Essential interview tips
Got an interview for that job you’re after? Here are some great tips to up your chances of doing well and standing out from the crowd.
1. Be prepared. Read up on your potential employer, go over some practice questions, and be prepared to talk about yourself in a positive light. Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, you may have other qualities the employer is looking for. Enthusiasm counts for a lot!
2. Dress appropriately. It’s better to be a bit over-dressed than too casual. Even if the regular company culture dress-style is fairly informal it’s still always a good idea to dress in formal office gear for the initial job interview. A suit and tie for men and a pants or skirt suit for women is ideal.
3. Switch your phone off! You don’t want any distractions, and neither does your interviewer.
4. Don’t lie.
5. Don’t badmouth past employers. This will only put you in a negative light. Plus, it can be a small world – you never know who might know your past employer.
6. Be honest. If you don’t know the answer to a question say so, then try and draw the topic back to more positive points.
7. Listen, then take a moment to think about your answer. Re-phrasing the question back to the interviewer is a good way to clarify what the person is actually asking.
8. Have a few questions ready for the end of the interview. Even if it’s just one or two, about something you may have read on the company’s website. It shows initiative, and avoids the awkward pause at the end when you invariably will be asked if you have any questions.
9. Finally, don’t take it to heart if you don’t get the job you’ve interviewed for. Sometimes it’s not you, it’s them! An employer might think they are not the right fit for you, rather than the other way around.
10. There are loads of online sites with tips and videos on helping you prepare. Review sites with typical interview questions. Some have great sample answers, too.
Here are a few to get you started:
Stay focused for success!
Getting your career going can take time, and you might face some hurdles along the way. The process –applying for a job, interviewing, to finally starting – can take a while.
Here are 10 ways to keep focused on your job-hunt.
1. Do something else as well
It may take quite a while to find the job you’re after (and get it!). In the meantime, keep your part-time job, or do some volunteering. Any experience (paid or unpaid) will be viewed more favourably than none!
2. Clean up your social media
Remember that agencies and potential employers may look for you on Facebook etc, so make sure your privacy settings are secure and don’t make anything public that you’d be embarrassed for an employer to see.
3. Make a list of what you want in a job
It’s easy to get distracted when looking at ‘positions vacant’ ads – don’t waste time getting side-tracked by applying for jobs you’re not qualified for, don’t suit, or don’t really want. Keep your list of ‘wants’ firmly in mind and if an available job doesn’t cut it, move on.
4. Get talking
Don’t confine your career communication to the computer – let as many people know that you’re in the market for a job, and keep talking. Remember only a small percentage of jobs are advertised, and you never know when someone you know might have a connection.
5. Be persistent!
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an interview, or if you interview and don’t get the job. You have no idea who else is applying – don’t take it personally and wallow. Ask for feedback if you’ve interviewed, learn from it, then move on.
6. Get a mentor
It helps to have someone with experience in the industry you’re after to give advice, tips, and contacts. Contact Human Resources at a company you’re interested in, or ask your uni Careers Advice Services for some ideas.
7. Keep in touch
Keep in touch with people you may want to use as referees. You will need to let them know if you put forward their name and contact details. It could be your boss from the supermarket job you had, a teacher or lecturer, or someone from a sports or other club you belong to.
8. Make a to do list
Make a ‘to do’ list for each day. If you have some clear objectives (call some companies, visit careers services, search the web, get your references sorted out) you will be ready when you do get that call for an interview. (Plus, you’ll keep your parents happy!)
9. Use your online time well
Allocate a set time (an hour or two) for online job search activities ONLY and stick to it. You can check your email, tweet or go on Facebook all you like when you’re done.
10. Stay positive
Try to stay upbeat, make as many contacts as you can, and enjoy the process. Pretty soon you won’t have nearly as much free time on your hands!
Here are some tips to increase your chances of scoring your dream job:
- Don’t just apply for advertised jobs− it’s estimated that only about 15-20 % of all available jobs are ever publicly advertised in any medium.
- Talk! Put the word out that you’re in the market. Start well in advance. The right thing might not be available now, but you might still be looking in a couple of months when a position comes up at the company where your friend’s dad’s friend works, and he remembers you talking about looking for a grad position.
- Volunteer! If you can’t get paid employment, consider volunteering. Not only will it look great on your CV but you will make contacts that could prove invaluable. Ditto for work experience.
- Social media. Create a profile on LinkedIn, and use Twitter and Facebook to find out more about your chosen industry as well as enhancing your profile. Keep your public profile professional though!
- Professional associations (e.g. a law society or local chamber of commerce). These are a good way to network, meet people and learn more about in your intended industry.
Remember – people employ people!
It’s not just about what you know,
it’s not just about who you know,
it’s about what you know AND it’s about who you know.