Here it is, the job you’ve always dreamed about. Your CV and cover letter have caught someone’s attention and you’ve been invited for a job interview! What do you do next?
Preparation is crucial
To start with: prepare properly for your interview! Do some thorough research on the company. Ideal sources to consult are annual reports, the corporate website, newsletters and social media posts. Other great fonts of information can be quality newspapers, magazines and trade journals. Also explore the sector in which the company operates. Try to understand what the challenges, opportunities and threats are in this field of business. You will learn something new and it shows a genuine interest.
What’s more, proper preparation will help the interview go smoothly. No time to lose. The recruiter will have enough time to ask his or her core questions and also ask some additional in-depth questions. And you will have space to deliver your message and also gather extra information.
A good start is half the work: the first impression at a job interview
Body language is a powerful instrument. When you meet the recruiter, give them a short but firm handshake. Try to make friendly small talk if you still are walking a bit together. Make sure your appearance is tidy and you have a relaxed composure. Look lively, sit up straight, smile and remember to keep your posture open.
Start the conversation on a lively note and continue in the same tone. Regularly make eye contact with the recruiter. Is there more than one interviewer? Make sure you make eye contact with each of them and establish contact with them all.
And don’t forget: making a first impression starts the moment you drive on to the company grounds.
Self-knowledge is the beginning of all wisdom
You are your CV. Your CV often determines the course of the job interview, so keep your CV brief and to the point, with a very clear structure in your (study) career history. During the interview the recruiter will indicate which parts he wants to discuss. That’s the point at which you can provide additional information.
Prepare the story you want to tell in a very succinct form. Have practical examples at the ready, with facts & figures. Use the STAR method to structure your story: describe the Situation, list your Tasks, your concrete Activities (what did you actually do), and, finally, what was the Result.
Here are some of the questions you are likely to encounter: Why are you interested in this position? What are your strong points? How would you carry out this role? Demonstrate what you have achieved in the past, and how this brought added value to the company/project/study group you were working in.
One more tip: don’t talk too much, filling any silences. It is fine to pause now and then. It shows you are thinking before speaking. It may allow you to actually give a more thoughtful response, too.
Ask the right questions
At job interviews they also allow the interviewee to ask questions. Use this opportunity to impress the recruiter with clever questions. Avoid clichés and try to provide a fresh perspective. Focus on the needs of the company and what you can mean for them.
Make an enthusiastic, alert and positive impression. Talk in terms of opportunities instead of problems. Create a good atmosphere by showing interest in the other person’s viewpoint (even if you don’t agree). Finally, try to build a relationship with the person or persons sitting across from you. Think positive: these might be your future colleagues!
Bringing your interview to a good conclusion
Last but not least: the conclusion of your interview. If you have any questions, ask them now. Also inquire about the further procedure, if this is not yet clear.
Leave the initiative of ending the interview to the recruiter. And bid them a friendly goodbye.