Preparing for a job interview is probably even more important than how you perfom in the interview itself. To give your best first impression requires thought and preparation. With over nine years sitting on panels interviewing prospective candidates, I can confidently share some useful tips to help you master this critical step towards getting the job you want.
Do you know that candidates are sometimes struck off the list even before the interview starts? Read on to see what really makes you stand out from all the rest and to know what many employers are looking for.
Read the vacancy well
Not once but twice, even three times if necessary. Look out for words like organised, meticulous, integrity, interpersonal skills and attention to detail.
You cannot quantify or measure these skills – commonly known as soft skills – so you need to make sure that you can show these through your application. At the application stage, the impression you give is merely on paper or through an email. This is where many get it wrong. Attention to detail means just that. So presenting an application and CV with grammatical mistakes and poor syntax is showing you don’t have it. Meticulous means very precise which shows that your prospective employer needs you to look at those details few are able to spot. If the vacancy reads ‘interested candidates are invited to submit a handwritten application and CV’, then your application needs to be handwritten.
Research the company you are applying with thoroughly
Check the location before and see whether parking is easy to find. You should also check any security points that you need to go through as this can easily eat away from your time to arrive for the interview on time. Many candidates fail to take this into consideration. When candidates realise they are going to be late, they become agitated and flustered and this is immediately picked up by the interviewer.
Know their core business and read about their accomplishments and growth. This shows that you are actually interested in working for the company and that you have taken the time to learn about their business. Being well prepared allows you to answer the interviewer’s questions with ease.
Research their dress code. Don’t assume everyone follows a business formal dress code. Some industries, like gaming and advertising agencies adopt a more casual approach with those who deal directly with clients, following a business casual dress code. Knowing this will serve as a good guide when choosing what to wear for the interview.
Be courteous – not only in person, on paper too
I’ve read correspondence from candidates who were replying to an invitation for an interview with a suggested date and time. Sometimes, you can pick up the sense of entitlement from their reply. Be courteous on paper, when writing an email and over the phone, not only in person. You are also expected to be flexible or willing to put in the extra effort to attend the interview. Using the common ‘I am available after 5pm’ because that is the time you finish work will earn you no extra points. If you have decided to move on in your career, then consider booking half a day off.
Send an application to many employers
Sending an application and CV to a number of employers is one sure way to strike you off the list by many. This is the fastest way for you to reach out to various employers but shouts ‘I just want a job’, and that’s it. You are showing no interest in the actual company you are reaching out to. So take some time to personalise each application and increase your chance to be shortlisted.
Choose your outfit on the day
A first impression is mostly formed on the way you look and present yourself. To avoid last minute panic, prepare your outfit before the day you are scheduled to go for the interview and try on all the outfit. See that it is well coordinated and that you look put together. Remember that your overall look is not limited to your outfit and how you carry it. Don’t forget your hair, nails and shoes too. Ladies should check that their skirts do not ride up too high when they sit down. If you are going to be seated in front of a panel of interviewers, the last thing you need is to fidget with your skirt, causing a distraction.
Forget to keep note of the important details
Take a note of who you need to ask for, their contact number and any other details you may wish to read through, before the actual interview. This is especially useful if you are job hunting and have different opportunities to evaluate. It is easy to get mixed up when you are attending various interviews – so keep that small notebook with you to refresh your memory.
Blogpost takeaway: Preparation is critical to increase your chances of being shortlisted for an interview. Having said that, don’t be disheartened when you are not called in. The right one will come, in due time.