Category Archives: Candidate interviews

How to ace an interview in five steps

Interviews are a BIG deal. With job competition at an all-time high, it is vital to make sure you stand out from the crowd in interview. Here’s how to do it.

Despite phone and video interviews rising in popularity, a face-to-face interview is still the preferred choice by many recruiters. Not only does it give them the chance to meet and interact with you properly, it also feels more personal and authentic than a session on Skype or Google Hangout. Most companies will also interview in their own offices which could you a valuable insight into your potential future workplace. So, without further ado, here are your five steps to success in face-to-face job interviews.

1. Preparation

I cannot stress this enough: preparation is absolutely the key to a successful interview. So much so in fact that if you walk into an interview unprepared, you might as well not have gone at all. You’ll feel silly and you’ll waste yours and the recruiter’s time.

Trawl through the company’s website

  • Check out the company’s news and recent exciting innovations. It will give you a good starting point to talk about if asked ‘Why are you interested in this company?’, but also save you from looking a fool when asked your opinion on some new development of theirs you’ve never even heard about
  • Find out what their values are. In the interview, use their buzzwords to reflect that your values are a fit with those of the company; this is so important to them. Also, at the end of the day you’re educating yourself on what life is like in this company and whether you’d actually like to work for them!
  • You could even look up the boss’s LinkedIn page to gain an in-depth grasp of who they are and what they stand for

Read and re-read the job description and make sure you fully understand it

  • Not only should you be well-versed on the company itself, but also on your specific role in it. Make sure you fully understand what will be expected of you!
  • When asked to describe yourself, use the key skills that they mentioned in the job description. Be subtle about it though—don’t just recite their advert back to them or you will come across as ingenuine.

2. Turn up on time

You’d think this goes without saying if you are looking to make a good impression but feedback says 30% of employers biggest pet peeve is a candidate turning up late, meaning it must happen relatively often. Don’t be this guy!

Specific tips:

  • Don’t be too late or too early. For most places, arriving around 10 minutes before your interview is perfect timing. Any earlier than that and you’ll be in the way while they’re setting up for you. Any later and you’ll be frazzled and unfocused.
  • Practice the route beforehand especially if it’s an area of town you’re not too familiar with
  • On the day, allow lots of time for any unexpected delays. If you end up arriving super early though this is not necessarily a bad thing—you could go and sit in a café and gather your thoughts
  • And if you are still running late on the day—CALL and let the interviewer know in advance of time. Most interviewers will be forgiving if you call half an hour beforehand and say you’re caught in terrible traffic; after all, this is out of your control. In a worst-case scenario, you could ask if it’s possible to reschedule for another day.

3. Make a good first impression

This one is fairly self-explanatory, but body language is so important. Regardless of how perfect your answers to their questions may be, if you are slouching in your chair, nervously fiddling with your hands or compulsively yawning, no recruiter is going to be impressed.

Specific tips:

  • Dress suitably for the occasion. Always opt for smarter rather than casual!
  • Give a firm hand shake, make sufficient eye contact and smile a lot
  • Try and not fiddle anxiously. Of course, this is easier said than done and naturally you are nervous. But by keeping your fidgeting under wraps, you will physically appear more confident and competent, and this will have an impact on your mental calm too
  • Avoid distraction by turning off your phone before you even enter the building. This tells the interviewer that they are the priority. It’s just a basic sign of respect, plus it can be incredibly distracting to both you and the interviewer if it goes off

4. Ask questions

It is really off-putting for interviewers to ask a candidate if they have any questions and get a blank face and a “…No, not really” in reply. This in itself is the final test! Up to 30% of employers have reported that asking no questions is their biggest interview no-no. To a recruiter, no questions means no interest, which of course is not what they want. Ask questions that reflect why you’re drawn to the company.

Some great question ideas could be:

To indicate you’re interested in career progression:

  • What could I do to impress you in the first 3 months?
  • In the best of all possible worlds, what would you like me to accomplish in three months? In a year? In five years?
  • What makes someone successful in this organization?

Checking if you’re a good fit for the company:

  • What would the perfect employee for this job look like for you?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
  • Will I be mentored or be a mentor?

Taking an interest in the interviewer themselves:

  • How long have you worked here, and what do you like most about this organization?
  • Where would you like this company to be in five years’ time?

