The job-hunting process can be long and drawn out. Many people battle their way through CV-writing and application forms, only to fall at the final hurdle. Interviews can be stressful – however, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting the job. Follow these dos and don’ts to find interview success.
An overly nervous candidate will stick in the interviewer’s mind for all the wrong reasons. If you’re physically shaking and struggling to talk at an interview, how will you cope with pitching ideas to a large team, or meeting with important clients? It’s natural to be a little jittery, but don’t let it ruin your chances of getting the job. If you’re nervous, pretend that you’re not. Take some deep breaths before you go in, smile, and offer a firm handshake. If you’re acting confident, you’ll start to feel confident too.
Do your research
It’s not unknown for interviewers to open with the question ‘tell me what you know about our company’. If you perform poorly on the first question, you’re going to feel stressed and uncomfortable for the whole interview. Research the company thoroughly – check out their website, read any recent news articles about them, and investigate their market and main competitors. If you know the names of your interviewers, you could even take a look at their profiles on LinkedIn.
Think of questions before you go in
The interviewer will always finish by asking if you have any questions for them. Saying no implies that you’re not interested in the company – and is a sure-fire way to stay unemployed. If you’re worried you won’t be able to remember them, write them down (in a notebook, not on a scrappy bit of paper). Good questions demonstrate either that you’ve researched the company, or are genuinely curious about the role you’ve applied for.
It’s important to be polite to everyone you encounter at your interview – from the receptionist to the people you stand next to in the lift. Your interviewer may ask their colleagues what they thought about you – they’re the ones who’ll be working with you, after all. If you’ve made a bad impression on someone, it could harm your chances of getting hired.
Write it down
It may be tempting to walk out of your interview and try to forget about it – particularly if you feel you performed badly. However, it’s important to write down all of the details you can remember, while it’s still fresh in your memory. If you get offered a second interview, you’ll struggle to remember what was discussed – and you don’t want to spend the interview repeating yourself.
Don’t be late
If your interview is in an unfamiliar area, try to do a run-through the day before. If this isn’t possible, give yourself plenty of room for error when setting off. Google maps might say the journey takes half an hour – but that’s without traffic jams and late trains. If there are no delays and you find yourself there early, find a nearby café to wait in. Aim to arrive at the office between ten and fifteen minutes before you’re due to be interviewed.
Most interviews are based around the information you provided on your CV. Interviewers will pick up on interesting details and grill you about them – if you’ve embellished your credentials, you’re going to find it very difficult to keep the lie going. Many people ignore this advice – but beware. If you get the job, you’ll have to maintain your lie the whole time you work for the company. If you’ve lied about having a particular skill, it will be evident as soon as you start the job – and your new employer could fire you.
Don’t complain about your last job
Your interviewer might ask you about your previous position – try to be positive, even if you had issues. It’s highly unprofessional to criticise your past employers, and it won’t sit well with your interviewers. Instead, be positive – if you had a conflict with a colleague, explain what you did to overcome it. Demonstrating that you can calmly handle problems in the workplace will impress your interviewers far more than complaining about them.
Don’t sell yourself short
Rather than telling your interviewer that you’re a team player, give them an example of when you’ve worked well as part of a team. Better still, give two – although be sure to keep your answers concise. Some interviewers will encourage you to do this, asking ‘tell me about a time when you…’ questions. However, others will be less forthcoming, meaning that you’ll need to do the work yourself.
Things often don’t go to plan, no matter how prepared you are. If something does go wrong (you’re late, you give a bad answer to a question, you trip up on your way into the room), there’s no point in panicking about it. It’s already happened and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Take a deep breath, smile, apologise if necessary – and keep going.
This article was written exclusively for Under30CEO by Mark Potter of Namecheap.com, a leading domain registrar and web host.
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