So you’ve made it through the screening process and are now ready for the interview. How you handle yourself in the interview is one of the deciding factors for whether you land the job. Here’s a guide to what a hiring manager would typically look for in an ideal candidate:

Be Punctual

Tardiness sends a negative signal to the potential employer and can put you at a serious disadvantage. Make sure you are clear about the exact location and how you plan to get there. If unforeseen delays occur, it is best to call in advance rather than simply arrive late.

Look Smart

It is important to look the part as first impressions tend to stick. Choose your outfit the night before and be subtle with make-up, hair grooming and perfume. Additionally, switch your mobile phone to silent mode to avoid embarrassing interruptions during the interview.

Be Mentally Prepared

Most interviews head in one of two directions:

  • The interviewer will describe the company and job to you, or how your role will fit into the bigger picture. The advantage is that it allows you to settle down and gain an idea about your interviewer’s personality. The disadvantage is that new information may emerge which you might be expected to incorporate in your responses.
  • The interviewer will put you on the spot right away by asking what makes you the best qualified candidate for the position and why you are keen on joining the company. This requires you to immediately establish a rapport to leave an impact. On the plus side, it provides an invaluable opportunity to sell yourself straight away.

Basic Interview Questions

The good news is that you can usually prepare in advance for some questions you would typically be asked. You don’t want to be caught off guard so it pays to have answers ready for the classic ones:

“Tell me about yourself”

This is considered an ice-breaker and most people are challenged by this as it encompasses so many aspects. The ideal approach would be to focus on those facets of your background that are explicitly relevant for the position

“What were your responsibilities in your last job and why did you leave?”

Most interviewers would look for a connection between your most recent position and their requirement. This is the time to highlight your transferable skills and the contributions you made. Be tactful about your reason for leaving and mention what you had liked best about your last place of employment.

“Why should we hire you?”

This can be a game-changer, so beware. It’s advisable not to give a generic answer like “I’m the best candidate for the job”. Instead, talk about how you would make a significant contribution. Again, be specific.

“What are your weaknesses?”

Answering this question can be tricky. You can’t honestly say that you have no weaknesses; neither can you beat yourself up. Instead, be brief and candid. Put a positive spin on your Achilles’ heel by stating how you have learned to work around it.

“What is your salary expectation?”

Generally, it’s better not to bring up this subject on your own, as the recruiter can go over the salary details with the employer if your application moves forward. Still, it is important to know your “market value”, based on which most companies will decide compensation. If the employer raises the issue, an easy way out is to simply state your current package, as a benchmark of sorts

Follow Up

Always write a thank-you note after an interview, even if you feel it did not go well. Say that you look forward to discussing the opportunity further. In case you are unsuccessful, try to ask for feedback. It can prove to be precious advice for your future applications. Don’t lose heart; use your mistakes as stepping stones to success.

Interview Techniques

The aim of the interview is to showcase your suitability for the vacancy. Remember that not only is honesty the best policy but it will also save you a lot of trouble in the future, so stick to the truth.

  • Research the company. Networking sites like LinkedIn are a boon for candidates. If you know the name of your interviewer, look them up on the internet to glean useful information. Employers appreciate candidates that are well-informed.
  • Know your CV inside out and be prepared to elaborate on specifics. Try to demonstrate tangible evidence of your achievements by having facts and figures at hand.
  • Link your responses to actual experiences and use examples to describe how you dealt with various situations. Answer concisely unless the interviewer asks you to give details.
  • As a rule, always be polite, enthusiastic and use a positive tone to describe your career history.
  • Never criticize previous employers or colleagues harshly, as that will portray you as a grumbler. It may also lead the employer to imagine that one day you would talk about them in a similar tone.
  • Listen attentively and don’t interrupt – wait for the interviewer to finish talking before you start replying.
  • Think of some questions to ask the interviewer. This reflects your interest in the company and your prospective role. Take care not to come across as too demanding or throw the interviewer off. Write down your questions if you feel you might forget.

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