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Ace the Job Interview

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Posted by Thinh Nguyen

almost 2 years ago

Everyone gets nervous about an upcoming job interview. But appearing self-possessed and relaxed is the best way to make a good impression. Here are some ways to build the skills you need to go into an interview full of confidence and positive energy.

Advance preparation is key

Research

Prepare yourself in advance by conducting some basic research before going to the interview. Start with a company’s website where you can find information on their history, businesses and associated operations. You should also research the company’s competitors and industry news/trends on the Internet.

Other Information Sources

  • Call the company and ask them to send brochures containing company information, annual reports, and other pamphlets that may provide more information
  • Read quality newspapers and business magazines as another way to obtain up-to-date company information and market trends

Prepare Your Own Questions Beforehand

Interviews are a good opportunity for you to find out more about the company. If you don’t have any questions to ask about the company, it gives the impression that you are not interested in the company, and therefore not interested in the role. Some good questions to ask include:

  • How would you describe the company’s culture and work environment?
  • What kind of ongoing training is available?
  • What direction is the company going over the next few years?

 

Know what kind of questions to expect

Facing an interview requires you to answer questions in a positive and sustaining manner. Some of the questions that you are asked would be routine ones dealing with your education, past work experience, strengths and weaknesses and family background. These are a way of settling you in to the interview by the interviewer, whose main purpose is to check if you are suitable for the job that you have applied for.

Dealing with personal questions

Most personal questions are predictable ones like “tell us more about yourself” or “what do you think is the biggest achievement you have had in life”. This set of questions is the easiest to prepare for as no one knows you better than yourself. You can have the best possible answers rehearsed for this set of questions. Try and keep your answers somewhat humorous and interesting. Your personality gets a chance to shine through in the personal questions, so make the most of the opportunity.

Handling technical job related queries

This is where the interviewer needs to determine how well equipped you are to carry out the job. Those applying for jobs in the more technical field of engineering or computer software would have to prove their mettle in these questions. Typical puzzles that are often used in interviews would be a good starting point to prepare for such questions. Needless to say you will require adequate knowledge and be able to put it to use in the high pressure interview situation with ease.

Questions about the company

Often the interviewer will ask you what you know about the company and why you feel you are suited for working in it. This allows them to get a feel of how well you know the position of the company in the industry. You can talk about the market position from trade magazines, the work ambiance as you have gathered it to be from current or previous employees and the main motivating factor for you wanting to work in the company. This could be certain type of work that you can do only there or a certain existing account that you want to work for.

Working in a team

This set of questions will hope to gather how well you work in a team and how you respond to authority figures. In some cases where the job does not directly depend upon working closely with others not being a team player may not be a big deal. However having difficulty with your manager or direct boss could prove to be a problem that is counterproductive and so the interviewer would like to gauge your pressure handling skills.

Questions about remuneration

It is difficult to answer the question “what do you expect to be paid” when you are mid-career. If you are a beginner it is good to ask for the industry standard, but if you are changing companies mid-career you should have a good financial incentive for doing so. The best thing in this situation is to let them know what you are currently making and ask them to make an offer to sweeten the deal. Don’t come off as greedy but don’t be a pushover either.

In the end it is important to remember that the interviewer is looking at your core personality just as much at your qualifications. So if you come across as true to your personal nature you are more likely to be picked up for the job than someone who is posturing at being someone he is not.

 

Frequently asked interview questions

  • Please tell me about yourself.
  • Please discuss your past jobs and explain why you chose this career path.
  • What are your strengths?
  • How have you been able to apply your strengths in a job?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How do these affect your work?
  • Have you ever come across any difficulties in your life/work?
  • How did you overcome this/these?
  • What can you contribute to the company?
  • Are you a team player? A team leader?
  • Are you proactive?

Try not to answer questions with simple yes/no answers. Be more expressive and turn your negative points into positive ones (e.g. sometimes I do not work well under extreme pressure, but I overcome this by good time management and prioritizing tasks).

You should possess a basic knowledge of your industry and be well prepared for any technical questions that may be asked during the interview. The most important thing is to relax and enjoy the interview.

Closing the Interview

It is very important that you show you are interested in the job and indicate that you wish to take the next step, which might be another round of interviews.

  • What is the next step? Make sure that the company is interested in you as well.
  • If the company asks you if you are interested in the job, make sure you answer “yes”, even if you are not sure.
  • Show your appreciation to the person who took time to interview you. It is the last chance for you to present yourself. The impression that you leave at the end of the interview is just as important as the one you give at the beginning.