get your dream job :: interview do’s & dont’s
So you’ve cleared the first hurdle and got the interview. Now comes the most daunting stage in getting any job. Give yourself the best chances of a good interview by preparing in advance.
Possible Questions and Answers
You should have a good idea at this point of exactly what the job will entail. Take another look at the advert and, if possible, call the company to ask further details. Make a note of any specific tasks or goals, and research similar positions using the internet.
Sit down and think about what questions the employer may ask, then come up with your own answers. Have a few key points for each response – keep them concise and not too specific.
For example, if the job description mentions adhering to deadlines, you might be asked a question about when you have done this. Think along the lines of organizing yourself or a team, what tasks were set and how they were distributed according to difficulty, time taken, and specific skill-sets.
Put yourself in the employer’s place. If you were hiring for the job you are applying for, what questions would you ask a potential employee to judge their working character?
Experience and Examples
Your résumé should have given a history of previous employment that was relevant to this job. Take a copy along in case they don’t have the one that you sent. If there are any gaps in your employment, make sure that you have reasons prepared that don’t seem like excuses – employers will be looking for stability and commitment.
Make sure you don’t bad-mouth any old bosses, or you may come off as arrogant and rash – however bad your previous treatment was. Mention previous jobs that bear the most similarity to the one you are interviewing for and emphasize the most senior roles you have held.
If certain qualities are needed for the job, have good examples of why you have them. You can mention previous punctuality and attendance records, how you managed to change a downturn in sales, or how you were given responsibility for certain important tasks.
Employers nearly always ask for a personal opinion of your bad qualities. Try not to use the cliché of working too hard, as this is looked on as a cop-out. Use an example of where you slipped up, but then turned the situation around and made the best of it. Customer complaints can often be turned into an opportunity to display good service.
Dress for the Occasion
The general rule for dressing to interviews is to go one smarter than the job would normally be. If there is a specific uniform then try to wear something similar. If workers are normally in jeans and t-shirts: wear jeans, a polo, or a good shirt without a tie, and semi-smart shoes or trainers. If the job is smart-casual: wear smart trousers with a shirt and tie. For anything smarter you should always wear a suit.
Give Yourself Plenty of time
Find out how long it takes to get to the building where the interview will take place, and leave with plenty of time. Have a small snack and a cup of coffee – if it doesn’t give make you jittery or sweat – before you leave. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early in order to find exactly where the interview will take place. Punctuality is an easy way to stand out from the crowd. There is no worse way to start off a job interview than having to apologize for being late.
Relax and Think Positively
Before leaving for the interview, make sure you feel relaxed. Listen to a favorite album or read quietly. Relax your shoulders, breathe deeply and keep a smile on your face. Going through your notes and CV a few times before you leave will keep important information at the front of your head.
First impressions count for a lot, and the first few seconds of meeting someone last an age. Smile, stand when being introduced, and look people in their eyes. Don’t be too firm with your handshake. This can be seen as a show of aggression, or compensation for nerves. Sit upright, don’t slouch, and keep your hands on your lap.
Looking relaxed and confident is an indicator of competence and honesty. Try not to um and ah when speaking, instead slow yourself down a little and don’t be afraid to think for a few seconds before giving an answer. When the interview is over, thank the interviewers for their time, shake their hands and express that you look forward to hearing from them.
Getting a Reply
With these tips you’ll have a much better chance of getting that Dream Job, and with a little luck you’ll get an offer. If the salary is what you wanted, ask a few more questions and check the contract before saying yes. If something looks too good to be true, it often is.
If you don’t get a reply or are not offered the job, don’t take it badly. You will have at least learnt something from the experience. Now you can go forward with more knowledge of how to handle yourself in an interview situation.
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