You have the Interview ... now what!?

Some key pointers to get you in a strong position for success at your next job interview.

You’ve done it! You have secured the job interview. This is the chance you have been waiting for – the chance to prove yourself worthy of the job of your dreams.  Well even if it isn’t the job of your ‘dreams’, it is a job that you are interested in, else you wouldn’t be there.  In any case, you want to make the best of it and ensure you put your best foot forward.  The goal is to get the job offer.  Then you can decide what you want to do next.  In order to get to this stage, look out for my other articles to come. 

So what do you do? Well the first thing to know is that your success depends almost equally on the planning and preparation you have done in the lead-up to the interview as it does on your performance in the interview itself.  They are heavily interrelated. 

In any job interview, your success is about knowledge – of your interviewer(s), the role, what they are looking for, the company or organisation you are applying to and of course yourself.  It’s this last one which is key.  Knowledge about yourself includes – strengths/weaknesses/aspirations/goals and plans/why you are the best person for the role, etc.  Ok to get down to specifics

First step is to review the advertisement. Pick out all the key words, the ones that describe the role and what the organisation is looking for in this position. Underline them, make sure you understand them. Look for clues as to what the company may be looking for. Know how to put yourself in the position of matching them with your specific experience.

Second task, is that if you have got this far (getting an interview), then you have had the chance to communicate with the organisation in some way or they have communicated with you. The worst situation is if you were sent a letter saying you had an interview.  You’ll see why in a minute. The better option is if you were called on the phone.  Great opportunity to interact!  This could include the HR representative and/or the actual interviewer. This means you have had a chance to talk with the key player(s). You need to ask a few key questions at this stage. The number one key question to ask is: What are the key criteria which you will use to select the successful candidate? Or similar words. This will give you gold. The point is that you want to get them talking about the role and what they are looking for.  Then you can mould your experience and background examples to what they want.  The other key thing to ask is if there is a Position Description (PD) available and if you could get a copy prior to the interview?  This will also give you gold. It will tell you a lot.  It will also enable you to formulate some intelligent questions to ask the interviewer. You must have at least three ready to go prior to walking into the interview.

Third, start to anticipate the questions you may be asked. The best thing you can do at this stage is to anticipate as many of the potential questions the interviewer might ask.  Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. What would you want to know about ‘you’ if you were interviewing ‘you’ for the said role?  Each to his/her own learning style, but I like to write everything down. Gives you time to think about the answers as you write them out. I also recommend using a dedicated writing journal, but a school lecture pad will do just as well. Try not to use lose sheets of paper. You will also want to write out your top strengths and key messages you want convey to your interviewer. A summary of ‘you’, so to speak.  Once you do these you’ll be able to come back to them for other possible interviews if required. Same applies to the other anticipated questions you think the interviewer will ask.

Now before we go any further, you need to know that most interviewers are not that good at it. They are slightly nervous and want to help you, believe it or not.  They want an easy process.  They don’t want to interview 12 people! They are not there to trick you or catch you out either. Really! If they are, you probably don’t want to work there! So what this means is that they will most likely fall back on the standard opening questions - Tell me a bit about your yourself? Or the classic - Take me through your CV? Or Why do you want to work here? That’s about it. If you have answers ready to go for these, then you you’ll get a good start.  The “take me through your CV” one is an almost always one.  You MUST have a good story to talk through your CV. Cover the job transitions smoothly and talk about your achievements in a positive light always.  Never bag past employers or people you have worked with.

Well that is enough for now. There is more.  See my next article for more info. Hope this helps. The main take away point is that your success at an interview starts well before you walk in the door. Have fun and relax. You know you have prepared.

Job interviews can be fun and successful, but you have to plan and prepare.