaves as it gives the impression that you can’t wait to take a break even before you’ve started.
- Ask about the next steps
After all your inquiries have been answered and if it hasn’t been made clear during the interview, you should ask about the next steps in the recruitment process to be aware of what to expect and if necessary, you can prepare beforehand. This can also give your interviewer an impression that you are eager for the job.
- Send your interviewer a thank you letter
After the interview, send your interviewer a thank you letter via email, thanking them for their time. You’ll never know just what they are going through and how their day was before they took the time to interview you, so your gratitude would be appreciated! You can also ask for feedback regarding how you did in the interview and how you can improve. This can give the impression that you are diligent and strive for continuous improvement.
Now back to reality! Knowing these steps and tips, you’ll be able to grab that phone and book an appointment with your interviewer with confidence in no time. Let these twelve steps help you go further down the road towards your dream career. And remember, it's all about doing your research, developing a connection with your interviewer, and asking the right questions!