Step 1: Always research the company prior to job interviews
With access to the internet so readily available and most businesses, organisations and companies no matter what their size having websites it is believed by most hiring managers that a candidate should research the company prior to a job interview.
During job interviews and the selection process the hiring manager may ask you if you have visited their website, however they may choose to have a selection of questions based on the information you can gain from their website to assess what research you have undertaken.
With this in mind, you should always research the company website prior to a job interview. For many, company websites it is a sales tool showing the products and services they can provide to their customers but in addition to this you may also be able to find out who owns the company, how long they have been established, what is their mission statement, who the key managers are, what markets they aim at and achievements they have made.
This is the type of information you should arm yourself with for winning job interviews.
Step 2: Preparation is of paramount importance
In addition to researching the company prior to your job interview there are many other areas of preparation that can be done. Good preparation helps your confidence, reduces nerves and helps you standout.
Decide on what you are going to wear for the job interview and make sure it is appropriate and ready to wear. Decide on the route to where the job interview is being held and ensure you allow enough time to arrive ten or fifteen minutes early, not too early. If you are using public transport check times, and plan in advance you most certainly do not want to be late.
Take copies of your CV so you can take a couple extra with you, there may be other people in the interview that do not have copies. If you have qualifications, reports, references or a project that you feel may enhance your chances of winning the job interview take copies with you also to hand out. This gives the hiring manager confidence in your planning and preparation skills as well as leaving them something to discuss further after the interview.
Prepare questions you wish to ask the prospective employer, never come away from an interview without asking at least a couple of questions. You may wish to know when the expected start date is, how many people are they seeing, when will they be making a decision, what are the hours and working week, what is the salary etc.
Think of the questions they may ask you and the answers you might give. Practice these with a friend or family member as on occasions the same answer but stated in a different way or with a different tone can make all the difference between winning job interviews and losing them.
Preparation is a vital key in winning job interviews.
Step 3: First impressions can win you the job
Creating the right first impression can actually win you the job. This is a vital part of the face to face interview process and far more important than many job seekers will ever believe so get focused on how you make the right first impression by ensuring:
Your appearance which includes dress code and personal hygiene are as would be expected of a person in the role.
Your body language is of a positive nature which includes being enthusiastic, smiling, offering a professional firm handshake, sitting forward and upright and giving acknowledgement. Avoid negative body language such as folding your arms, tapping your fingers and not giving eye contact.
You communicate effectively by listening carefully at all times, take a few seconds to think about your answers before you reply, speak clearly and confidently when you reply and if you wish to interact in the conversation choose the appropriate time to join in.
First impressions of people can and do change over time but throughout the recruitment process the first impression you give will be retained and you will not be able to change it. Make your first impression count in your favour and you may be ahead of 50% of other job seekers, it is a powerful tool.
Step 4: Know your CV in detail
Almost every interview situation will involve some questioning about your career history, work experience, training, skills and education. Initially your CV will have gained you the opportunity of gaining an interview so the prospective employer must have seen something that interested them.
A hiring manager may have many questions with reference to your CV including the reasons why you left previous jobs, gaps in your work history or dates that don’t appear to add up, details of a particular qualification or training course and many more.
If you don’t fully understand and know your CV like the back of your hand you are going to lose the confidence of the hiring manager before the real questions begin. You must be able to answer questions about your CV simply and as a matter of fact.
If possible write your own CV, it has two major benefits. If you write it yourself you know it is correct and you will have a stronger memory of everything you wrote in it. A professionally written CV can often be seen in the terminology used within it which does make some hiring managers cautious as to the reason why you would need someone else to write your CV.
Step 5: How to answer questions
Most interviews will have an amount of time dedicated to it by the hiring manager and there may be interviews that follow on so it is important to use the time effectively by you the interviewee and the hiring manager. The hiring manager or interview panel will most probably have a set of questions made for all interviews to follow, however dependent upon your answer there may be further probing questions asked to clarify or drill deeper into a particular area. This is where the interviews will differ most from one applicant to another.
There are several different types of interview questions however we really need to focus on the main two.
Fact finding questions can be used to find out more about your CV, your work experience, recent training and the very simplest of areas such as why you are interested in the vacancy, what was your last salary and benefits package etc.
Capability questions at interview are normally in the form of placing you in a particular work scenario and asking how you would handle the particular situation. An example of this might be “If you had a customer that was unhappy with your service or product how would you deal with that”. The hiring manager or interview panel will be looking for people that handle a complaint in a way that they expect of their employees and possibly to see if you go the extra mile.
The key point about answering interview questions is to give as much detail as is required to explain yourself in such a way that the hiring manager or interview panel understands your answer fully. Too much detail and you may be using valuable time that could have been used later in the interview or the interviewers start to lose interest, too little detail and you may not cover the answer particularly well.
An interviewer may also try to drill down into your initial answer for detail using words such as “who, why, where, how and when”. This can be a sign that you have given too little detail but this format is used quite often with interviewers.
Remember these 4 points about answering questions:
Take the minimum amount of time required to get your answer across, but don’t forget the detail
Don’t repeat yourself
If you don’t understand an interview question, say so and ask if they can explain it or repeat it
If you don’t know the answer to an interview question simply tell them, you don’t know or are unsure
Always make your answers clear and precise.
Step 6: Concluding the interview
Leave your interviewers with a good feel about you. Always thank the interviewers for their time and the opportunity of meeting with them. If you want the job tell them you are very interested in the job and what you might be able to add to the role if they chose you. Shake hands professionally and ask when they may be at a point to inform you if you have been successful. This is a positive ending. Finally leave them with your copies of training, awards etc. It will again make a lasting impression.
Winning job interviews can be made very simple if you focus on the following points:
- Research the company and their website for services and products they offer, their mission statement, awards they have won, who owns the company and how long have they been established.
- Preparation is of paramount importance, boosts confidence and reduces nerves
- Creating the right first impression can win you the job, creating the wrong one can lose you the job
- Write your own CV and know it like the back of your hand
- Think before you answer a question and give the appropriate level of detail. Avoid repeating yourself
Conclude the interview leaving your interviewers with a positive feel about you