We’re lucky that we live in a connected world. Unlike the earlier workforce that needed to go through acquaintances and job portals, and then wait endlessly for a recommendation, we today have powerful social media tools that put us front and centre in a hirer’s mind, or put that dream job right in front of our eyes. Make the most of it!
Recently, we saw a post on LinkedIn where a company was downsizing and had to let go of their writers. The CEO put out a message on her profile tagging all of the people who now needed a job, and talking about how good they really were. Many of them received responses from people looking to hire.
It is probably safe to say that in today’s times, getting to the interview stage is not hard, at least not as hard as it was. However, once you’re across the table, what you do matters. This article is to help you prepare for different kinds of interviews, and also to share some generic pointers that apply for all interviews.
Things To Keep In Mind To Succeed In An Interview
There are some basic rules for success in any interview, and here we show you how to go the extra mile.
1. Get To Know The Company:
It is important that you understand the company’s vision and where you stand in the big picture. Educating yourself about the company is not just about getting to know what it does. You need spend time to map yourself to the role you’re applying for, the industry standards for skills and expectations, and come up with focused questions for your interviewer. Not only does this clarify things for you, it gives your interviewer the assurance that you are well-prepared.
2. Be Ready To Answer Standard Questions:
Standard questions beget standard answers- do you agree? However, there are some questions interviewers ask just to gauge your clarity of thought and communication. It is worthwhile to think about these questions well in advance and build a logical answer. Some common questions include, ‘where do you see yourself in five years’, ‘what are some of your greatest strengths’, and ‘why do you want this job.’ Of course, the more skilled interviewers know that asking for examples is better than asking generic questions, but if they don’t, then you have your answers ready. Keep them genuine and candid.
3. Reach The Location Well In Time:
We live in a crowded world where a cab may not arrive in time, traffic may foil our plans and so on. Plan to be at the interview location at least 30 minutes in advance. This gives you a buffer, plus leaves enough time to complete entry formalities, move to the right floor in the building, and take a few deep breaths before you enter the room. It is best not to come across as sloppy in the first encounter.
4. Dress For The Location:
You may have heard of people saying, “dress for the occasion.” Today, interviews have moved beyond standard meeting rooms and an interviewer may wish to meet you in a more neutral location. If this is the case, smart casuals are usually recommended based on the time of day.
However, if you have a contact within the company, it is best to seek their advice on what executives often wear to lunches and coffee meets. If you turn up for lunch, know your table etiquette and do not order anything that makes too much noise while eating, or is just hard to navigate around. For example, if you don’t know how to use chopsticks, sushi may not be the best idea.
Also remember to carry all of the material you wish to showcase. While we have moved past the age of physical CVs, it is worthwhile to have a couple of hard copies. If you have a design portfolio, put it in logical sequence and spruce it up a bit before you present. Always keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and have the URL to your profile on every piece of work you present.
Preparing For A Technical Interview
The technical interview is not designed to put you at ease. Instead, it is an opportunity for a hirer to observe how you might perform in the everyday environment.
Functional roles almost always need a technical interview before you can be hired. Usually, the first part of a technical interview happens on the phone and you might not even be aware that you are being interviewed. Keep your wits in place and speak your mind clearly.
Then, you may be asked to participate in an onsite coding challenge. If you have any questions, ask. In fact, it is expected that you ask questions as it demonstrates the need for clear communication. Take your time and do not be in a hurry to race against the clock. Most technical interviews result in disappointment because the candidate is under pressure to perform. If you can treat it as just another day on the job and be relaxed, it will definitely pay off in your work.
Preparing For An HR Interview
A HR interview usually has a very conversational format, but this is also where discussions about salaries and policies happen. This is a chance for you to gauge if you really fit in- for example, you may be attending weekend classes and if the company has a six-day policy, it may not suit your needs.
Do not be shy to negotiate. Certain cultures make it harder for people to justify a career break or a transition. However, do not undersell yourself and your skills. Even if you are desperate for the job, set a salary benchmark beforehand and do not go under it. You’ll only live to regret doing that.
Be honest in all of your responses. Any embellishment at this point will probably be cross-checked with your references. So, just be candid about what you did and didn’t do, and what you learnt along the way.
As someone attending an interview, the best thing you can do for yourself is being comfortable and easy about the whole process. If you’re honest, balanced and skilled enough for the job, it will come out best when you are relaxed. Be sure, at the same time, to analyse if the company is the right one for you as well.