Preparing for a job interview is one of the most exciting yet challenging times in your whole career journey. It is a crucial step that requires careful planning and thorough preparation to increase your chances of success and landing the job you want. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a fresh graduate, navigating through the job interview process can be overwhelming.
Finding a new job is already hard enough and feeling unprepared for your big day can make it even more stressful. You would not want to look like you’re fumbling for an answer during the job interview which makes you look unprepared and inexperienced. By investing time and effort in the right strategies, you can bolster your confidence and enhance your performance during the interview.
Here are 4 effective strategies to stand out in an interview and make a positive impression on your future employer.
1. research and know the company before an interview
Before going for a job interview, it is important to do some preliminary research on the company you applied for. This will give you important information on the organisation’s values, culture and work environment. You will also learn about the company’s new product launches or workforce changes from their recent corporate announcements, which can help you decide if you really want to work for the organisation or not. It is important to read and understand the job description to have a clear understanding of the position you are applying for to avoid any potential difficulties during the interview.
Knowing the company’s background and company updates can also guide you in tailoring your interview responses, as well as prepare any relevant questions you may have regarding the role, team or culture. It will give the interviewer or hiring manager a good impression if you have prior knowledge about the company before they explain it to you further during the interview process.
Your proactiveness will show your potential employer that you are an ideal candidate who is genuinely interested in the opportunity, and it can make the difference between securing your dream job and missing out on an incredible position.
begin your research on the company’s website
The company’s website is a great place to find the latest information about their business, clients and the industry it operates in.
Pay close attention to their ‘About Us’ and ‘Join Our Team’ pages for insights on their company’s history, ethos, HR policies, hiring processes and people whom you may work with. You can explore their website news sections, press releases, career page and read their blogs to gain further information, and conduct a Google search to uncover additional details.
The website provides information on the company’s products or services and its target customer pools. Some companies, especially those in healthcare and technology, will also share their products pipeline on their website, which can be very exciting for candidates who want to work on the latest projects. The knowledge you gain about their company will in turn help you prepare and answer any situational question that might pop up, as well as increase your comfort level and confidence during the interview.
check the company’s linkedin and social media accounts to gauge culture fit
LinkedIn is an invaluable platform to source information on companies and their workforce. Managed by the marketing & communications team, LinkedIn offers up-to-date information on the company’s recent commercial activities such as new products and services.
Companies also often use LinkedIn to feature employee testimonials, photos and videos that can offer a peek into what it’s like to work for them. These visual aids can give you a sense of the company’s work culture, values and its employees’ current or previous experiences so you can decide if this is the right culture that you can thrive in.
On LinkedIn, you can also find out who’s who in the management team and connect with them on the platform. Take the time to browse their profiles to learn the leaders’ past achievements, passions and pain points. You’ll be able to ascertain whether your values are aligned and if you’re able to work under the company’s leadership direction.
2. prepare a list of interview questions and answers
Prepare a list of common interview questions to ask and answer to demonstrate your genuine interest to secure the job. This helps you consider your key points, strengths and weaknesses, your suitability for the role and come up with better impressive answers. Additionally, this also allows the hiring manager or interviewer to evaluate your communication skills during the interview.
However, do not feel disheartened if you are asked a difficult question during your actual interview as it is impossible to equip yourself with answers to every question under the sun. When in this situation, you can always ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify the question to buy you some time on how you should formulate your response. Instead of just saying “I don’t know”, ask the interviewer how you should deal with it and take note of when facing similar situations. This demonstrates your willingness to learn, even in new and challenging situations.
Being prepared will help you remain calm, collected and confident, so that you will leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. Here are the most commonly asked interview questions and answers.
5 common interview questions employers ask
1. what is your greatest strength and weakness?
Make sure to not oversell yourself when talking about your strengths as that can sometimes be off putting to some interviewers. Focus on your achievements and talk about the actions you’ve taken to get the results. When it comes to weaknesses, it is important to concentrate on the areas for improvement and the actions you have taken to address them.
2. why should we hire you?
This is one of the most common interview questions. Even though the interviewer is indeed looking for someone to fill the role, they are trying to assess what makes you different from the rest of the job candidates. Take this time to talk about your professional experience and achievements, skills and qualifications, as well as passions and motivations.
3. how do you work under pressure?
If you are a pro at working in a stressful environment, describe how you have managed those situations using real case scenarios. However, not everyone can work under pressure.
If you need to improve in this area, it's important to communicate to the interviewer that you are open to learning from their expertise and following best practices.
4. where do you see yourself in five years?
While this is no longer a typical question, you should nonetheless prepare your responses for it. It would be advantageous for you to set attainable goals.
Focus on your skills development and map out your long-term career goal in attainable milestones. You can also ask the interviewer how they can help you support your journey towards achieving your five-year career goal.
5. tell me about a challenge that you faced and how you overcame it
Interviewers ask this question because they want to assess how you navigate difficult situations and your personality traits. Prepare a past incident where you were stuck on a project or have to work with a difficult vendor or colleague, and give details about how you overcame the challenges and what you’ve learned from your previous experiences. Doing so highlights your willingness to learn from new work scenarios.
smart questions to ask in a job interview
Besides preparing for the job interview questions, you should also write down a list of questions that you would like to ask the interviewer. The responses to these questions should help you make a decision of whether the job and company is the right fit for you. At the same time, by setting expectations right from the get go, you are demonstrating your sincere interest in the job opportunity and to work for the company.
Here are 4 good questions to ask in an interview:
- Is this a new role or will I be taking over from an employee who is leaving?
- What are the most important projects or tasks you’d like to see me accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
- How big is the team and what are their responsibilities?
- What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
3. dress appropriately
Dressing appropriately for your job interview is critical as it sets up your first impression to your interviewer. As they say, you can never get a second chance at a first impression. So make it count!
Proper attire indicates professionalism and preparedness for the job interview. Wearing casual clothes like graphic t-shirts and shorts, even for remote work jobs, sends the wrong message that you are not interested at all.
4. follow-up after a job interview
Congratulations on completing your job interview! However, the battle isn’t over just yet as you still need to engage with your potential employer after the interview process.
More often than not, interviewees overlook the importance of post-interview etiquette which can differentiate them from others. Here are some post-interview best practices you should put into practice.
write down what were the key points from the interview
While the interview is still fresh in your mind, you should write down any key points or unexpected and tough questions that you couldn’t answer fully. On the off chance that there might be a second interview round, you will be better able to handle similar questions.
Remember to also take note of the things you didn’t have the opportunity to share with your interviewer so that you can bring them up during the second interview. Conversely, if it’s your final interview, you could include them in your message thanking your interviewer for their time and consideration.
send a thank you message to your interviewer
Sending a message thanking your interviewer shows a high degree of professionalism and gratitude for the time spent for the interview. It also provides you with an opportunity to put you on the top of your interviewer’s inbox and reinforces your interest in the position.
You can send your thank you message through an email and remember to be clear and concise and send it within 24 hours after the interview.
After a nerve-wrecking interview, it is natural to feel anxious and want an immediate response. However, remaining level-headed and patient are traits that interviewers will also be looking out for. So take time for yourself too!
If your interviewer has given you a timeframe of when they’ll make their decision, be sure to follow-up if you did not receive an update from them after the date has passed. If you have not heard back from the interviewer after two weeks, you can start applying for other jobs to increase your chances of securing a role within your timeframe.
By implementing all these best practices and techniques, you'll significantly increase your chances of success during the interview process.
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