How to ACE a Job Interview

Congratulations on being invited to the job interview! This means that your cover letter and resume did the trick from all of the applications, and they are interested in you.

In this instalment of the three-part series on interviews, I will give you tips on how to conduct yourself during the interview, so that, even if you are not successful, you will make an impression.

How to present at the interview

Never before have the words, ‘First impressions count’ been this true. This includes the way you enter the interviewing room. Please walk tall while making eye contact as you greet them with a handshake. When you take your seat, sit up straight and keep your hands in your lap or on the armrests.

Dress the part

Your image is critical. Be appropriately dressed. Remember how I advised you to call ahead and find out what the dress code of the company is? This is where the information will be useful.

Be aware of your body language

We all talk a second language, and this one is a non-verbal one. It is your body language. You have to be aware of your mannerisms. If you have difficulty with body language that belies your skill and confidence in what you can do, join public speaking groups such as Toastmasters. Alternatively, video yourself having a ‘mock interview’ and ask someone to evaluate it for you. Youtube is a fantastic resource, as well. In the age of the internet, you can google “Interview body languages”. You have to know that your body language could inform people that you may not be interested in the position.

People judge books by their covers, and they judge people by their appearances as well. Personal grooming is essential for a face to face interview.

How to behave during the interview

1.  Listen twice as hard as you talk

Listening skills are critical during the interview. If you do not understand a question, ask the interviewers to clarify it. Do not interrupt when someone is busy talking. Engage in active listening by making eye contact and nodding when appropriate.

2.  When you could and should ask questions

Often you are asked whether or not you have a question. If you have done your research on the company, you may have questions that you could ask for information not readily available on the web.

Here is a list of possible questions that you could tweak to fit the situation:

  • Ask about the team you may form part of – how big is it?
  • What encouragement is given to undertake further training?
  • Whom will I report to?
  • How many people will report to me?
  • From which location will I be working from?
  • Why has this position become vacant?
  • What are the typical challenges of this role?
  • How will performance be measured?
  • Is there potential for progression in this role?
  • How soon will you decide on the appointment of a new candidate?
  • What is the next step? Do not mention money at this stage – they will ask you what your expectation is. Also, do not ask about the benefits of the role – the company will inform you about these.

Interview tips to help you prepare for the job interview

  • Research the company
  • Know your resume and the job ad inside out
  • Listen intently and talk when needed (the 50/50 rule)
  • Do not talk for less than 20 seconds, but PLEASE ensure that you stick to the question, and do NOT talk for more than 2 minutes. Interviewers tend to switch off after about a minute. So mention all the essential facts first!
  • You have to be seen as a person who brings value, make a difference – DO NOT COME ACROSS AS A JOB BEGGAR (even when you are desperate)

You should be seen as a person who brings solutions, not become a problem.

  • Never bad-mouth your country or your previous employer
  • Remain positive under ALL circumstances
  • Answer the question asked, not more
  • Keep personal things personal
  • “Mirror” the interviewer – if the person is talkative, you could offer a bit more info. If the interviewer is short, to the point – he relates to people that are short and to the point
  • Be natural – bring in a bit of humour at the beginning of the interview to break the ice (NOT telling jokes)
  • Do not play with your hair, a pen – avoid nervous fidgeting
  • Ensure you speak clearly

What do to when they invite you for a coffee afterwards?

I recently heard an interviewer talk about this “clever” way to make up his mind. He said that he invites the two best candidates for coffee afterwards. Not both together but separately. He said that they would often let their guard down and reveal they’re true colours when they are more relaxed. He gave the example of a candidate who ticked all the boxes during the interview but during lunch revealed something that did not agree with the company culture. This resulted in the company offering the position to the other candidate. Coffee with the interviewer does not mean that you got the job. It may be the last hurdle that you have to get over. Always keep it professional.

These job interview tips are by no means exhaustive and do not guarantee that you will be successful during the interview. Please also share your tips for having a successful interview in the comments below.

If you require help with creating a resume that highlights your Australian value proposition, or assistance with recruitment or setting up your LinkedIn profile, please feel free to contact me. Don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn and keep up with my frequent updates on both LinkedIn and  Facebook. You can easily reach me through a LinkedIn message or by finding my contact information here. 

About the Author

Having relocated twice from South Africa to China and then to Australia, and also moving from Queensland to Western Australia, has gained valuable insight into the intricacies of job searching in Australia.

Chaleen, who graduated from the University of South Africa with a background in accountancy, decided to embark on a new journey and discovered a passion for assisting others in their job search. Since 2012 she has played a pivotal role as a job coach, developing LinkedIn profiles and coaching job seekers.

Chaleen was eventually offered a position as a recruiter at a specialised recruitment company and later at an outsourced HR firm. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she had a passion for the recruitment process. Chaleen obtained her recruiter’s license and subsequently established her own recruitment company.

Chaleen enjoys reading, staying fit, and spending time with her family and their two furry pets when she is not working.

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