Thanks to the development of web services and the advent of job aggregators and professional networks, the recruitment and hiring landscape has certainly changed tremendously in the past decade or so.
Job hunting has become more accessible than ever before, with prospective job seekers being able to do their research without ever leaving their homes, by using websites like Jooble to get all the information they need. Moreover, applying for a job has never been easier – the potential employer’s mailbox or chat box are only a few clicks away.
On the other side of the process, recruiters and human resources personnel now have multiple tools to help them sort through resumes and filter candidate lists to get optimal results from their searches, based on categories and keywords. More recently, even Artificial Intelligence is being used, to help deal with the ever-increasing amount of information to process.
Nevertheless, even with all the latest tools and technology, the job interview is still the most crucial and most relevant part of the recruitment process. There are some key parameters that technology is still unable to gauge, because they are subjective in nature – attitude, chemistry, charisma, soft skills etc.
This is the reason interviews are here to stay for the foreseeable future, albeit most of them will be taking place remotely, via messengers and video teleconferencing software.
So how can you prepare for a job interview and ensure the successful outcome for your career plans? To help you navigate the (sometimes tricky) realities of job interviews, we have compiled this list of universal tips, from authoritative websites like The Balance Careers and The Muse, as well as our own extensive business experience:
• Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the company and/or brand, as well as the particular role that you are applying for. Do some Google searches, check social media pages and specialized websites, talk to former or present employees, maybe even try using the product or service for yourself, for a hands-on experience. This research will help you in several ways.
First and foremost, you will quickly understand if the employer is of any interest to you and if the brand/service/product is something that you can truly believe in and get behind. Second, it will show your potential employer that you are diligent and take things seriously when it comes to your professional activity. And finally, it will help you feel more confident during the interview.
• Prepare your questions. Think about what interests you about the employer and the job and write everything down. Then use this list to formulate a series of questions that you will use during the interview. Do try to aim for five to ten questions at most, since you will probably have a very limited time to ask them.
Memorize the questions – if you bring the list with you, it will look amateurish and unprofessional. By showing your interest and asking the right questions, you will demonstrate your inquisitive and pro-active side, which is always a win during an interview.
• Prepare your answers as well. By doing some basic research on the topic, you will quickly discover that most of the questions asked by employers during interviews fall under several common categories and are very similar in their essence, even though the wording might differ from one case to another. This refers to questions like “Why do you want to work for us?” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
There is a high likelihood that these so-called “standard” questions will be put to you as well. Aside from this, some questions about a specific role include interview questions for leaders. It will greatly help you to have one or several role-play sessions during which you practice your answers to each type of question – you will build confidence and be able to give quick, well-formulated answers when it counts.
• Practice your body language. This is one of the most important parts of preparing for an interview. An appropriate body language can make all the difference between total success and utter failure. Make sure that you get in the habit of standing tall with your shoulders straight, having a positive and friendly demeanour, shaking hands firmly when given the chance and maintaining eye contact throughout the whole conversation.
• Look at the part. Your personal image is very important, especially during interviews. Depending on the company and role, do your best to identify the dress code that is expected of you and adhere to it strictly. Once again, this will show seriousness, preparedness, and dedication on your part. Plus, it always feels great to look good.
• Be on time and be prepared. The golden rule here is to arrive early, but not too early – ideally ten minutes before the interview starts. Make sure you go to the restroom right before the interview, to avoid unpleasant surprises, and turn off your cell phone before entering. Have two copies of your resume at the ready, as well as a pen and paper for taking notes. Politely refuse any standard offers of refreshments or food – the interviewer is not interested in watching you eat or drink.
• Be open-minded, honest, and polite. These personal traits are always sought-after by recruiters and employers. Do not refuse any job-related offers from the get-go – take some time to appraise and evaluate them instead. Never lie during an interview – your lies will inevitably be exposed in the future, doing damage to you as well as to your employer.
Besides, by being honest about your experience and about your expectations, you will build a healthy foundation for your future relationship with the employer. And last, but not least, being polite is a quality that is becoming rarer by the day, which makes it highly appreciated by employers and colleagues alike.