Going for a job interview is daunting for even the most experienced people – especially if it’s for a job you really want. Often, it’s the only chance you’ll get to show your interviewer that you’re a capable candidate.
The reality is, the job market is tough and whatever the position is that you’re applying for, it’s likely you’ll be up competing against several people who are to research as qualified as you are.
So how can you guarantee that you stand out in your next interview?
I know this sounds like an obvious point, but most people don’t spend enough time preparing for interviews and are then surprised when they find themselves struggling to answer questions at the crucial moment.
First off, you should try and ace the first thirty seconds of your interview in order to make a good impression and build some confidence. Smile, be friendly and professional and display positive, in control body language.
When you walk into the room you should know as much as possible about what the company does, how it is organized, its culture, current trends within the industry, and at least a little bit of information about who the interviewer is.
You should also consider what challenges you might face in that specific role, and how you would tackle them in order to demonstrate that you would be a good candidate.
Finally, try and think of at least two or three stories from previous roles that demonstrate your competency, show how you react to difficult situations and, most importantly, how you work to move past them
- Answer Honestly – But Positively
Many times, just changing the words and phrases we use can make all the difference. Of course, when coming to an interview plan on being there on time but if, through unforeseen circumstances, you come late, don’t make a big deal of it by apologizing. Many times, we use the word ‘sorry’ out of habit rather than necessity. Over-apologizing can cause others to doubt you or lose confidence in your abilities.
Instead of apologizing, just smile and thank the interviewer for their patience. As someone who has been on both sides of the interviewing table, I can tell you the candidates who use negative language or exude self-doubt and weakness are not employees I’d look to hire. I want an employee who knows their worth and who will believe in their capabilities because then they will excel in their work.
Similarly, “What is your biggest weakness?” is a common interview question. Remember, interviewers don’t really want to hear about all your weaknesses. They want to see how self-aware you are, and how much you will be able to learn and develop if they hire you. Don’t try to cater to what they want to hear and answer here by veiling a positive quality as a negative one.
For example: “I work too much. I just work and work. I never stop working’ seems like a good answer, but your interviewer will see right through it. Instead, choose something you’re actively working on getting better at – and make sure you have a strategy to overcome it.
For example, ‘Sometimes I struggle with attention to detail, so at the end of a task I allot myself a little extra time for proofreading and fixing small mistakes that I might have missed’ would be more appropriate.
One of my pet peeves is when I ask this question and the interviewee can’t think of a single weakness in their performance. While this question is putting you on the spot, it also shows the interviewer how quick you are under pressure and also how honest you are both with yourself and others.
While prospective employees want to see that you are confident and capable, they dislike arrogance. As an employer, I have seen that arrogant workers usually don’t perform well or are hard to work with because they feel like they have nothing to learn and aren’t open to receiving constructive criticism.
- Be Aware of Your Body Language
Most people are so focused on making sure they say the right thing that they completely neglect their body language.
However, our body language can say just as much about us as our words do – and perhaps even more.
Good body language is particularly important within the first 30 seconds of your interview. This is about how long it takes to make a first impression.
When you walk into the room, stand up straight. Have one arm free so you can shake the interviewer’s hand – make sure you’re not caught off guard or fumbling with your bag. Give a firm handshake, maintain eye contact, and smile.
Be mindful of your posture throughout your interview. If you have a nervous habit of fiddling with your cup or clicking your pen, put your hands on your lap or on the table in front of you, and make sure there is nothing that could potentially distract you before you start talking.
- Don’t Ask About Salary in Your Initial Interview
I get it, salary is important and there’s a lot of conflicting information about how to discuss salary in a job interview.
However, the first interview isn’t the place to do it, and this is true generally across the board. Most to research have multiple stages. There will be plenty of opportunity in the future to discuss and negotiate your salary.
But before you can do this, you need to prove your worth by convincing your interviewer that you’ll be a valuable asset to their company.
- Ask a Couple of Carefully Thought Out Questions
Asking questions at the end of your interview is still an opportunity to sell yourself.
It’s important not to panic and ask the first random question that pops into your head, especially if it’s something obvious that is in the job description, or that you should already know.
So instead of waiting for your interviewer to ask if you have any questions (because at any good company, they almost always will) and trying to come up with a question on the fly, take some time to research beforehand and think of some intelligent questions that you genuinely want to know the answer to.
Are You Ready to Put These Steps Into Action?
Job interviews can be tough. But that’s okay – they’re supposed to be.
With the right amount of preparation and practice, you can guarantee that you’ll put yourself in a good position for your next interview.
It might just be all you need to make yourself stand out and put yourself ahead of the other candidates.