By Tina Soetzenberg
Acing an interview doesn’t always come naturally but, there are efficient and simple ways to ensure you leave a lasting impression – the right one.
The amazing work mom, blogger and community practitioner Jonelle du Pont, has done through her Women Empowerment Programme has successfully provided needed assistance to those struggling to properly prepare for an interview.
Here’s eight effective steps Jonelle believes will help you prepare better for an interview:
- Research Research Research
When you go into an interview, make sure you go into it prepared. There is so much information available on the internet that there is really no excuse to go into an interview unarmed with knowledge about the job.
Three main areas you want to focus your research on include:
- The company
Find out as much as you can on what the company actually does. Find out who their clients are and what their products or services are! You can do this by simply looking on their website or social media profiles. It can be very useful to see what type of articles or information they share on Twitter or Facebook. Know exactly who they are and what their values and mission are.
- The people
If you don’t already know, call ahead and ask who will be interviewing you. Will it be a single person or a panel of people? Then look them up on the company website, on social media or on LinkedIn. It can be really helpful to know the role of the people interviewing you so that you can ask them the right kinds of questions. As an added bonus, you’re always going to impress someone if you know more about them than they expected you to know.
- The position
If the position already exists, look it up on the website and see what the role entails. Try to get as much information from the job advert and from other sources of information. Knowledge is power and the more you know about the role, the more you will be able to show your interviewer why you are best suited to that role. It’s a lot easier to match your skills to the exact requirements of a position than to try to showcase every skill you’ve ever developed.
- Compare your skills and match them to the job
When you’re asked about the skills you bring, make sure that the skills you mention are relevant to the actual position. If you’re not confident about what your skills are, it may help to create a list of skills that you think you have. Then when you apply for a position, see which of your skills can be paired with the requirements of the job you have applied for. Mentioning that you’re a skilled tight rope walker isn’t very helpful, unless you’re actually applying for a position in a circus. Some skills that you might mention are: communication skills, planning and organizing skills, problem solving etc. Don’t be afraid to go into detail and give examples that help to demonstrate those skills.
- Plan what to wear
It used to be simple to choose an outfit for an interview, you simply put on your smartest suit. But things have changed since then and what you wear depends on where you’re interviewing and what the role is.
When you go for the interview, you want to be sure that you’re dressed appropriately and not stick out like a sore thumb. Being dressed overly smart might show that you don’t fit into a very casual workplace, but turning up under-dressed can come across as sloppy or like you couldn’t be bothered. Research the company culture and dress code, look at their website and social media and match what you wear to what you see for a good fit.
If their dress culture is very informal it’s a good idea to smarten your outfit up a little with a smart blazer and a good pair of pants. Never turn up looking like you’re on your way to the beach. Wearing flip-flops and shorts is always a no-no. If in doubt, rather look over-dressed than under-dressed.
When it comes to accessories, less is usually more. Don’t wear anything that will detract attention away from you. Nothing flashy and brightly coloured either. The same applies to your hairstyle, keep it simple and neat.
- Prepare responses to the “trick” questions
Write down a few bullet points to help yourself prepare for the inevitable, dreaded “trick” questions. A question that often causes stress to candidates is “tell me about yourself” – while it might seem like a fairly straightforward question, you are most likely not being asked about your life story when this question pops up.
What the interviewer wants to know is how are you most well suited to this role. Or, what experience do you have that makes you suitable for the position you are interviewing for. Don’t go off on a tangent about your family or the place you were born. Instead, using two or three solid points, talk about the skills you have picked up during your career or personal traits that make you the best possible candidate for the job.
When you are asked a question of any nature, make sure you’re honest. Don’t lie to make yourself sound better or more experienced. Instead, highlight the skills that you really do have that make you ideal for the job.
Another “trick” question and commonly the question dreaded by everyone interviewing for any position is “tell me about your weaknesses” – no one wants to come across as weak and picking a weakness is quite tricky. In this situation, it’s usually best to pick a weakness that you are addressing. When answering this question, follow-up by explaining how although you know it’s a weakness, you are working on it and explain how you’re overcoming it.
- The “mock” interview
Ask someone to do a run through interview with you or even do one with yourself. Practice answering questions that you might be asked, especially if they’re questions that you might struggle with so that you’ve got a feeling for the way to respond. If you need a moment, take a breath, pause and then answer the best you can. Make sure you don’t use words filler words such as “um’ and ‘like” which will make you sound less professional even if you’re an expert in your field.
- Questions for your interviewer
Be sure to have a few questions prepared as your interviewer might ask you if you have any questions for them. Responding with “no” makes you look disinterested in the position. You also want to be certain that the role and company are the right fit for you and your personality or matches your expectations. A few questions you might ask include “what do you think are qualities needed by a person to excel at this job?” or “what is the typical career path of someone in this role?” Have two or three prepared questions means that you won’t be caught off guard should this question arise.
- Prepare for the trip
Ahead of your interview, be sure to look up where the interview will be held. If it’s a route you’re not familiar with, it might be a good idea to do a test run at the same time of day of your interview. Never ever arrive late to an interview, always give yourself extra time to get there on time. It really doesn’t give a good first impression to keep your future employers waiting for you. If you are unavoidably running late due to something out of your control, be sure to call ahead and let them know.
- Follow up
At the end of your interview, try to collect the business cards of the individual or individuals in the interview you so that you can easily follow-up. You should always send an email thanking everyone who interviewed you for their time. Make sure to send your email within a day of the interview. In your email, you should reiterate briefly why you are suited to the position by highlighting a few of your skills. If there is anything that you think might add value but that you forgot to mention in the interview, now is your chance to bring it up. Always proof read anything you send through and it might even be a good idea to get someone else to give it the once over.
A job interview can be a weird experience for anyone, with the fear of the unknown often leaving you in a state of nerves. Will the interview be lively and filled with active discussion? Or will it a hopeless mess? Well, you’ll have to get there to find out! Instead of allowing the nerves to get the better of you, embrace this new challenge, trust in yourself and prepare for what’s to come. You won’t land your dream job unless you try. So, do your best and head into that interview room ready shine!