Love them or loathe them, job interviews are a crucial step in the employment process. Job interviews provide candidates with the opportunity to showcase their skills, experience, and personality to potential employers. A good interview can be the difference between landing your dream job or facing another round of writing cover letters and sending resumés. To ace your job interviews and leave a lasting impression on hiring managers, consider the following tips and strategies.
Interview Tips to Impress Hiring Managers
The first and probably most important thing to remember about interviews is that preparation is key. Here are a few tips to get you ready before walking through the doors.
- Do your research: Before the interview, gather as much information as possible about the company you’re interviewing with. Understand their mission, values, products, and recent news. This knowledge will not only impress the interviewer but also help you tailor your responses to align with the company’s culture and goals.
- Know the job description: Familiarise yourself with the job description and requirements for the position. This will allow you to highlight your relevant skills and experiences during the interview. The more you can align your qualifications to what they seek, the more attractive you’ll be to the hiring manager.
- Practice interview questions: Many interview questions are standard, such as “Tell me about yourself,” “What’s your greatest strength/weakness?” and “Why do you want to work here?” Practice your answers to these questions in advance to ensure you exude confidence and showcase your competence.
- Prepare post-interview questions: At the end of the interview, you’re often afforded the opportunity to turn the table on the interviewer and ask them a few questions. Prepare insightful questions about the role, team, company culture, and future projects. This demonstrates your genuine interest in being a part of the team and company.
Dress for Success
Familiar phrases like “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” and “First impressions last” aren’t just sayings – they matter in job interviews too.
- Dress well: Your clothing choice matters, and it doesn’t have to be expensive either. Research the company’s dress code and opt for attire that is slightly more formal than their standard dress. Dressing professionally shows respect for the company and the interview process.
- Grooming: Pay attention to personal grooming. Ensure your hair, nails, beard, and hygiene are in top shape. A well-groomed appearance contributes to a polished, professional image and tells the recruiter that you are cognisant of how you present yourself and will ultimately represent the company.
The third and often understated tip is being mindful of your body language. This refers to your facial expression, posture, demeanour, and non-verbal cues and communication.
- Maintain eye contact: When speaking with the interviewer and answering questions, maintain good eye contact. This demonstrates confidence and interest in the conversation.
- Smile: A genuine smile can make a positive first impression and create a friendly, approachable persona
- Shake hands: Always offer a firm, but not overpowering, handshake when you meet the interviewer. A weak or overly aggressive handshake can leave a negative impression.
- Posture: Sit up straight and avoid slouching. Good posture reflects self-assuredness and attentiveness. Try not to cross your arms, as this could imply you are closed off to the interview experience and are not open.
- Active listening: This is a learned skill that everyone needs. Show that you’re actively listening by nodding your head and providing verbal cues, such as “I understand” or “That’s interesting.”
Highlight Your Skills and Experience
This is where you get to tell them who you are and expand on what you stated in your resumé.
- Use the STAR method: When answering behavioural interview questions, structure your responses using the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This format helps you provide a clear and concise answer that highlights your skills and accomplishments.
- Provide examples: Back up your claims with concrete examples from your past experiences. Quantify your achievements, when possible, to demonstrate your impact.
- Adaptability: Emphasise your ability to adapt and learn quickly. Employers value candidates who can thrive in changing environments and are eager to acquire new skills.
- Stay positive: Focus on your accomplishments and experiences rather than dwelling on any past challenges or negative experiences. If you do touch on this, don’t leave it there. Instead, spin this in a positive light and tell them what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown from the negative experiences.
In today’s world, communication is key, and a sought-after soft skill that can, in some roles, take you further than technical skills.
- Speak clearly: Pronounce your words and speak at a moderate pace. Clear communication is essential for understanding and being understood.
- Avoid jargon: Be mindful of using industry-specific jargon that the interviewer may not understand. This could come across as though you’re just throwing big words out there to seem like you know something when you don’t. If you do use such terms, be prepared to provide explanations.
- Eliminate fillers: Minimise the use of fillers like “um,” “uh,” and “like.” These can make you appear less confident and as though you don’t know the answers to the questions.
Emotional intelligence is another attractive skill that hiring managers look for in candidates. Sign up for courses to develop your emotional intelligence and understand why it’s such a vital skill in the workplace.
- Be empathetic: Demonstrating empathy and understanding can be an asset. Show that you can relate to others and are a team player.
- Conflict resolution: Highlight your ability to navigate and resolve conflicts. Employers appreciate candidates who can handle interpersonal challenges professionally.
- Be calm under pressure: If faced with a difficult or unexpected question, remain calm and composed. Take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.
What happens before and during an interview is important. And so is what you do at the end of the interview. Here are additional tips you can use to help you clinch the deal.
- Express gratitude: Thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to interview. Express your enthusiasm for the position.
- Follow-up: Send a personalised thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview. Reiterate your interest and appreciation for the opportunity.
- Don’t speak negatively: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything. Don’t speak negatively about your previous employers, colleagues, or experiences.
Acing a job interview is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice. By thoroughly preparing, dressing appropriately, and paying attention to body language and communication, you can impress hiring managers and increase your chances of landing the job you desire. Remember that the interview is a two-way street, and it’s also an opportunity for you to assess whether the company and role align with your career goals and values.