April 30, 2019
You finally got the call and landed an interview for the job you’ve got your heart set on! You couldn’t have hoped for a better opportunity: this job is in line with your expectations, values and, most of all, will provide your very first pay cheque!
But before all of that, you’ll have to get through the first (but not the least) stage: the job interview, and your first one at that! Stressful? Yes, but if you prepare right, you’ll take your stress level down a few notches. Here are a few simple tips to put the odds on your side.
Learn About the Employer
Research is key. When interviewers ask you what you know about the company, they will be delighted by your answer if you did your homework. Remember to look up what the company does and learn its mission statement so the interviewer sees your interest and that you genuinely want the job, which makes a world of difference.
Plan and Practise Your Answers
You don’t have any work experience? No worries, everyone has to start somewhere. You can mention your school experiences, like your involvement in special projects or group assignments. Talk about the personal accomplishments you’re proud of. It’s much more interesting to the employer than you may think, because it’s a great way to get to know you.
Try to stand out with your answers; be original! The goal is to get the interviewer to remember you. For instance, the typical answer to the question “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” is “I’m a big perfectionist, it’s both a quality and a weakness.” An interviewer would rather hear a more personal answer, such as: “My strengths are my leadership and active listening, and I’m a fast learner. My weakness is math; I prefer working with people (if you’re applying for a customer service job). But mostly, my worst weakness is my awful singing!” By wording it this way, the weaknesses you’re stating don’t really matter for the job you’re applying for. This is reassuring for employers; it’s confirmation they’re making the right choice. Plus, it puts a smile on their face! You’re guaranteed to make a first impression the employer will remember!
Wear Appropriate Clothing… Without Going Overboard
Go for a dressy outfit; but don’t go all out in an evening gown or tuxedo! Adapt your clothes to the work environment where you’re applying. If it’s an office job, choose a more serious, professional look; if it’s in a clothing store, you’ll score some bonus points by wearing the clothes they sell.
It’s common knowledge being late looks bad. The interview is your first opportunity to show you’re punctual. It’s even better to arrive early; it’ll give you a few minutes to relax before the interview and you’ll feel calmer and more in control when the questions start.
Brag A Little
You only have a few minutes to prove your worth. Now is not the time to be shy or too humble. Even if bragging isn’t natural to you, this occasion calls for it. Highlight your strengths and skills, what people appreciate about you, what makes you unique, and so forth.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Don’t try to sell someone you’re not. Employers look for a candidate that will be able to get the job done right and that will blend in well with the team. If you’re not yourself during the interview, that could play against you later on.
At the end of the interview, ask your questions. You’re curious to know what kind of environment you’ll work in; what your team will be like; your working conditions; the next stages of the hiring process?
After the Interview
And just like that, you’ve had your first job interview experience! Went well? Happy with your answers? You can now rethink these and make adjustments. When the employer calls you back to announce if you were chosen or not, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, how they think the interview went. Interviewers are a gold mine of useful pointers to help prepare better for a next time.
Got the Job? It’s Not Over Yet!
With the current labour shortage, you have ample choice when it comes to choosing a job. It’s a privilege, but it doesn’t mean you should be careless. You still have to make a good impression. If you land your dream job and another company contacts you, recruiters will be grateful if you take a few minutes to return their call to let them know you’re no longer available. The same goes if you had other interviews scheduled: take the time to cancel. You never know what the future has in store or which companies you’ll end up working for, so play it smart by staying on good terms and keeping valuable contacts!
Elisabeth Leclerc and Marie-Céline Marchand
Human Resources team at Universitas