By Martinette van Wymeersch
You’ve landed the interview, now what?
After all the time and effort you invested in your qualifications, broadening your knowledge and investing in your capabilities, you started to seek employment. As challenging as it might have been, you overcame the obstacles, ensured that you are visible to possible employers and finally the day you have been preparing for have arrived. You received an interview request, now what?
Overview of key points to remember
Prepare yourself properly for the interview, do thorough research on the company, make sure that you know their activities, who do they supply to, how they are doing in the market etc.
Understand the content of the position. What are the core functions, who would you be reporting to and what is the purpose of the role?
Job titles can be misleading. Look at the size of the concern, for example, an Accountant in a financial division with 60 financial aids will have a much bigger responsibility than an Accountant working with 2 staff members at a small unlisted concern.
Watch your body language, are you sitting up straight or lying in your chair?
Do not chew gum, smoke before the interview and please switch off your cell phone.
Do not be unrealistic about career growth. Candidates often overemphasise growth without realising that a company operates in a specific market and cannot guarantee growth at all stages. This also connects to another rather important question for the company – “Does the candidate possess the skills they need to justify the growth they expect from this role?”
Emphasise what you can contribute to the company, what value you can add and how you will be an asset for them. Do not only focus on what is in it for you.
Do not talk about salary or benefits during the first interview. Rather ensure that you establish if the company is interested. The opportunity for remuneration discussions will most likely occur during the second interview.
Be realistic in your expectations regarding salary and the functions you will perform in this role.
It is important to obtain as much information as possible on the position, company and interview panel before the interview.
Read the job specification and ensure you prepare any relevant questions beforehand.
Research the company website i.e. their products, history, size etc. extensively and read any articles, annual reports, mission statements and policies / procedures that are available on their website.
Ensure you arrive at the interview location at least 10 – 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
Familiarise yourself with the name / title of the interviewer or interview panel that you will be meeting with. If possible, look up the background of your interviewer on LinkedIn.
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!
You should aim to come across as professional as possible, not only in your dress code but also in your grooming, the way you carry yourself and communicate.
Conduct during interview
Smile and firmly shake your interviewer’s hand.
Keep eye contact.
Do not sit down until you are offered a chair.
Do not smoke whilst on the premises.
Do not swear or use profane language during your interview.
If you are offered tea / coffee / water, graciously accept or decline.
Consider your answers to questions thoroughly.
During panel interviews, ensure you keep eye contact with all members of the panel, but directly answer each panel member the question they specifically asked you.
Do not cross your arms.
General questions to expect during interview
Tell me about yourself?
Describe yourself in the work context i.e. summarize your education / qualifications, experience and achievements that are relevant to the position you are being interviewed for.
What are your strengths?
Prepare a list of what you feel are your greatest strengths i.e. loyalty, integrity etc. before the interview and back it up with an example referring to a workplace situation.
What are your weaknesses?
Briefly describe a real weakness that wouldn’t be a major handicap in the position. Do not research answers from the internet, the interviewer will most likely have heard all of them before and this might come across in a negative manner.
How do you spend your free time?
Provide a brief description of your hobbies (preferably not “Watching TV”). This tells the interviewer about your personality and the type of person you are outside of a work environment.
What are your long-term plans and where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Ask what opportunities there are in the company and explain that you would like to acquire the skills to grow into those particular roles; be realistic without coming across as arrogant.
Additional interview tips
Always prepare a few question responses related to your previous experience using the S.T.A.R framework:
- Situation: Describe the background or context.
- Task: Describe the task or challenge you were faced with.
- Action: Explain the action you took, and how and why you did it.
- Result: Describe how it ended, what you accomplished and what you learned from the situation.
Remember to always be honest. Your answers could be checked through your references.
If you are questioned regarding a skill that you do not have, indicate that you are eager to learn about it. Reiterate your willingness to learn.
Be positive about your career and current / previous employers.
Be assertive but not arrogant.
Show that you will go the extra mile and flexible in your duties.
If you are given the opportunity to ask a question during or after the interview be very selective as you should not ask any question that might have already been covered during your interview. It must also not come across as if you are interviewing the interviewer. If you decide to ask questions, prepare, prepare, prepare! Ensure that you have done all the research you could on the company & position and prepare questions that are relevant to the position and company.
Examples of questions that you could ask during the interview (do not ask all of the questions):
- Why is this position available?
- What are the typical characteristics of your most successful employees?
- How do you measure performance?
- What type of training of you provide for this role?
- What are the career growth prospects?
- What are the challenges in this position?
Indicate your interest in the position.
Thank the interviewer for his/her/their time and give a firm handshake before leaving.
Immediately phone your Consultant and provide them with feedback on the interview.