Your palms are sweating. The butterflies in your stomach are having a field day. You’re starting to wonder if the person in front of you can hear your heart rattling wildly in your ribcage.
Job interviews are nerve-wracking, no doubt about it, especially if you’re interviewing for your dream job. Take it easy: if you’re already sitting there in the waiting room, it means they see potential in you.
Now all you have to do is prove them right: here are six ways to blow them away. Top it up with SSA Academy’s WSQ course on maintaining personal presentation and employability, and you’re all set.
This should be an absolute no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many prospective candidates walk in without having done enough research and still expect to impress.
The single most effective way to show your interviewer that you’re not that interested is to fail to do enough research about the company, the position, and the person interviewing you.
Read up on everything you can get your hands on. Look up the company vision and mission, download press releases, white papers, and quarterly earnings, and check out their social media presence to get a feel of the company culture and how they’re branding themselves.
Be sure to get a good feel of their organisational strengths and weaknesses, their position within the industry, who their main competitors are, what their consumer base looks like, and their plans for the future. Identify areas for improvement and come up with a few suggestions to bring up during the interview.
If possible, leverage on your networks to talk to people who are already employed there to get a personal account of what it’s like to work there (but be subtle about it.) Otherwise, looking up the company on Glassdoor or LinkedIn can give you some useful insights.
Read and re-read the job description and requirements to make sure you fully understand what they’re looking for in potential candidates. It might help to glance through other job positions in the same company to see if there are any recurring themes in what they’re looking for. You can use this information during the interview to showcase how you’re the perfect fit for them.
If you don’t already know who you’ll be interviewed by, drop them a polite email to find out. Then look your interviewer(s) up online to get a good feel of their experience and any possible talking points you might want to bring up during the interview to establish rapport.
First impressions are everything when it comes to interviews, so it won’t hurt to be meticulous about choosing what you’ll wear. Be aware of differences in dress codes though: dressing appropriately for an interview at a large corporation might call for a completely different look than it does at a small start-up.
When in doubt, either look at videos and photos of company offices to see how people generally dress there or ask your hiring manager directly about the dress code for the interview.
Something that tends to be overlooked is cleaning up your social media footprint. There will be mutual online stalking before the interview takes place, so remove anything from your public profiles that wouldn’t appeal to prospective employers.
You’ll also need to make sure you bring along the necessary documentation, including resumes, portfolios, and references. Have everything neatly organised in a folder along with a notepad and pen and paper to take notes during the interview.
Many interviews start with you being asked to describe yourself. That isn’t a cue for you to recite your resume verbatim on the spot.
Instead, use the opportunity to highlight your resume’s key selling points, then flesh out aspects of your life and experiences that aren’t reflected on it.
For instance, if you’re interviewing for a position at an advertising agency, instead of just saying “I’m very passionate about advertising” you might want to tell a little story about a particular point in your life that made you realise you wanted to work in the advertising industry.
Telling a story this way also gives you the chance to bring out a little of your personality, humanise yourself, and build rapport with your interviewers. Be sure not to overdo it, though; it can backfire if you’re too long-winded or over-dramatise your story.
Unless it is something you struggle with, saying that perfectionism is your biggest weakness will only exasperate your interviewers.
Give it some real thought before you show up. What are your areas for improvement, and how are you actively working on them?
The point is not for you to make yourself look flawless. Showing that you’re aware of your weakness is a sign of good emotional intelligence. If you can demonstrate your commitment to continuously improving yourself in this regard, you’ll show that you’re adaptive and receptive to feedback as well.
Asking the right questions at the end of the interview can really set you apart from the other interviewees. This is when you can show that you’ve done your research (if you haven’t already shown it), dig for more details about the position, or get an account from the interviewer herself about the company culture.
Don’t stop there; ask about the next stages of the interview process so you know what to expect in terms of how long you should wait, how to prepare, whom to contact, and so on.
Be as efficient as possible in sending over a thank-you email after the interview ends. Generally, the cut-off point here is within 24 hours, but the sooner, the better. You want to make sure that the memory of the interview is still fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.
They’re probably swamped with similar emails from other prospective candidates, so keep it short and sweet without being brusque: