How to get the job: 10 habits of a successful interviewee
Your glowing credentials, winning public profile, brilliant references and stellar endorsements on careers websites have impressed and you find yourself preparing to meet your employer of choice, face-to-face, with a little anxiety and a lot of excitement.
Chances are they have a well-studied list of questions to ask you, and very clear expectations of what they would like to hear from you, so how do you make sure you continue to impress them, and land the job you want?
Here are a few tips and some practical advice to help you nail the interview.
1. Be prepared
Before your interview, make sure that your CV is up-to-date, free of any language mistakes, customised, accurate and professional. Always have a hard copy of your CV handy during an interview that the employer can reference, and a portfolio of your previous work if this is relevant to your role and industry.
2. Be punctual
Being on time is extremely important to create a good impression. Look at the directions ahead of time and leave early, in case you get lost or need to look for parking. Arrive before the stipulated time so that you can acquaint yourself with the office and environment. It is very important to respect everyone’s time, especially the hiring manager. This shows that you are considerate, respectful and professional.
3. Be professional
Appearance matters. A Bayt.com “Influence of physical appearance on hiring decisions” poll revealed that 76.4 percent of MENA professionals believe that employers make a decision based on a candidate’s physical appearance. So it is important to dress the part, abide by the interview dress code and neither overdress nor underdress. Research a company’s culture ahead of time and assess their dress code. Remember, if you are unsure, you can never go wrong with a classic outfit. Feeling well-dressed goes a long way in making you feel like you already belong.
4. Be knowledgeable
Research, research, research! The worst thing that could happen in the interview is blanking out on a question, or “uh-ing” and “umm-ing” consistently. Before the interview, do your homework and learn about the company, make sure you know your CV, experience and achievements like the back of your hand. Get insights about the current state of the market. About 20 percent of companies in the Middle East find poor preparation to be the most common mistake jobseekers make in an interview, as stated in Bayt.com “Hiring practices in MENA” poll. Research the company, know their mission, vision and culture, be well versed in the products and/or services they provide and take note of keywords they used in the job description, to integrate into your answers during the interview.
5. Be confident
Answer all the questions professionally and honestly emphasizing what you bring to the role, and detail what makes you uniquely qualified for it. Support your answers with relevant and concrete examples of past achievements. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself to the employer – you have worked hard to get to where you are and there is no harm in showing that.
6. Be passionate
Your attitude can make or break the interview. Employers look for hunger, ambition and drive as the most important factors when making a hiring decision. Looking bored or tired, or displaying a lack of interest during the interview will work against you. Show sincere interest in the company and role by researching ahead of time and make the interview about them, not about yourself. Give concrete examples of what they currently do and mention what you hope to bring to the company, what value you can add, how you can be an asset for the company in the short and long term and how you think you can help it grow and succeed.
7. Be brief
Stay focused. Remember that the employer is busy and has time constraints. Also remember that they are interested in the exact skills and experience that you have and that will contribute to the requirements of the specific role, so be brief and to-the-point. Though it may be tempting to give insight into who you are as a person outside of work, avoid bringing up your personal life, politics, religion or any other controversial topics that are off-track. Don’t stray from the questions asked and keep your answers honest, factual and professional.
8. Be positive
Whether it was the last boss or team or company you were somewhat dissatisfied with, you should be positive during all aspects of the interview. The interview with a potential next employer should not be a license to air all your negative feelings or grievances about them. No one likes disloyalty and recruiters are very wary of negative people, specifically employees who cannot be trusted with company secrets and the reputation of their brand and coworkers.
You also need to remember that everyone makes mistakes. Should you stumble with a particularly difficult question, you can quickly recover. The secret is not to make a big issue out of a bad or outright wrong answer but to quickly take stock of what went wrong, regain composure, then refocus and move on to the next question.
9. Be curious
Job interviews are a two-way street and you should be interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you. You both need to walk away convinced that the job would be an ideal fit. Have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer to show you are interested in the company’s strategic direction and in your ability to impact that positively and optimally. This will help you stand out from other candidates, confirm your qualifications for the position and of course, help you decide whether it is actually an organization which you would enjoy working at. Make sure your questions are intelligent and relevant, to show diligence as well as true interest in the work. These questions should always come directly from your research of the employer, and should be open ended questions, that elicit a full response, and not simple “yes-no” answers. These can be anything from questions about why your interviewer enjoys working at the company, to questions about how things are and have been run in the past.
10. Be polite and pleasant
People like to work with people who are pleasant and personable and whom they admire, respect and trust. Soft skills are paramount and all the credentials and technical skills in the world cannot compensate for a poor temperament or a bad attitude. Treat others as you like to be treated, be sincere, respectful and professional at all times. Maintain a courteous demeanor throughout the interview, watch out for your body language, smile often and sincerely, and show enthusiasm. After the interview is over, be sure to send a “thank you” letter, to both reiterate your interest in the role, and to remain top of mind with the employer in a favorable way.
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