An interview is a harrowing experience in any job-seeker’s life, but in this day of cost-cutting, it can be even more of an ordeal. Sweaty palms, nervous fidgeting and urgent prayers are all just part of the process.
However, interviews are not the inquisition they are made out to be, and if you play your cards right, chances are you’ll return with the job in your bag. Here are some tips that will help you gain that extra edge and bring you closer to cracking that interview.
Your interview process starts even before you go to meet your prospective employer. Start by preparing for the big day. Research the company/ organisation as well as you possibly can. Check their website, read whatever published literature you can find about the company, and if you know anyone who works there, talk to them. This will give you a better insight into the company and their work. It will also show initiative on your part.
If you are very nervous about the interview, ask a friend to go through a dry run with you. Practice a mock interview at home, ask for feedback and try to iron out all wrinkles in your responses before you go for the interview.
Carry all your documents
Always, always carry at least two or three copies of your resume, and all other documents that might be relevant to the job and/ or the interview. Arriving without relevant materials says that you are unprepared and not serious about the job.
Know your skill set
Are you great at developing processes but don’t know how to use the latest software? Are you good at design but hate conceptualizing? Know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so that you can play up your strengths at the interview table. A common interview question often is: “What are your three greatest strengths?” Try to come up with an answer that can be backed with examples, numbers or concrete results.
You will almost certainly be asked why you left your previous company. Be sure to give a professional reply and refrain from bad-mouthing your previous employer, no matter how bad the terms you left on were. Back-biting will only make you appear petulant and vengeful.
Watch your attitude
Don’t be cocky and overconfident, but don’t be subservient and passive either. The organisation is most likely looking for someone who is confident, eager to learn, and a good worker.
Communication skills aren’t a bonus in today’s job market, they are a pre-requisite. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake, make eye contact, and speak clearly and concisely. Don’t ramble but make sure you get your point across. This will demonstrate your level of confidence and clarity of thought.
It’s a two- way street
Remember, an interview is an interaction to determine how well you fit into the organisation’s needs as well as how the company fits into your career plan. Ask questions, be involved and make suggestions. Your prospective employer will be pleased that you showed interest and were willing to learn more.
Highlight other achievements
Sometimes, what takes you that extra mile need not be professional experience. It could be something you did on your own time that shows you in a better light to a prospective employer. For instance, if you have volunteer work on your resume, play it up. This shows a socially responsible bent of mind. If you are well-travelled, mention it. Not only does it say that you have had various kinds of exposure, it also implies you are adaptable to different cultures — this might be useful if the job requires you to travel.
Say thank you
The day after the interview, send out a crisp thank you e-mail. However, be careful you don’t make it a long saga, brevity is key when it comes to thank you notes.
With inputs from Sunder Ramachandran, HR trainer and consultant, WCH Solutions.