How to prepare for an interview
People tend to feel anxious regarding the prospect of an interview. These feelings are normal. After all, no one enjoys being tested.
However, there are a few things that might help you prepare for an interview.
Make sure to prepare yourself. Learn your CV by heart: the main projects, your motivations, what you learnt in each project and how you can apply the learnt skills to other projects, and if you believe you could have done anything better.
Also, chances are you will be asked why you left, if there were any conflicts with former co-workers or hierarchies.
Remember: no matter how bad your experience was, never badmouth a previous company, as the new one will be imagining you will do the same to them. Instead, consider saying how your career goals changed, or how you felt you were no longer learning and growing personally and professionally in that company and how it was time to take on a new challenge.
Think about what might be interesting in the new company and in the new role. Get acquainted with the company you'll be interviewed for, and also the role you applied to. Think about how what you learnt in past workplaces can be applied to this new role and use this as a guide throughout the interview.
If you are applying to a company in a different city (or even country) that implies a longer commute or even moving, be prepared to clarify your choice. It might be interesting to learn a little about the city or country you'd be working in and use that knowledge to your advantage.
Now that you've made your homework, it's time for your interview.
Keep in mind that the recruiter is not the big bad wolf. Engage with the person in front of you (or on the other side of the screen or of the phone).
Present yourself in a polite and friendly way. Be positive and adopt a confident posture and tone of voice.
If you're on the phone or, for example, on Skype or Hangouts, make sure the recruiter is listening properly. If you're being interviewed by someone that doesn't speak the language properly or has an accent hard to understand, avoid embarrassing them. Ask them, politely, to repeat and excuse yourself with a bad connection, for example.
Adopt a fluid, coherent speech and show them you are comfortable explaining your work experience (for example, if you're a software developer, show them you are comfortable explaining the technologies you've been working with and how you're been working with them).
Try to maintain a straight posture (avoid slouching) and to adopt a positive facial expression (a smile or half a smile, for example). Trust me -- it will show even on the phone.
Try to control your tone of voice and be attentive to nervous signs (for example, talking too fast, or lowering your tone of voice, which you can control by drinking a bit of water, as it'll allow you to make a brief pause, to breathe and to gather your thoughts), as well as to language vices (saying 'OK', or using 'hmmm' or 'ermm' too often).
Always keep in mind that non-verbal communication is as important if not more, than the verbal communication and, if what you say verbally is in disagreement with what you say non-verbally, you could be hurting your chances of landing that job.
Make sure to listen actively to the recruiter. Listen to the full questions before replying. Do not interrupt the recruiter, maintain your focus and respect the interview steps (recruiters usually will start by walking you through the whole interview right before they start).
Reply to what you're being asked in a straightforward, direct and concise way. Be honest but don't be too transparent. Our mind' social filters/censors should still be alive and kicking throughout the interview.
If possible, take notes as they might be helpful should you be given the opportunity to also ask questions of your own. But remember to ask first if it's OK for you to do so.
Be honest, always. Never say you know what you don't know, as it will show. Instead, show interest in learning and try, whenever possible, to associate with what you already have experience with. For example, if you're applying to a sales position you might not have had experience with SalesForce CRM, but you might be a seasoned user of HubSpot CRM or any other CRM solutions in the market.
Make your strengths your biggest allies and provide concrete examples. For that, you could use, for example, the STAR method, as it might be helpful.
S - Situation (the context, the where and the when)
T - Task (the challenge and expectations)
A - Action (what did you do and how did you react)
R - Result (your accomplishments, how you solved the situation)
If you have the opportunity to ask a few questions of your own, make sure to reinforce your motivation and interest in the position. You could, for example, ask questions such as
- What are the company's values? Could you please give me a few examples of how they apply on a daily basis?
- Would it be possible for you to tell me more about the team I'll be working with?
- How can I start preparing for the new role?
- What is the biggest issue in the company and how can I help you solve it once I fill the position?
- What are the next steps of the recruitment process?
Always remember that an interview, a recruitment process is a two way street. Think of it as courtship, as the beginning of a relationship. You are trying to woo the company, but they are (or should be) trying to woo you as well. You might need a job, but they also need to fill the position.
And, as with every other relationship, if it doesn't click, if it doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't. You'll be spending more time at work than awake with your own family, so you should be also considering a job that you enjoy.
Wishing you all the success. Maintain your motivation and believe in yourself.
Image: Creator: Antonio Guillem Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto Copyright: Antonio Guillem