how to handle a job interview (6 tips)

Job interview tips.

You want the job, you’ve got an interview…what next?

Applying for a job can be a time-consuming process, so if you’re shortlisted, you want to give yourself the best chance possible.

Check out these tips. Nothing earth-shattering. Just some basic, common-sense stuff.

1. do your homework

A few years ago, a colleague applied for a job that involved competing against hundreds of people through various tests and exercises over several weeks.

They made it to the final stage of the selection process, and were told that – if they could get through one last interview – there was a job waiting for them.

They were given a strategy to look at beforehand, and told they’d be asked questions about it. They flicked through the document, but didn’t absorb the detail…and were left stumped during the interview. They didn’t get the job.

Lesson learnt. Always prepare.

Some things to consider…

- Be clear about what the job entails. Take another look at the job description, advertisement and any other supporting documents.

- Learn what you can about the employer. Do they have a website? Have they been in the news recently? What products and services do they offer? What trends are affecting their industry?

- Take another look at your application form. What did you say about yourself? How can you back up your claims in interview? What examples of past work or experience could you use to help illustrate the strengths you described?

- Prepare physically. Get a good night’s sleep, so you feel fresh and alert on the day.

2. look the part

It’s a cliché, but first impressions count. So dress appropriately.

If you’re intending to wear that shirt at the bottom of the laundry basket, make sure it’s washed and ironed beforehand.

Not every interview requires you to turn up suited and booted. It depends on the job and the employer.

But it’s generally a good idea to look presentable, neat and tidy. You don’t want to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed.

3. manage your nerves

Nerves can choke you up. And it happens to the best of us – even people who are usually confident in those situations.

It’s natural to feel excited, but if you feel like your nerves could affect your performance, try these tips…

- Stand-up instead of sitting down when you’re waiting to be called into the interview room.

- Don’t talk too quickly. Don’t be afraid to pause or slow the tempo of your speech.

- Control your breathing. Keep it calm and steady.

- If your hands are shaking, try tensing your thigh muscles – it helps (apparently)!

4. think about body language

Nerves can affect body language, and the wrong body language can give the wrong impression.

Clenched fists, a fixed stare or a puffed-out chest can all be driven by nerves or an effort to appear confident, but can make you look aggressive or cocky. Not good.

Try to look friendly and professional…

- Shake hands with your interviewers.

- Smile where appropriate (and don’t scowl or frown – even if the questions are tough).

- Wait till you’re offered a seat.

- Listen. Don’t interrupt. Show that your focused on what they’re saying.

- Let them see your hands. Hands can be expressive and make you look more engaged when you talk.

5. ask questions

Most interviewers will give you a chance to ask questions – usually at the end.

It’s good to ask questions. It shows you’re fully engaged in the interview and interested in the employer. Maybe you could ask what the organisation’s major opportunities or challenges are at the minute? Or something like that.

You can also structure questions in a way that help underline your strengths. “In my current role I’ve found x, y and z to be effective – do you think those techniques could work here too?” Something like that.

Try to prepare a couple of questions beforehand, so you’ve got something in the locker if other questions don’t come to mind during the interview.

6. leave on a positive note

Whether you think the interview went well or not, make sure you leave them with a positive vibe.

Thank them for their time. Look like you’ve enjoyed the experience (even if it was tough) and say you look forward to hearing from them.

Human beings are funny creatures, and if you give the impression you weren’t happy with your performance, that could influence your interviewers’ thinking.

One final thing. Although most of the ideas above might be about managing how you look, sound and act in an interview, you should still be yourself.

Be authentic. After all, people hire people…not resumes.

Good luck…and may the force be with you.

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