six tips to impress at the next job interview

imageHundreds of people will apply for a job that you are interested in, and many will be shortlisted for the interview. How will you stand out from the other applicants? Whether you are interviewing for a big corporation or a smaller startup, every interview follows a similar flow. Interviews are stressful, but if you prepare and practice, you can make the process easier for yourself. Here are a few practical tips to help you through your next interview.

preparation is key:

Find out everything you can about the company and the position that you are interviewing for. Look online for information about the company – you can check the company website, industry association websites, news articles, and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). Do you know anyone who works there? If so, ask them about the company as well. Interviewers sometimes ask questions just to see if you do know much about the company. This will tell them if you’re really interested in the job.

Your research may also give you a better idea of what they are looking for in an ideal candidate. As far as the position goes, you may or may not find information on-line, but do study the job posting and the job description thoroughly to get an idea of what the employer will be expecting. Researching the company and the job profile will prepare you for whatever questions the interviewer may ask you.

Always bring a copy of your resume with you. If the interviewer has misplaced her copy, you will save time by giving her another copy. Carry any other documents (portfolio, letters of appreciation etc), that you think might be useful to have on hand.

list your strengths and reasons why you are a good fit for the job:

Prepare a list of three to four ‘selling points’ that make you stand out. For example you can list your strong communication skills, or your leadership skills – with appropriate examples from previous jobs. Be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want the job – what interests you about it, what you feel you will get from the role, and what qualities and abilities you have that are required for the role.

prepare your own questions for the interviewer:

Most interviewers expect a candidate to have questions about the company and the position Prepare a few intelligent questions regarding the company, the market potential, the company’s roadmap for growth, and expectations the company will have from you. Your interviewer will always ask you if you have any questions, if you don’t, he or she may conclude that you are not really interested in the job.

the 7/11 rule – first impressions:

There is an old saying “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression”. Studies have shown that people will decide as many as 11 qualities of another person within 7 seconds of meeting. This could range from honesty and integrity to status and education. This is called the 7/11 rule and some psychologists call is ‘thin slicing’. You can make a good first impression by dressing appropriately – keep it smart, neat, subdued, and simple; arriving well ahead of time; and greeting the interviewer confidently and with courtesy.

show that you will go after growth

It is important to highlight your professional growth to the interviewer. A common question in interviews will be about a challenging experience you have had and what you learned from it. Openly discussing challenges, successes and failures demonstrates mindfulness, self-awareness and an ability to learn from experience and grow. You should be ready with examples of how you contributed to the growth and development of your team in a previous role.

practice, practice, practice

imageEven if you have prepared answer to a question like “Why should we hire you?” it is still a challenge to say your answer out loud in a convincing way. However well you have written out your answers, you should practice saying the answers out loud until you sound clear and convincing. Do try this with a friend or with someone in your family.

If you have come to the end of the interview and you really like the sound of the job and the company, be audacious and ask for the job! Tell your interviewer that you are excited about the job and you would really like to work in the company. Lastly – don’t forget to send a thank you note or email after every interview. Customize your note by referring specifically (and concisely) to the discussions you had, and make sure you send it within 48 hours of the interview.