The job hunt can be maddening and nerve-wracking. It can be difficult at times to understand what employers are looking for and how to put your best face forward. Leaderonomics has the tips you need to make that great first impression!
Do: Keep it classy
When dressing for an interview, wear tried-and-tested classics. Black, navy, white and beige are your friends. Choose light, crisp and clean tops and crease-free dark bottoms. Put on a pair of polished, sleek shoes and you are good to go.
Don’t: Use day of interview as a day to experiment
We all love to get creative and take a couple of fashion risks especially if someone else has pulled off the look. That’s awesome but the day of your big job interview is not the day to be a technicoloured, kaleidoscope of a person. There’s pros and cons to individuality and self-expression but it’s best to not isolate your interviewer with eccentric outfit choices.
Before any interview, research the company and find out their vision, goals and basic profile. Practise answering standard interview questions like:
1. Why do you want this position?
2. What can you offer in the capacity of the role you will be given?
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
4. What do you know/understand about us?
5. Tell me about yourself.
Use this research time to formulate smart questions about the applied role and the company. Interviewers often ask if you have any questions and it’s good to have one purposeful question prepared.
Don’t: Mouth off
Sometimes, interviewers may diverge from the above questions and move to non-interview related topics. Answer questions honestly but be brief and do not disclose more than necessary. Furthermore, never ask an interviewer about salary, raises and bonuses at a first interview unless they raise the issue first.
Special note: The C.A.R. Principle
When asked a question about past achievements or activities, the golden rule is to follow what’s called the C.A.R. principle: Context, Action, Result.
Context: Describe a situation and set the scene for a pertinent example. The key is to pick an example that clearly shows the skill or quality the employer is asking about.
Action: Detail what sort of action you took. Be precise about the steps and outline your rationale.
Result: Detail the results of your action. Be factual and try to quote evidence like statistics or numbers that support for claim.
Do: Treat everyone respectfully
It’s good to just not be a jerk. Period. However, if you cannot help being a jerk on a day-to-day basis, try to be warm and courteous with everyone you meet the moment you step into the building. Employers often have a rapport with their assistants, peers and even subordinates so their opinion of you could just influence the selection process.
Don’t: Be a negative nelly
Why you left a previous organisation or discontinued doing something is often asked at interviews. However, no matter how disastrous your last experience was, never bad-mouth a previous company, colleague or experience to a potential employer. It may make you seem like someone who often blames or makes excuses. Try to word yourself in a constructive and matter-of-fact way, highlighting the positive things you learnt from your experience.
Do: Let your passion show
When in an interview, always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job. Don’t shut the door in your own face, because all you do may cut your options. So express enthusiasm for the role and show interest in what the employer is saying.
Don’t: Be easily discouraged
I’m sure many of us have that, “Oh my word, why did I say that?” moment. It’s common and normal at an interview, where anxiety levels are pretty high. But that’s okay! You are human and most employers are mindful of how nervous you must be. So just take a deep breath and keep giving it your all!
Like with anything else, practice makes it better. It’s common to not ace that first ever interview or the first interview you have had in years but keep pushing. You’ve only stopped succeeding when you’ve stopped trying.
Louisa wishes she knew all this before her first big interview. What were your most awkward interview moments? Do share at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Image Matters articles, click here. For more articles by Louisa, click here.