Succeeding In Interviews

Succeeding In Interviews

Making all the right moves is essential to leave a positive and lasting impression on potential employers.

Securing a job interview means you now have the chance to show a potential employer why you are the best candidate for the job. However, the interview itself could be a daunting experience for the underprepared. Here are some tips on how to maintain your composure and impress your prospective employers.

Before the Interview

When you get the call for the interview, make sure you obtain the correct date and time of your appointment, as well as the exact location (including building, floor and room). It is also good to know the name of your interviewer and his or her designation.

Research the Company

Find out as much as you can about the company in terms of products or services, market position, competitors and challenges so that you can speak knowledgeably during the interview. Find out also if the company has been in the news recently and if it runs any community projects. If you are unfamiliar with the location, do a trial run to avoid getting lost on the actual day. It will also help you gauge how long it takes to get you there.

Research the Position

Research the daily activities or tasks of the job on offer so that you know what you are really getting yourself into. Then try to match your own qualifications, experience and personal traits to those activities or tasks. It is also a good idea to think of questions to ask the employer to reiterate your interest.

Role-play and Rehearse

As silly as you may feel, rehearsing an interview with a friend or family member can help to overcome a bad case of the nerves. While rehearsing, think of difficult questions you may get asked and prepare suitable responses.

If you are still in university, check with the career placement centre to find out if they conduct mock interview training. Career counsellors are more than happy to help students practise interview skills.

On the Interview Day

Make sure you have all the necessary documents with you when you leave home. This includes all degree certificates and letters of references (and their photocopies), passport-size photos, and a portfolio of your previous work or projects (if any). Also don’t forget to bring at least two copies of your résumé.

Dress to Impress

Statistics by recruitment specialists Sarina Russo Group indicate that more than 90% of the impact we make comes from how we dress, walk and talk, and not from what we actually say.

Dress appropriately for the job you are applying for. Jobs in the banking and financial services sector usually require formal wear. Here are some ground rules to dress for interviews:

  • Solid, muted colours such as black, white, dark blue, brown, grey are generally accepted
  • Business attire: long pants, shirt, tie and jacket for men; long pants or skirt (at least knee-length), blouse and jacket for women
  • Clothes should be clean and neatly ironed. Jewellery and accessories should be minimal and not flashy
  • Shoes should be formal-looking yet comfortable to wear, and also well polished. Flip-flops and sneakers are a definite no-no, along with extremely high heels.
  • Hair should be neatly combed and styled. Avoid dying hair in shocking colours. Men should preferably be cleanshaven but if they have a moustache or beard, it should be neatly trimmed and groomed.

Punctuality Matters

You should never be late for an interview. If you are running late, call the interviewer before the scheduled time to let him or her know. Try to get there at least 15 minutes ahead of the appointment to freshen up and mentally prepare. Arriving early also helps if you need to fill up any forms.

Courtesy and Composure

You are being assessed the minute you walk into the interview room. Remember to be courteous at all times. Introduce yourself to all the interviewers, shaking their hands gently yet firmly.

Your posture and body language are equally important in making a good impression, along with regular eye contact. Always wait until the interviewer finishes asking a question before responding. Listen attentively and look for opportunities to point out how your capabilities match the employer’s requirements.

After the Interview

Don’t forget to shake the interviewers’ hands and thank them for their time once the session is over. It is also a good idea to send a thank-you note or email to reiterate your interest in the job. You may follow up with a phone call a week later if you have not heard from them, but avoid flooding them with calls or emails or you will be perceived as pushy or desperate.

Getting to the interview stage of the recruitment process is akin to having one foot in the door to the hiring company. Make sure you go fully prepared, put your best foot forward and do your best.