If you’re reading this, you’re probably in one of two boats, you’ve just joined the job market and are looking to land your first job or have been around and are looking to make a change.
Either way, you definitely want to make sure your interview skills are sharp before you start (or continue) making the rounds. If that’s you, then you’re at the right place!
This article will cover the top 5 things you need to know before going for an interview, and 6 bonus tips that will give you an edge in every interview you go to. It really doesn’t matter what level you are, these tips will help you regardless.
Let’s dive right into it!
If you don’t remember anything else from this post, remember that all interviewers will care about how confident you are. Confidence tells the interviewer that you know your material, are not afraid to speak up, and thus would make for a very good addition to their team.
Now “be confident” is obviously easier said than done because we tend to forget that interviewers are human like the rest of us, and are just as invested in the interview going well as you are. The fact that they’re interviewing people means they have a deficiency in their team that they’re eager to fill and would happily take you on if they feel you’d be a good value for money.
Something worth noting here is that most times, the interviewer would not even be from your field of expertise and is basically gauging you just based on how confident you are with what you already know and how you present yourself. So remember, you are the expert in the room, behave like it. Now even if the interviewer is of the same profession as you, he or she isn’t there to showcase what they know better than you, they are there to figure out whether you can do the job. Show them you can.
One of the most important things to remember during an interview is it’s okay not to know answers to all the questions, in fact, the interviewers don’t expect you to. So instead of risking disqualification or creating a really terrible first impression by getting caught in a lie, remind yourself that “I don’t know” is a perfectly good answer in an interview.
A common pitfall among many interviewees is they don’t listen attentively and just wait for the chance to jump in and press on their premeditated agenda.
While inattentive listening is a bad trait altogether, it’s much worse in an interview because a lot of times what the interviewer says is information he or she is giving you for free about their expectations.
So, pay attention to everything they say, and try to think of a way you can use that information to your advantage.
For example, through the interviewers’ questions, you might get hints about how that organization is structured based on the very elaborate ‘examples’ they’ve been giving.
You can then structure your future responses based on this new understanding, making it appear as though you’re answering their questions before they have to ask.
4. Do your homework
There are questions you can almost always expect to be asked in an interview. Questions such as tell me about yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your salary expectations, etc. Be prepared to answer these questions by knowing what you will say before going to the interview. You will be surprised at the benefits of doing this. We will be addressing these questions specifically in another article.
5. Understand your role
Read and understand the job description before going to the interview. Read it multiple times to make sure you understand it really well. Anchor your points to the roles described in the job description and try to come up with a few creative ideas on how you can add more value within the scope of your work.
Now, apart from these obvious tips which you clearly already knew but just needed a bit of reminding, there are other much more subtle tips that aren’t as obvious but they no doubt are equally, if not more, important. These are:
6. Sit with good posture: Your body language is important because it conveys how confident you are, and whether you really know what you are doing.
7. Try to maintain eye contact:Look at everyone in the eye. Shows confidence, and makes the interviewers take you seriously.
8. Stay calm, breathe normally: Nervousness is normal, no matter how experienced or prepared you are. When you feel your heartbeat rising and experience shortness of breath, remember to take a deep breath and try to calm yourself. What’s the worst thing that could happen? You did not have that job yesterday, if you don’t get it today, your life is not going to end. The world isn’t ending either.
9. Don’t speak negatively about a place you worked for, instead, share what you learned: Even if negative things really did happen, try not to talk about them in a negative light. Instead, talk about what you learned from the situation. This will make you seem like a decent human being, and an interviewer is likely to be impressed at your learning and observation skills.
10. Pause and think for a second before answering questions. And make sure you listen attentively: Maybe you think you need to answer a question right away in order to appear knowledgeable. But the truth is, that is not a thing. Feel free to take a minute and think about your answer when asked a difficult question.
11. If you’re going to have questions for the interviewer, make sure you have a shortlist of questions prepared: Don’t just make up questions on the fly. It’s always better to be prepared. Ask questions you would ask if you got the job.
This is also a good way to show you did your homework on the organization. Ask questions such as what do you like best about working here? What are the common mistakes people have made in this position? What is the goal you are currently working towards? How will my performance be evaluated? Etc.
12. Always know how much you want to be paid: Instead of telling the interviewer that you will accept anything in the budget, workout how much you think your service is worth relative to the reposnsibilities that will be assigned to you.
If you can muster the energy and resources, try to figure out how much other people are being paid for similar work. If it’s your first job, calculate how much money you need for essential things that you must have.
Consider things such as transport fee, rent (if you pay rent), food & water, airtime, emergency money, and savings. Then you can create a benchmark where you can begin your negotiations from. Remember, the interviewer just wants to know your expectations for their report.
However, by knowing exactly how much you think your service is worth, and reasonably so, you display a level of professionalism that your fellow entry-level candidates most likely won’t (unless they also read this blog post).