If you try to tell me that you find job interviewing a breeze, I would say that you’re downright lying.
For the majority of us, the job interview process can often be a traumatising experience; leaving us overcome with anxiety right up until the very moment we leave that boardroom (and even then, we are often left stressed as we wait to hear back from the recruiter).
Preparation is the best way to overcome this nervousness – the more equipped you feel with knowledge about the position you’ve applied for, the organisation you’re interviewing with and the overall interviewing process, the more comfortable you’ll be.
You’ll never know exactly what to expect when going for a job interview, however there are some universal tips and advice that will help to prepare you as best as possible.
Here’s the ultimate guide to the interview process – from outfit advice, to how to tell if your interview went well and everything in between, we’ve got it all covered:
5 Tips on What To Wear To an Interview
No matter if you’re deciding what to wear to a university interview, informal interview or a smart casual interview, these 5 tips will help you make an educated decision.
Do your research on the organisation you are interviewing at and try to gauge its dress code. You can generally get a good idea depending on the company’s industry area. For example, a marketing agency would typically require more of a smart dress code, while in an accounting firm, you would typically see men in suits and women in smart corporate wear.
Try to avoid anything that you know will be uncomfortable to wear
Interviewing is nerve-wracking enough without the added stress of a suit too tight or how painful those new shoes are.
Ask the people around you for advice
Once you’ve decided on a couple of outfit options ask the people around you, such as your friends and family for their advice. Sometimes with the anxiety of the situation we can become flustered and are unable to make an informed decision – this is when getting the opinions of others is a great help, and can often clear up any doubts you may be having about a particular outfit.
Make sure your clothes are presented well
Although it goes without saying, ensure your clothes are clean, properly ironed and fit well – first impressions are everything in this scenario!
Not sure about the organisation's dress code? Overdoing it is better than under doing it
Sometimes it can be unclear when applying for a position in a particular industry area, if this is the case for you and you’ve done all of the research you can and still are unable to determine what the standard dress code is, it is always best to dress more formal rather than too casual.
Interview Deal Breakers
There are a variety of deal-breakers when undertaking the interview process. For this reason, it is essential that as a candidate you go the extra mile with every aspect of this process. According to recruiters, the following behaviours could rule you out as a potential candidate during an interview.
Rude to the receptionist or support staff
Checking their phone
Showing up late
Interrupting the interviewer
Bringing food or a coffee
Casual or poorly dressed
In an interview, a hiring manager’s first impression of you is determined:
Based on the quality of your voice
By the way that you’re dress and how you enter the room
From what you actually say
The 10 Most Common Interview Questions and How To Answer Them
As you may already know, the purpose of the interview is to discover more about you as an individual, along with why exactly you would be the best fit for the position and the organisation. The aim of an interview is not to intimidate the candidate and put you on the spot; rather, it is simply for you to showcase your skill set and personality to the recruiter and demonstrate to them why they should hire you over all of the other candidates.
Interview questions will vary depending on the position you’ve applied for, however there are many that are universally used across multiple industries. They will typically relate to establishing your knowledge, skills and culture fit, as noted in the selection criteria of the job listing.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
The most common, yet most ill-prepared for question in the interviewing process. Avoid running through your entire professional portfolio. Here, it is best to provide your recruiter with your elevator pitch – a concise and captivating couple of sentences that really captures exactly why you are the perfect fit for the applied position. A great way of refining your answer is by using the ‘Present-Past-Future’ method – begin with what you are doing in your current role, then follow with the experience you’ve had in previous positions, and finally the ‘Future’; why you are keen on this specific opportunity.
What do you know about our organisation
This question is asked not only to gauge if you’ve done your research, but to test if what the organisation does really resonates with your passion, both professionally and personally. Demonstrate that you know the company’s goals – weave in some notable keywords for the organisation’s website, then define why this correlates with you, as well as incorporating some examples into your answer to solidify your statement.
Why are you the best person for this job
This is an opportunity to highlight your skills and passion for the applied position. First step is to state one or two key elements from the job listing that you can relate back to your own skills, then expand and explain why these elements make you a great fit for the role. You can then delve into how your passion connects with the organisation.
What is your greatest strength?
For this question, emphasise a strength that is both relevant to you and the role that you are interviewing for. Make sure it is a specific strength that you can back up with a working example in a professional setting.
