A 6 Step Guide to a Successful Job Interview
Tips for a Successful Job Interview Questions and Answers
[Republished from previous post – Jenni Proctor]
It’s time for your job interview! Stomach churning, sweaty palms, nerves affect most people at an interview. All of your time spent completing applications, submitting resumes, tailoring cover letters and responding to job advertisements have led you to this. You need to perform at your best so you are in the optimal position for a job offer. You don’t want to mess up any of your job search, but most particularly now you have reached this point of being invited for a job interview.
Job Interview Preparation
Step 1: Know who is interviewing you
Knowing the audience interviewing (as well as the company) always helps your interview questions and answers preparation. What type of job interview will you be in? Will a panel or an individual conduct the interview? If it is a panel, how large a panel and what is the makeup? Will the HR department or the person who will be supervising you, or maybe future colleagues do the interview?
What kind of company is it? Is it privately held or publicly traded? How long have they been in business? Who is their target market? Are they the industry leader or a strong competitor? Where are their corporate headquarters located? Do your research and make notes on your discoveries. Gather annual reports, trade/industry news, review their website, investigate them online, if possible talk to current/past employees, etc. The more you know of the company’s history, niche, competitors and business and growth plans, the more prepared you’ll be to discuss their needs and how you are the person to fit their culture and address their issues.
Step 2: Be prepared for the interview
Anticipate and respond to their interview questions and answers. The typical job interview lasts a good 60 minutes. During the first few minutes, the interviewer will usually set the tone by providing information on the company and the position. They will then refer to your resume, cover letter, portfolio, and any other information you provided, and begin asking you questions.
Be prepared to engage with the standard and possible interview questions and answers. Some of these interview questions may be uncomfortable for you. There is no excuse for showing your discomfort because you know they are coming your way. Practice your responses. Consider role playing with an objective person to help you smooth out your answers.
Step 3: Prepare penetrating interview questions.
If it is a panel, make sure you have enough copies of your resume, cover letter, portfolio, etc, for each person. Read my tips on successful resume writing. My standard rule of thumb is to have 20 questions ready to go. During the conversation, many of your questions will get covered, so by having 20, you are bound to have a few remaining to demonstrate your interest and critical thinking skills. The questions you ask during the job interview are just as significant as the answers you give. It is acceptable to have a notepad of your prepared interview questions with you. You can not possibly remember all of them; nor they expect you to. However, make certain that the notepad you bring with you looks professional. Remember to present yourself as polished and professional.
Step 4: First impressions count
Preparing for interview questions and answers is only part of the equation. You have a single shot at making a dynamic first impression. Your audience is obviously eager to meet with you or else they would not have scheduled the interview. Capitalise on their enthusiasm.
Show up 10 minutes early. Wear appropriate clothing. I have tips on how to dress successfully for a job interview. If the standard is business dress, dress accordingly with polished shoes, cuff links and a power tie for men. For women, business suit or other appropriate business attire is required. For a casual environment, a button-down shirt and sport coat may be suitable for men, while a dress or pants or skirt and a nice blouse will be fitting for women. Don’t over accessorise.
It sounds simplistic, but two things that can make or break you are not using an iron and dressing like you are going out on the town instead of out to an interview. Beware of being too casual as well as showing too much skin; heel height, jewellery and make-up speak volume. How you present yourself creates a large part of the image the interviewer/s will have of you. Think of how frequently people are judged on their appearance before they ever even open their mouths.
Many coaches believe you can never overdress. I don’t agree. Dressing out of alignment to the job or your audience risks giving the wrong impression. Aside from dress, be confident, smile, offer firm handshakes to everyone you meet, good posture and eye contact. And, of course, remember your manners.
Step 5: Communicate effectively.
Nonverbal communication accounts for 93% of all messages (38% tone and 55% body language). That means that less than 7% of communication bis as a result of the actual words we say. To truly communicate effectively, your non-verbal communication has to be in agreement with what you are saying. Nod your head during the interview questions to communicate that you follow. Maintain eye contact. Sit facing your audience. Keep your arms and hands pointed toward your audience. Smile often and show enthusiasm to win them over.
Also, be mindful of your audience’s body language. Are they interested in you? Have you engaged them effectively? Specifically ask an insightful question to those you have not yet won over to connect specifically with them. Providing effective interview questions and answers requires congruence in your body language, tone, specific language. Practice if necessary.
Step 6: Follow up
Follow up is critical but the level of followup should be determined by your location, potential position and seniority. Some people recommend collecting business cards from everyone in the interview as well as everyone you interacted with along the way. This includes the person scheduling the interview, the receptionist you spoke with on the phone, etc. Everyone gets a hand written thank you note. Make sure all names and titles are spelled correctly and get the notes mailed within 24 hours. In the message, add something compelling in the message to confirm your personal skills and desire for the position. To me that seems like over-kill, but in corporate USA it is expected. In Australia a polite email message to the main interviewer could be considered adequate.
In order to earn the job offer, you have to interview effectively! Although the interview questions and answers component can create some anxiety for you, the more you practice and prepare, the more confident you become and the better you perform.
Good luck with preparing your job interview questions and answers and happy interviewing!
Make sure to read the Top 5 Toughest Interview Questions Executive Job Seekers Should Be Prepared to Answer.
Are you a baby boomer? We listed down the 5 job interview mistakes that baby boomers make!
Do you want to make a positive impression at every interview? Career Reno can help you prepare for those job interviews and market yourself successfully to a prospective employer.