The job interview is your chance to show your prospective employer who you really are and what you can bring to the position. It is your chance to talk about the choices you made throughout your career, the goals you have reached and the accomplishments you have celebrated. In fact, those details are what will make an employer want to hire you.
By asking you questions, a prospective employer can learn all about you and why you made the choices you made. He can discover what motivates you and what makes you proud. The interviewer should find out how you will be suitable for the job, will you get along with other employees? And will you make important contributions to his institution?
The job interview is not like the resume you spent months poring over. You can edit your resume again and again until it lists the most important things about your career and uses the most effective wording to highlight your skills. However, a job interview usually takes place in less than an hour. When you say something, there’s no delete key. If you forget to say something, you can’t return to realize it.
That is why it is so very important to prepare yourself well for the job interview. You won’t have another chance to get it right, at least not with the same employer. The more comfortable you are with the entire process of interviewing, the more relaxed you will be when the time for the interview comes, and the better the interview will be.
This guidepost will guide you through the entire job interview process, including the following eight points
- Using a resume to present yourself.
- Being aware of the main purposes of job interviews.
- Questions asked in the interview.
- How to intelligently answer the common questions during the interview.
- How to go beyond your resume.
- Practicing the interview.
- Dealing with anxiety.
- Dealing with lack of confidence.
1. Use Your Resume to Best Present Yourself
Your resume is only a summary of your skills, work experience, and educational background. Remember to include information about your past jobs, including the names of the institutions, the dates you worked there, a description of what you did and your major accomplishments.
Use an easy-to-read font like Courier or Times New Roman. Type size shouldn’t be smaller than 10-point font or larger than 12-point font. Don’t boldface, italicize, or underline text.
Don’t exaggerate on your resume. If the information on your resume isn’t completely true, it will be impossible for you to discuss it during a job interview without continuing to exaggerate or lie. By the time you are done, if you have not been caught, you will have presented yourself as a totally different person than who you really are.
2. Know the Main Purposes of the Job Interview
- Painting a Whole Picture of You
While your resume is made up of information about your past experience, it doesn’t give the employer a full picture of who you are. Your resume is only a summary of your skills, work experience, and educational background. If the employer relies only on your resume, he won’t have any idea of the specific things about you that will set you apart from the other candidates.
The interview is your chance to expand upon the facts you listed on your resume. So, you should not think of an interview as an investigation but instead, look at it as a wonderful opportunity to express your true self to your prospective employer.
After all, a resume is merely a piece of paper, and you are so much more than that. So, by only looking at a resume, the interviewer can’t discover how a candidate developed some of his skills or which accomplishments meant the most to him. The interviewer can’t find out how the candidate reacts to change and diversity by reading his resume.
The only way an interviewer can learn any of those things about a job candidate is by talking to him and asking him questions. This will allow the candidate to paint a picture of himself that is much more elaborate than what can fit on one sheet of paper.
- Deciding Whether to Accept or Reject Job Offer
Another purpose of a job interview is to help you to learn about the employer. You will discover things on a job interview that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether to accept or reject the job offer the employer makes to you.
You will learn some things about the employer whether by asking him questions or from the questions he asks you. For example, if the interviewer starts asking questions about working late or traveling, you can safely assume that these things will be part of your life if you get the job.
You may decide by the end of a job interview that this isn’t really the job for you, or that this institution isn’t one you want to work for. And that’s okay. It’s up to you or to the employer to make this determination before you accept a job offer and begin working.
3. Prepare to Answer These Questions
You will be asked a variety of questions on a job interview. These questions will be about your skills and abilities, accomplishments, education, and work history.
You will also be asked questions about your strengths and weaknesses, your interests and hobbies, and your likes and dislikes, all of which will allow the employer to learn about your personal traits or characteristics.
You should prepare yourself for answering the kind of these questions but you should not go into a job interview with a memorized script but only go with an idea of how you will answer these most common questions that will come your way.
4. Give Detailed Answers
Be prepared to give detailed answers to job interview questions. The interviewer, for example, will ask you about your skills. You know what skills you have, but can you discuss how you acquired them? What if the interviewer asks you about your accomplishments? No doubt that you’ve accomplished a lot at work, but can you recall specific ones to talk about? It is imperative that you prepare some and look back at some of your experiences and get ready to provide good examples of your strengths when the subject comes up.