What is your greatest weakness?
When your interviewer asks this, it is mainly to determine your honesty, along with your self-awareness. Despite what we’ve been told in the past, your interviewer does not want to test how well you can disguise a strength as a weakness – deeming yourself a ‘workaholic perfectionist’ isn’t going to cut it unfortunately. Instead, be honest about your weakness, but make sure it doesn’t sabotage the rest of your interview. Try to choose a weakness that doesn’t directly interfere with the duties of the position, or talk about how you are actively addressing the weakness to improve yourself.
Tell us about a challenge you've encountered in the workplace. How did you handle this?
The best way to tackle this question is to identify a challenging situation that will demonstrate how you handle conflict in the workplace. Then employ the STAR Method to help break down your answer step-by-step, focusing on how you remained professional and came to a resolution.
What is important to you about a workplace?
When a hiring manager asks you about work environment, they are trying to gauge whether you would be a good fit for their company and culture. Typically, you can determine a company’s values by their website, office environment and those you encounter throughout your interviewing process. This question is all about assessing your surroundings, and applying what you’ve determined to an answer that relates these back to you. If you walk into an office that demonstrates great relationships between colleagues and emphasises clear importance on company culture via its social channels and other online platforms, you should definitely pull this element into your answer. Do your research and apply it.
What is your dream job?
As obvious as it may seem, this question is asked by a recruiter to determine whether this position really aligns with your overall career goals – discuss how this role will help you get closer to achieving your professional aspirations.
What are your salary requirements?
The ultimate key point here to answering this question is to do your research! There are plenty of online resources that can give you average salaries across almost every job title – one way of answering this question is to select the income that is on the higher end of the average range, then make note that you are open to negotiation. This will demonstrate to your interviewer that you know your worth, yet you also want the job and are willing to discuss options.
Have you got any questions for us?
Top tip: Never leave this one unanswered. It can be easy to wrap up your interview early due to nerves, but this question can be equally important as the previous. Most of your questions about the role would most likely be answered throughout the course of the interview, so it is ideal to prepare some less conventional questions to ask in the final moments of the interview. Questions about company culture or organisational growth are great default questions, as you involve your interviewer. These will also give you great insight of their outlook and passion for the company, and ultimately if this position is the right fit for you.
The STAR Method technique is a great way to establish answers to situational questions that may been asked in an interview. It is a highly regarded method as it allows you to break down your answer into a simple step-by-step process that is very clear and concise.
See an example answer using the STAR Method below:
Role as Project Manager at Company X
In this position, I was in charge of moderating and resolving team conflicts; making sure that these resolutions were reaching in a positive and efficient approach.
When I encountered any conflict issues, all challenges were dealt with promptly and according to business protocol.
With my management, conflicts were kept controlled, and lines of communication were signficantly improved between team members.
Corporate job openings attract
Out of these candidates
will be interviewed
will get a job offer
5 Ways on How to Tell If An Interview Went Well
As we all know, nothing is a sure thing. However, there are common signs of a good interview to look for once you’ve completed the process. Below are 5 signs of a good interview:
Did you take note of how your hiring manager was acting throughout your interview? If they seemed really absorbed in your conversation, this could mean that you may have it in the bag. An engaged interviewer suggests that they are contemplating selecting you for the position.
Introductions to other colleagues
Another positive sign of a successful interview is if the recruitment manager actively took you on a tour around the office and introduced you to others that you would potentially be joining. This typically only happens with an interviewer’s preferred candidate, so you could have a good chance of getting the position.
Laidback conversational chat
Casual chatter suggests that your interviewer is trying to engage with you and get to know you on more of a friendly level, rather than keeping the conversation bound by the strict professionalism that is requiring during the interview itself. This genuine effort can only be taken as a positive signal.
Notice periods and other prospects
These ‘closing questions’ imply a keenness on the behalf of your recruiter – however, it is also important to note that many employers ask this question as a part of the organisation’s evaluation process, so it does not necessarily mean that you should be putting all of your eggs in one basket. Yet again, if it accompanies these other four signs then it may very well be a positive indicator.
Discussing next steps about when you will be contacted
This can indicate one of two things – it could mean that the organisation is really on top of their recruitment process, or it could mean that the hiring manager has already thought about taking you on for the position.
And there you have it! That should just about have you covered for every step of the interview process. Good luck, you’ll be great.