In the past couple on months I have participated in several job interviews. I’ll soon become an expert on how to prepare, what to say and how; I consider designing a training from this topic. When I look at the first interview that I participated in, I turn back in horror. I was hardly prepared, though in my mind at that time I imagined I was. Nope. What did I miss? What did I learn later on? Let’s turn it into useful tips and techniques:
- Be absolutely prepared for „Tell us about yourself” question. It appeared on every – virtually every – interview. Be prepared to tell about yourself in 3 minutes maximum. This is not about the story of your life, this is about presenting what is best about you: your experience and highlights of your career. As one of the recruiters told me, „This is your show”. Scary? Energizing!
- Be prepared for the question „Key milestone in your career and why”. The reason „why” should be somehow connected to the position you apply for. Learn how to connect the dots! If I apply to a position in the corporation, the project might have concerned changing of organizational culture. If I apply to an NGO, I will choose an NGO experience as a milestone.
- Be prepared for the question: „Why should we choose you?” and the other, „Why shouldn’t we choose you?” Choose a weakness that can easily be transformed into strength, like too much enthusiasm or high autonomy. Know your strenghts and be prepared to talk about them. Again, connect the dots and choose these features, that go on well with the position you apply for.
- Read as much as you can about the company, so that you navigate among its notions and language with confidence. Get curious. Read reports, values, mission, about the team, and take notes. I create 2-4 pages outline for every interview.
- Prepare questions – show interest in the position and company itself.
A popular questions I was never asked: what do you know about our company, how do you cope with stress, what was your biggest failure. Despite the fact that nobody asked me that, I have my answers to these questions prepared for every job interview.
Interviewers can be nice or less nice, but they are always proffessional. They have their questions ready and note some of your answers. With some of them the “flow” is better than with the others: the contact is smooth, there is some laughter, the person looks truly curious and the whole experience brings to mind more a dialogue then a Q&A ping-pong. Sometimes, what happened to me, you get a first call and 15-minute conversation about your current situation, motivation for searching a new job, your strengths and weaknesses. This is a short time, during which you need to sound as energized as possible, positive and prepared. This is your first gate to the ordinary, face to face interview. I had interviews via skype and video interviews as well, and I am a big fan of natural face to face contact, when you can respond with your whole body language, and read the signals coming from your interviewer.
There is one more competence, that you need to practice before you go – IMPROVISATION. You cannot be prepared for everything. You have to trust your mind to connect the dots, your light-heartedness and emotional intelligence to laugh together with a recruiter, your intuition to know when it is time to say something, and when it is better to be silent.
And then – what? Then you master the competence, that is a mother of all competences during recruitment: you WAIT. For me this is the hardest part of these experiences, but I slowly learn how not to boost my expectations too high and humbly go back to my activities. Of course, if the deadline is not met, I write an e-mail or call, but it usually doesn’t hurry up anything.
Wishing you fruitful interviews and a peaceful waiting time,