5. Go Beyond the Resume
The interviewer will likely use your resume to guide him through the interview so you should study your resume in order to be familiar with each item you have listed on it. You must be prepared to talk about and elaborate on every item on it since a resume by definition is just a brief summary of your work history. To keep it short, you should only provide the most important details about your experience and again don’t exaggerate on your resume because if the information on your resume isn’t completely true, it will be impossible for you to discuss it during the job interview without continuing to exaggerate or lie. If you did that, either you will be caught, or you will present another person totally different from you really are.
Interviewers generally expect more than yes or no answers to their questions. You must give details that clearly explain your answer and be ready to expand upon it with brief examples.
On a job interview, the interviewer expects you to elaborate. So, you should sit down before the interview with the final copy of your resume and look at the jobs you have listed on it and think about every single one carefully, one at a time asking and preparing the answer in writing for the following questions:
- What do you remember about the job?
- Do you remember why you started working there and why you left?
- What was it like working there?
- Did your boss rely on you to perform certain duties because of a particular strength you possess?
- Can you recall times when you were invaluable to your employer?
- Do you remember which job was your favorite (or least favorite)?
- Can you recall what you liked (or disliked) about each one?
- What projects did you work on?
- What skills did you use in order to complete those projects?
- What obstacles did you have and how did you overcome them to complete them?
- Did you most often work on a team, or did you usually work alone?
- Can you give examples of projects you worked on as part of a team and those you worked on independently?
- What do you think your major accomplishment is? Why?
- Did the accomplishment help you reach a goal?
- How did it benefit the employer?
- Were you in any way rewarded for your achievement, perhaps with a promotion?
If you could take notes about the previous information, study it before the interview and recall it while you are interviewed, you will be more confident and likely guarantee to give such a good impression that enables you to succeed in the interview.
6. Take Time to Rehearse
To prepare for job interviews, it is important that you do some practice interviews, both alone and with others. Rehearsing for interviews will allow you to work on any problems that could affect the interviewers’ opinion of you. Rehearsing will also allow you to become more comfortable with the interview process. By the time you go on an interview, you will have no problem confidently answering questions.
The interview is not only about what you say, but also about how you say it. It is difficult to see yourself as you appear to others. When you are engaged in conversation with someone, do you tend to look disinterested or do you generally look engaged? Do you look nervous or calm? Do you talk too fast, too slowly, too softly, or too loudly? You probably don’t know the answers to these questions unless someone has pointed out a problem to you in the past.
You should start rehearsing for your job interview in front of the mirror and consider the following points:
- What you look like when you are talking.
- What your body language is like.
- What the position of your hands and arms is.
- What your facial expressions are like.
Next, you might recruit a friend to help. If you know someone who has experience interviewing others, especially someone who is responsible for hiring, ask him to work with you. If that person is unavailable, find someone else whose opinion you trust. Have him ask you questions and then answer them as if you were on an actual interview. To make the situation more realistic, have your friend choose the
questions to ask. If you have friends seeking jobs, you can all practice interviewing together. Record videos of yourselves interviewing each other and play them back. Reflect on other performances as well as your own. Once you did that, the real performance will seem so much easier.
7. Deal with Anxiety
Interviews make lots of people nervous. If your anxiety level is severe, it can spoil your performance on a job interview. Many people fear the unknown most, so preparing for the job interview learning what questions to anticipate, thinking about how you will answer them, and rehearsing for the interview can help reduce this feeling.
Remember that If you’ve done everything you can to prepare, you have significantly increased your chances of succeeding and you will be able to walk into the interview calm, cool, collected, and bursting with confidence. However, you won’t be able to do that if you aren’t relaxed. Find a way to relieve your stress, before it affects your chances of getting the job you want. People use many techniques to relieve stress. Consider the following:
- Exercise is one of the ways to destress. You can go for an early morning run or a workout at the gym before the interview.
- A tension-relieving walk around town would be better if tiring exercise isn’t something you are used to.
- Trying massage, meditation, or deep breathing may also help relieve anxiety.
You should select the technique that works well for you and use it in the days leading up to your interview.
8. Deal with Lack of Confidence
Sometimes job searches can take a very long time. This is especially true during economic downturns. People are sometimes out of work for months, or even years, which can affect their self-confidence. If you are in this situation doubting whether you will ever find a job, your lack of confidence will be visible to anyone you come to contact with including employers.
So, you must get out of this crisis fast, or you won’t be hired not because of a bad economy, but because of the way you carry yourself.
Focus on your accomplishments. Remember all the great things you did in your career. Think about what you can bring to a new job. Think about how lucky any employer would be to have you work for him. If you focus on these things, your self-confidence will increase, and the interviewer will notice that too.