Mastering the Interview

By Ben WoodwardBanner image

If you ask most people what aspect of the job application process they dread the most, it is the interview. If you agree, who can blame you?

The interview is tough for several reasons; it’s near the end of the process and so you’re emotionally invested, there’s a lot of unknowns such as the questions, and you’re under the most scrutiny.

However, the interview is also your opportunity to sell yourself. For the first time, the recruiters get to learn who you are and why you are a great candidate. Most candidates who do not pass the interview can attribute one of two reasons.

First, and most likely, there was someone more qualified. This one is hard, because there is not much to do beyond accumulating more experience. The second is that the candidate did not demonstrate the best of themselves due to nerves or failure to prepare.

Preparation and Research

First thing to research is the organization. Make sure you understand the function, its mission, history, and key accomplishments over the last few years. It is important to use this information to illustrate why you want to work there.

  • To find this information, use the website, social media, newsletters, the news, and talk to people who already work there if you can.

The second thing to research is yourself. This might sound strange, why would you need to research yourself? It is important you are able to articulate your motivations for working for the organization. In addition, you will depend upon your previous accomplishments to illustrate why you are the right fit – make sure you have refreshed your memory regarding previous employment.

The third thing to note is your references, ideally three – one character reference and two former bosses. Ask them in advance to make sure they can prepare references for you that reflect the work you did.

  • Research your interviewer if you can. This can be helpful so you know what they look like and how their career has progressed. If you are lucky, you may identify commonalities you can use to connect in person.

Factors to Consider Before You Leave the House

Are you mentally prepared? This means eating a good breakfast, staying hydrated, and making sure you have a clear head before you leave the house.

Next, make sure you know how you are getting to the interview. If possible, do a practice run beforehand to make sure you know what the building looks like, which entrance to take, the public transport route, and other factors.

Remember that the weather will have a tremendous impact. If it is raining or snowing, your journey time will increase. In addition, if it a very hot day, you will likely need to walk to travel in something more comfortable and change into professional attire before you enter the building.

The night before your interview, prepare what your outfit, ideally something you have worn before. Remember, it is better to overdress than underdress (you can take off your tie or blazer). Also, pack your bag. You will need several copies of your resume, notepad and pens, water, a list of references, and anything else you have been asked to bring.

The Interview

Aim to arrive for your interview ten minutes early and inform the front desk. Your body language throughout must be confident, and remember, smiling is infectious. When your interviewer arrives, stand up to greet them and make eye contact.

  • When it comes to the Q&A, you can often anticipate some of the questions, but not all. Whatever the questions, ask yourself what skill they are trying to decipher from you, this is why it is important to know the job description. answering a question, use examples from your previous experience to illustrate your point.

  • If you have more than one interviewer, be sure to engage each one of them.

When given the opportunity, ask questions of your interviewer. It is always a good idea to prepare about five questions with the expectation of asking two or three of them. You may also have questions arise naturally throughout the conversation.

The Follow-Up

After your interview, it is essential you send a thank you note to each of your interviewers. Hand-written is preferable, but if you have any doubt that it not will reach them before the decision, send an email.

If you get the job, great! If not, be sure to ask for feedback on what you could have done to improve. Remember; no matter the outcome be courteous throughout.

Good luck!