You just received the email you have been waiting for. You have been invited to interview for a highly coveted role at your dream company. You feel ecstatic and begin to jump up and down…and then it hits you — there is only one vacancy and you start to feel the stress build up in your muscles. Fear not! We are here to help.
How exactly can you stand out from the crowd and make a memorable impression in the interview?
To make the best impression try out these 5 easy steps..
1) Give thanks
To leave a lasting impression and illustrate your amazing business repertoire, your first step in getting ahead of the curve is to draft a response to your interview invitation to show them your enthusiasm. Show enthusiasm for the role by explaining how excited you are and thank the organization for considering your candidacy. You may also want to add a sentence highlighting why you are attracted to the role. This will help HR ‘mark’ you and associate you with that quality, allowing them to remember you.
2) Do your research
It is important that you begin to have a well formed understanding of the company you are applying to and the job you are applying for. You do this by 1) understanding how the company perceives themselves, but also by 2) understanding how the company is perceived by others, namely the industry it operates in, the wider business community and most importantly the company’s customers. It is important to do this as it is a part of what makes (and keeps) a company successful is its reputation.
Moreover, this is a critical step as it will lend you the opportunity to evaluate whether the company is a good fit for you. In other words, do the company’s values, culture and reputation align with your business objectives and brand? Chances are that if you join the company, you will be associated with the qualities that the company is known for.
To help answer these questions, first carefully re-read the job description in full, and get acquainted with what the organization you are looking to join is looking for in a candidate. Next, visit the company’s website to learn more about their mission, business activities and culture. You may even want to have a quick glance at the company’s annual report to gauge their financial performance and brush up on their CSR activities.
Moreover, don’t shy away from exploring the company on social media, such as Facebook and Linkedin, for additional data points. The latter will also provide you with information on who in your wider network works at the company. Individuals in your network not only have the potential to provide additional information on the company and role you are applying for, but can also support you with building your question bank and offer to provide you with a mock interview session (as we will discuss in points 3 and 4).
Following that, you may want to read up about company reviews from current and former employees and business partners. Popular websites such as Glassdoor and Bayt provide a wealth of resources and commentary for you to form an impression of the company’s outside image.
3) Prepare your question bank
An often underestimated and underutilized tool when preparing for a job interview is your question bank. Have you taken the time to consider and think about what questions your interviewer will ask you? Close your eyes and try to visualize the day of your interview. Do you know what the first question you will asked to answer is?
In over 80% of cases, the first question asked in an interview is “tell me about yourself”. But what about the others?
Fear not! There is a relatively simple tool that you can use that will help you reduce the uncertainty — we like to call it the question bank. A question bank is a simple collection of frequently asked questions and your personalized answers to these questions.
Personally, I have built my interview question bank over excel, creating different tabs for each company I am applying for.
As it turns out, there are easy to access resources that will allow you to build your question bank. Glassdoor has become an extremely popular tool for finding these questions. The website features the questions of other candidates who have interviewed with the company. In some cases you will be able to filter questions down by job title. Copy these questions into your question bank excel tool and start to think about the kinds of answers you would have. Record these answers into your tool. Often times, you can have more than one answer for each question. We recommend you prepare for at least 10 questions.
Click here to learn more about creating a question bank and to download a free sample prepared by Wadhefty that you can use. While using our platform is a good start, we highly recommend that you personalize it for the company and role you are applying for.
The question bank is an extremely powerful tool for a number of reasons. First, it will give you the opportunity to think ahead of the interview and prepare for questions in a risk free environment, allowing you to reduce the incidence of filler words, such as your typical “hmm” and “you know”, and uncomfortable silences in your actual interview. Second, having this tool in hand will facilitate your preparation of other interviews coming your way as many of the questions are often repeated by other companies.
4) Practice with a friend …or more
Once you feel you have made enough progress on your question bank and have come up with strong answers that reinforce the company’s and the role’s requirements, take your preparation to the next level by getting the assistance of family or friends to perform a live mock interview.
Depending on the interview, we recommend anywhere from 1 to 2 simulations to help you get comfortable in a live setting. Your first mock will allow you to identify weaknesses in your interview skills and the second will give you another chance at practicing those areas where you need additional development.
One rule stands true — the more you practice, the more prepared and at ease you feel during interview day.
You have heard plenty about the importance of first impressions and of dressing for success. Equally as important however is your body language. Did you know that smiling for example, can have quite a big impact on yourself and others? Not only has smiling been shown to reduce stress levels, but it can also have a profound impact on how others view you. In fact, you are more likely to be perceived as confident and competent. It can also be contagious and it certainly won’t hurt if your interviewer catches on to your smile!
Congratulations, you have taken the first step at nailing your job interview. Now get ready to knock your interview out of the park!