Regardless of how professional or experienced you are, when you are trying to get a promotion in your own company, or a post in another organisation, being totally prepared for the job interviews is critical.
Your expertise, knowledge, reputation, experience, and appearance, will help you, but it is extremely likely that the other candidates will have identical attributes at the job interviews.
Here is set of actions that you should execute in order to be fully prepared for the job interviews. Gather information about the hiring organisation (this includes your present employer if it is an internal interview): before you decide whether to attend the interview, it is crucial that you gather information about the organisation and review this.
You need information on its recent and forecast performance, the health of the organization sector in which it operates, and the post that it is offering. If the organisation and sector are healthy, and the post appears secure and has potential, then you can certainly move on to the next stage. If your discoveries are negative then it is almost certain that the best decision would be to reject the opportunity.
You need to gather information about the condition of yourself, looking at how your personal and career plans are progressing, concentrating on how the prospects in your current work match with your personal and career objectives, and then how the new post could seriously help to achieve those objectives.
Decide to attend or not to attend the interview. It is advisable to make an objective decision as to whether taking up this new post is the right decision for you, at this time. Armed with the information that you collected earlier, you can assess the merits of being appointed to the new position, against staying in your current post, albeit perhaps until a more appropriate opportunity arises, and make your decision confidently.
It is, obviously, tempting to apply for a job which appears to offer a higher salary, more responsibility, more status, and new directions, and if this is so appealing that you are confident that you could adjust your development plans to match it, and be happy with that decision, then yes, attend the interview and perform to the best of your ability.
On the other hand, be warned that the interviewers may well reject you because it will become obvious to them that the position they are offering is not a natural fit with your career to date, and worse, they may well ask you how this new opportunity fits with your future personal development plans, and be disappointed with your unconvincing response.
Obtain details of the job itself. You need as much details as you can gather about the nature of the job, the role, responsibilities, reporting relationships, location of the workplace, working conditions, and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays, and corporate policies and procedures that apply to the position.
Some of this information will be given to you in the information pack sent to you by the interviewing organisation, or department, but frequently, sadly, the quality of information sent out is low-quality. Most professional organisations will have HR departments that will answer your questions on these issues, or pass you on to the appropriate line manager.
Study the interview format: you need to do some basic but essential research on the practicalities of the job interviews. Again, some of this information will be sent to you. You need to be clear about: how to get to the organisation and the specific interview location (don’t rely on asking for this information when you arrive, as this adds to the stress of the occasion); who is on the interview panel (their titles will give you important clues as to their associations to the post); what style the interview will take (there is nothing worse than arriving expecting a traditional face-to-face interview and finding that it is a day-long series of tests, group activities, and job interviews).
Timing of arrival. Make sure that you arrive in good time, allowing time to tidy your physical appearance after your trip, and sufficient time to become relaxed prior to the actual interview.
Your appearance. Do not make the error of thinking that it is only your history, qualifications, skills, and knowledge that will win you the job. Most other applicants will have similar attributes, so you need to make an impression, to look professional, smart, and appropriate for the post. In many cases, there will have been a previous holder of the post that the interviewers may be using, albeit subconsciously, as a benchmark.
You can not guess what the interviewers want, or don’t want, in terms of physical appearance and personality, but don’t for one second believe anyone that tells you this doesn’t matter (it shouldn’t, perhaps, in certain circumstances, but you are being invited into their world, and they will be looking for someone who they will be comfortable with (even if the role requires you to be an aggressive change-agent).
Yes, in some countries there is legislation that says the job should be offered to the most appropriate person, regardless of appearance, but in real world this isn’t what happens. The answer to this dilemma is to research the culture of the organisation that you are connecting to, so that you are aware of how people, in positions similar to the one you are being interviewed for, dress and behave, and you can comment on or ask questions about this during the interview.
However, don’t go to the interview in jeans and t-shirt, even if that’s the day to day standard. You need to look as professional, as serious about obtaining the job, as possible. For men, that almost certainly means a business suit, or jacket and trousers, with or without tie. For females, a business suit or business dress. For both sexes, smart-casual can be acceptable, if, but only if, it is that type of environment.
In most situations, for most posts on offer to professionals, specialists, managers, experts, consultants, a business outfit is expected at the interview, even if, after appointment, they would never again expect you to come to work in anything remotely as formal.
