When looking for a job it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when being called in for an interview because you really want or need that job.
For most people, interviews are extremely stressful experiences, making them lose focus on the most important things.
Sure, looking neat and professional is important but not as important as the following things.
Do your homework
This applies even before sending your CV to a company.
Make sure that the company you are targeting is a good company to work for, that it shares the same values as you do and you would enjoy working there.
One of the main tools for researching a company is LinkedIn.
Check the employees both current and past in your location, if the company has several locations. This will give you a great overview of employee turnover.
If, for example, you are applying for a Marketing Manager position, and the current Marketing Manager has been with the company for 6 months and the previous Marketing Manager stayed for 9 months, maybe there is an internal issue that makes people leave.
Also, checking the background of the people working for that particular company gives you a great overview of how demanding that company is.
The most important people that you want to check on LinkedIn are the people that are going to interview you if you are invited for an interview. Their profile is a great window to finding shared connections or companies that you both worked for. This makes for a great ice-breaker and gives you a lot of chit chat topics.
Other social media channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, depending on the industry the company you are going to interview with operates in, should not be neglected either. They give you an insight into the company culture, their internal events and other things alike.
Another very important indicator of a company is its website.
If done properly, the website should tell you everything you need to know about the company. When they were established, what exactly is their business, who are their clients, where do they operate, etc.
What’s your added value to the company?
After doing the thorough research of the company you should have a clear picture of the importance of the role you are targeting or you will be interviewing for.
This will help you to better position yourself as a candidate and use your experience to explain how you would be able to help the company if they hire you.
For example, if you are going to interview for a Business Development position, once you know from their website who their current clients are, you can have an idea of who their target market is.
With simple research, you can check similar companies to their current clients.
During the interview, you can mention „I noticed that you work with A, B and C companies, however, Z and Y seem to also be within your target market. Have you previously done business with them, or are they on your target list?”.
This will show the recruiter/interviewer that you know what you are talking about and you understand their business model.
Basically, although it sounds harsh, as an employee, you need to market yourself as a product.
Think about yourself when you buy a product, why do you buy it? What problems do you want the product to solve for you? Let’s say you want to buy a pair of shoes. You need winter shoes. You will want your new shoes to probably keep you warm, keep the water away, go with the clothes in your closet and probably have a reasonable price.
It’s the same for a company. They want someone to have similar experience in the past with the role they are hiring for, they want someone to fit in with the current team and also someone who’s salary expectation fits within their budget.
Regardless of the role you are being interviewed for, always speak the truth.
Nobody expects that you will know everything.
Maybe you’ve worked for smaller companies in the past, different industries or maybe you just didn’t have the opportunity to experience all the dimensions of a role.
That doesn’t mean you are inferior and shouldn’t get this job.
Changing industries and companies, in general, can give you so much experience and broaden your vision and you should use that.
If something is not clear or you didn’t understand a question, don’t be afraid to say so. Ask for clarifications and if you don’t know how to answer a question, just be honest about it.
Never excuse yourself. Explain that you never had a similar situation and you don’t know how to answer that question.
Ask for time to think about your answer. Never rush to answer any question. It’s absolutely normal to think about what you want to answer.
Be confident about who you are and about your experience. Even if you think your experience is not much, it is, otherwise you wouldn’t have been called in for an interview.
Never forget that! If they called you in, it means they saw value in your experience. Now you just need to show your personality.
Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance.
It’s a fine line and difficult to balance, however it can be done. Be aware of your value and show willingness to find solutions without bragging.
For example, they would ask „would you be able to find a solution to x problem?”. This is a tricky question, as it is a closed question.
Answering with yes and leaving it there would show arrogance. Answering with „In my previous role as Operations Manager with x company, we had a similar problem. The way I tackled it, was by doing x, y and z”.
This shows that you do know how to deal with such a problem because you’ve had similar situations in the past.
You are confident without looking arrogant.
Easier said than done, we’ve all been there. Interviews can sometimes be nerve-wracking.
Even if you are desperate to get this job, never forget to be friendly and smile.
This can make the difference between your CV being thrown in the garbage after you leave the interview and getting a second call or even an offer.
You want to make sure that the interviewers perceive you as a good potential colleague.
Even if you are stressed and feel overwhelmed, you can be honest about it and say you are excited about being invited for this interview because you always followed this company or whatever made you apply for a job with that company.
This will help you feel more relaxed.
I cannot stress enough on the importance of dressing appropriately.
This doesn’t mean wearing a suit, but wearing whatever fits the company culture. If your research is done the right way, you will know exactly how to dress for the interview.
You do not want to be underdressed or overdressed.
Wearing a suit for an interview with a company where people are extremely casual, will probably make you look like you are not a good fit.
If the company is not a huge corporation or a bank, where you usually need to wear a suit, and you’re still not sure what to wear, you will probably not go wrong with a dark pair of jeans, a shirt, and a blazer.
If they are casual, you can just lose the blazer while waiting to go in.