Generally useful questions:

  • How would you describe a typical day and week in this position?
  • What is the dress code?

Questions about the post-interview process:

  • What is the next step in this process?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?

Another good tip is to make notes throughout the interview and ask questions about specific things that were mentioned, as this shows you were attentive and are taking a real interest in the discussion you had. Whatever you ask, make sure it’s not something you should know the answer to already!

5. Follow up well

  • A thank you goes such a long way, especially for an interviewer who has spoken to dozens of candidates, and this could help you stand out from the crowd. Plus, it’s just a generally pleasant thing to do for someone who has given up their time for you.
  • Ask for feedback. This might be the most important part of the whole process. I cannot stress enough how vital this is! Regardless of whether you eventually get the job or not, feedback is invaluable for your personal and career development.
  • It’s really a win-win situation: the positive feedback will be something you can retain for future job interviews and repeat. The negative (read: constructive) feedback will tell you the things you are doing wrong, more often than not things you hadn’t even realised yourself, that are putting employers off.

Whatever you do, stay calm, focused and confident and you should do just fine. Good luck!

Job interview questions’ worst answers

When we are looking for a job, there is nothing more stressful than job interviews. Even though we prepare them, even though we train so hard not to stutter, not to get lost and to make sure that we say what we do want to say, we often leave the interview room disappointed or even felling awkward. In these kind of situation, there is a lot of pressure and you can completely lose the plot while answering a question that you prepared. There are many questions that often come back when you have to attend an interview, and you know that obviously, recruiters except you to be prepared for these, and they expect to hear a certain reply, and not something unappropriated. A very interesting article of FastCompany ranks the worst answers heard by recruiters and hiring experts to the most common questions. We are going to see what recruiters don’t want to hear from candidates when they answer these unavoidable questions, and how you should reply instead.

job interview face to face

Classic question: “Can you tell me more about yourself?”

This is generally how an interview starts. This is the question all candidates stress about, because you know have to be clear, to go straight to the point, and to show that you’re confident. You have to make it short, the recruiter doesn’t want you to go back too far and to explain that you wanted to be a pilot in middle school but that you changed your mind after a bad grade. Of course, I’m exaggerating. But you have to be aware that the interview should not just focus on that. You must not just repeat what is written on your CV.oh god who am I meme

Instead, just be yourself, tell them who you are, where do you come from, tell them what is your career path, and where you want to go. Highlight especially the reasons why you applied and why you’re here, in front of them.

Why do you want the job?

This is where you have to show that you’re the best, and that you understood what was presented during the interview. You have pressure because you have to show that you desperately want this job, without looking desperate. According to the article, it happens that some people answer that they were unable to get a job and that this is their last chance, otherwise, they won’t be able to eat… This is touching, but this might not help you.

It would be better to say that it is because you know the company, or because you think it might stimulate you, or help you reaching your careers goals. You can even say that you need a change and that this job will help you finding it.

A recruiter’s favorite: “Why do you want to work for our company?”

Sometimes, even after 20 minutes of interview, in which the recruiter told you a lot about the company’s activities, there are some candidates who admit that they don’t get them. Or there are people who said they applied because they know that the company is reputed and that they will make money.

You should say that you want to work here because the culture and especially the values of the company matches yours. And that you would be honored to give your best for the company.job interview cartoon

Thinking about where you’ll be in 5 or 10 years ?

The worst answer to this question is: “I will be running this company“. I mean, come on, we want you to be confident, of course, but can you be modest please ? And if you have no idea, which is often the case, just show the recruiters that you want to evolve professionally, that you have some ambition, and that you want your next professional mission to be a success.

Personal strengths and weaknesses

Many people use strengths as weaknesses. How many people have said, in an interview “I’m too much of a perfectionist“, or “I don’t think I have any weaknesses“… Nobody’s perfect, you know that. Try to say what your relatives think about you. Be honest, tell them your weaknesses, but also make sure you show them that you work on it. Tell them for example that you would like to take this job opportunity to work on them.job interview

So don’t be too prepared, try to understand that the recruiter doesn’t want you to fail your interview but just to see how you would respond to a certain professional situation. Do your best and make sure that in the end, once you’ve left the room, you’re satisfied with what you said. And don’t forget to ask questions too, it shows that you’re still interested after the interview.

Check out the article of FastCompany to see all the worst answers to these questions.