Your approach. In a word, think positively. You are presenting your talents, your experience, your time, effort, and energies, to this organisation, and you need to give the impression that you would be a valuable asset that they would be foolish to reject. This doesn’t mean being aggressive, over enthusiastic, pompous, or pretentious, but it does mean showing the interviewers that you are a confident, assertive, pro-active, flexible, professional who would perform successfully if appointed.
Prepare for, and practice answering, the interview queries: think about questions that you are likely to be asked. Brainstorm this with a colleague, friend, or partner, and practice answering. Practice using the interview questions to strengthen your argument that you are the best person to get the job.
For example, you will be almost certainly be asked about your experience and qualifications, even though this will be shown in your CV. Your response should be phrased in such a way that you relate your experience, knowledge, and qualifications, to the role and responsibilities of the new post, showing how these existing attributes will give you the confidence and skills to successfully handle the tasks that lie ahead.
With luck you will not be asked questions such as – What do you think are the main benefits that you could bring to this job, if appointed? However, it still happens, so you must be prepared for them. Again, practice responding in a way which links your experience and existing skills to the demands of the new role.
If you are asked – What would you say are your biggest strengths and worst weaknesses? then talk mostly about your strengths, giving examples of how these have been effectively used, and be very, very careful talking about your alleged weaknesses. Choose a relatively harmless weakness that could be interpreted as a strength, such as being over-zealous about quality criteria being met, or insisting on deadlines being met which can upset some team members.
Don’t, under any circumstances, negatively criticise your present or past employers, or colleagues. Even if the organisation that you work for is known to have faults or bad practices, don’t criticise it or any personnel within it. This is almost always a fatal mistake. You will usually be asked some questions about the interviewing company.
Again, use these as an opportunity to show you have researched the organisation, but also to explore what the organisation is planning (at least in the area that you will be working in), and-or what they are expecting of you. To illustrate, you could mention new markets that the organisation has recently entered and ask if that will impact on the post that you are being interviewed for. In case you are asked about hobbies and interests, don’t give a list of twenty, keep it simple and don’t try to impress with esoteric hobbies that you don’t actually have.
Imagine saying that you enjoy watching French films and then being asked a question about this, in French, by one of the interviewers who is fluent in the language!
Questions asked by you. Most job interviews will close with the interviewee being asked if they have any questions to ask. The answer should always be – Yes. Have two questions ready, and either ask these or ask one of them and one that has arisen because something raised in the job interviews.
Make sure that your job interviews questions are ones that reinforce your suitability for the position. You could, for example, ask questions about personal development opportunities, explaining, briefly, what you feel would be a potentially useful development activity (of benefit to you and to the organisation) if you were to be offered the post (this should be an area that you have considered whilst researching the organisation and the job itself).
General behaviour: remember, you are being assessed at all times, quite possibly from when you enter the building and approach the receptionist, certainly from the moment you walk into the interview room to the moment you leave.
You must be as natural and relaxed, physically and mentally, as possible, but also professional, polite, and courteous. Under no circumstances argue, unless you have been given a direct instruction to give your opposing views.
Be alert, show an interest in each interviewer as the ask questions, and answer directly to that person, but occasionally look at the others during your answer. In answering questions, don’t be evasive, be confident, and use your answers to demonstrate how you would make a good match for the position on offer.
Final word. As the interview ends, thank the interviewers for their time and questions. Declare you would be very pleased if appointed to the job and that you look forward to hearing from them. In case you have doubts at that moment, this is a courteous and wise way to end the interview. You may afterwards decide that you would like the job and if you have appeared negative as the interview ended you will have reduced your chances considerably.
In summary, the key to being successful at the job interviews is to treat it as a project that needs to be planned and executed in as professional a manner as possible. Changing careers, moving into a new position, changing organisations, changing the direction of your career, perhaps moving into a different business sector, leaving behind friends and colleagues, meeting, working with, managing, new co-workers, is a major change in your life.
Remember there is also different strategy. You can also start your home based business online. You will be your own boss so there will be no stress attached and bigger earning possibilities. Check one of my webinars / hangouts about Modere and Shifting Retail here.
The interview is your doorway into a new world, into the next stage of your personal development. It is a main event, a major opportunity, and must be treated as one.