Your resume is perfect, your cover letter polished, now all that stands between you and the job is the interview. Whether you’re applying for your dream position, or a summer internship – a strong interview is an essential stepping stone in showing employers why you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
First impressions count
If your interview is taking place on-site, aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early – you wouldn’t want to keep your interviewer waiting and jeopardise your chance at the job before your interview has even started. Make an effort to be polite to any employees you may interact with on your way there (even the receptionist and the doorman – a negative interaction with support staff could make its way to the hiring manager’s knowledge and affect their decision to hire you).
Walking into an interview unprepared is like trying to walk a tightrope blindfolded. Not a good idea. Its always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the company you’re applying to, just having a quick browse through the company’s website will help you get a feel of their values, their goals, and culture. It also never hurts to study up on the recent earnings and quarterly reports of the company you’re applying for – being able to weave your knowledge of company trends into your interview will show potential employers that you’ve done your homework, and demonstrate your familiarity with the company.
It’s a safe bet that a good chunk of the time spent will be you talking about.. well, yourself! (it is an interview after all) That being said, it’s always a good idea to have some key talking points about your strengths, weaknesses, any accomplishments (stick to the relevant ones though – your hiring manager probably doesn’t need to know about your swimming medal from primary school).
Be prepared to be asked behavioural questions (anything along the lines of “Tell me a time when…“, or “Give me an example when“), which are an excellent opportunity to showcase your past experiences and skills. If you get stuck answering these questions, just keep the acronym CAR in mind:
- Context : describe the background and situation that you were in
- Action : describe what action or steps you took
- Result : describe the professional outcomes you achieved
You want to be able to showcase why you’d be a good fit for the company, so don’t rush yourself in your responses and think carefully about what the employer may be looking for in a candidate.
Dress to impress
Of course, not every job interview warrants black tie attire – but looking groomed and professional is a big key in securing a great first impression in an interview. When in doubt, a pressed shirt and a pair of dress trousers is always a safe choice for any interview.
It may seem counter-intuitive to ask questions in an interview, but being prepared with specific and relevant questions for your interviewer a great way to demonstrate your interest in working for the company.
Here are some potential questions you could ask your interviewer:
- If I were to step into this role tomorrow, what would be my first priority?
- What improvements do you want the new hire to bring to the role?
- What is the company culture like?
Make a connection
Your interviewer has probably interviewed dozens of people before you, so you want to be able to stand out from the sea of other potential hires that are vying for the same spot that you are. A good way to establish a good rapport with your interviewer is by treating your interview like a conversation. No hiring manager wants to spend an interview talking to a robot, so adding in your own personality in your responses will elevate yourself as a candidate, and make yourself more memorable in their eyes.