Purpose of the job interview is to determine whether your skills, qualifications and personal style fits the job requirements. You have to present yourself to the interview panel and convince them that you are the best candidate.
Getting an interview letter means your resume and covering letter have done their job. Second step is to have comprehensive research about the position and the organisation prior to the interview. For example objectives of the job position, where the position fits in within the organisational structure, type of technology required in the role, etc.
Prepare for possible questions that are likely to be asked for selection. One of the likely questions can be, “Can you give us some examples of where you have successfully worked as a team with others?”
Rehearse your answers
Rehearse your responses to the questions you anticipate, without over scripting the answers. Practice in front of the mirror or with a tape recorder. Listen, yourself and critically evaluate both the content and style of your answers. Better, ask a friend or family member to play role of an interviewer and listen to their suggestions. The idea is not to memorise your answers, but to become more comfortable in talking about yourself and your accomplishments
Create a positive first impression
This is same as to what you do when you first meet someone new. You gain a first impression of that person. You can often sense whether or not you are going to get along with them. First impression comes from a combination of three key things – your initial greeting, posture and your appearance / clothing.
Based upon these three things, interviewers will often form an initial impression about whether or not you are the right person for the job. While you are waiting to go into the interview room, try to relax with a positive attitude towards meeting the interviewers. View them as potential allies and greet them confidently, with politeness, smile, eye contact, clear and audible voice.
You will often be expected to shake hands with interviewers. A moderate firm handshake is desirable. Try to focus upon the names of the panel as introductions occur. Within the first three minutes, some interviewers decide whether or not you fit for the job. You must manage this period well.
Keep eye contact during the interview
Keep eye contact with all members of the panel by sweeping your eyes. Address the person who first asks the question, then vary your eye contact. This is easy when you are being interviewed by a single person. When being interviewed by a panel, be careful not to address all your answers to the one person who is smiling and nodding at you. Remember that lack of eye contact by some can be interpreted as a lack of confidence.
It is the job of a good interviewer or panel to put you at ease. Not all are so skilled. They usually understand that you are nervous as most people are. Often, in the beginning of the interview some casual conversations occurs. Take this time to allow yourself to settle into the situation and the environment, try to get at ease. They may talk with you about your hobbies, the weather, or even the traffic. Simply talk in a cordial tone when responding to the interviewer’s questions. Stay positive
Never criticise or talk badly about your previous employer even if there were any difficulties, accept your share of the responsibility and try to put the experience in as positive as possible. Remember, you are there to sell yourself. Make the interviewers ever believe that you have what it takes to succeed.
Verbosity helps no one and many people tend to go on and on … and on. This is usually because they are not confident enough to state their strengths clearly and hence tend to waffle. This also goes for use of watered down language such as, “Well, I think I can sort of do it.” Be prepared to be clear, positive and concise when describing your abilities and contributions.
You must certainly emphasise the positive, however always remain honest and truthful. Exaggeration or embellishment can come back to haunt you. When it is discovered, perhaps through some type of verification check, it throws into doubt the credibility of everything else you have presented.
Ask sensible questions
Although you are being interviewed, it should not be a one-way process. You should be speaking for perhaps 80 % of the time. To encourage a good balance, occasionally ask reflective questions such as, “Is that what you mean?‟ or “How would that work in this work area?‟
If you are stumped or confused by a question, don’t rattle off any answer that pops into your head. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Strategies include asking, “Can you rephrase that for me please?‟ or “Can I come back to that later?‟ or be frank, “I have not yet experienced this, can you outline your approach for me?‟
Be concise – observe your interviewers.
Observe your interviewers. If you have been too brief, there will be an expectation for you to continue. If you are being too verbose and going into too much detail, the interviewers may often be studying the next question.
You will often be asked a hypothetical question. Don’t get bogged down in technicalities, hypothetical questions are usually problem solving questions. Think about process, how have you solved similar problems in the past? It is likely that the same process can be applied in this hypothetical situation. If you have concrete relevant examples that serve to demonstrate your proficiency and which resemble the given scenario, it is best to offer these.
Tell us a bit about yourself
If you are asked this question early on, it is not the time to offer a detailed autobiographical history of yourself, but rather a summary of the key elements of your background that equip you with the capabilities that will benefit the position. It is time to confidently sell yourself and not be modest.
Wait for the interviewers to bring up salary or benefits
Generally, salary is not discussed until the second or “last” interview. Remember, your main focus must be on what you have to contribute to the position. It is not clever to do when a candidate prematurely starts seeking what the organisation has to offer them. However, once salary is mentioned by the interviewer it is okay to explore this. Try and wait for the interviewer to make you an offer before giving an indication of what you are expecting. If you are pressed for a figure, give a range to allow you both scope for some constructive negotiation.
When the interview is about to draw to a close
Re state your interest in the job. You might check if they have any outstanding concerns about your capabilities to do the job. This could give you a second chance to address any issues. Thank the interviewers for their time and use their names as you shake hands when you depart.
In the event that your application for the job proves to be unsuccessful, do not become dejected. The experience can prove to be extremely valuable if you are prepared to reflect upon it with the right perspective. Contact the chairperson of the interview panel and request some feedback. As unpalatable as this may seem to you at first, it may very well help you to gain the critical edge you need for your next application to succeed.
Avoid putting the person on the defensive by making them feel that you are challenging or disputing their decision, explain you want to know where the gaps are, to help you for your next interview, and then they will be far more candid with you.
Remain positive and persistent, believe that you will eventually find the job that is right for you.