You’ve been invited for a job interview. You want the job so you want to impress the interviewer without having to pretend. You want to give a good impression of the real you. And you only have half an hour! So here are some tips:
Get some background information:
Find out about the company so you know what to ask at the interview. What do they do? What do they prize themselves on? What’s the size of the company? The name of the manager? Google. Ask around. Talk to someone who works there. This can also be good in the interview to show that you have done your research.
Get your documents ready if you need them. It may be good to bring your own copy of your CV and any other documents you sent (eg references) so that you can refer to them in the interview.
Check place, date, time of the interview:
It’s important to get to your interview calm and on time. Arriving late puts you in a bad light and annoys the interviewer. This could risk you getting the job.
So make sure your transport is arranged. Check directions. Visit the company beforehand if possible. It is a good idea to have the name and telephone number of your interviewer or his/her secretary so you can phone if you’re stuck in traffic or on the train.
Plan your appearance:
Wear clean clothes in good condition. It’s better to be conservative when dressing for an interview. Not too tight, too short, too shiny nor too revealing. Wear neat, clean shoes. Don’t wear very high heels as they prevent you moving easily and make you look inefficient. Rather don’t wear anything too strong smelling either. For women, if you do wear make-up or jewellery, don’t wear too much. You really want the interviewer to focus on what you are saying, and not be too distracted by anything in your appearance.
Practise being interviewed:
Ask a friend or family member to role-play your interview with you so you get used to the feeling of talking about yourself. If there is no-one who can do this, then imagine the wall is asking you questions! Answer it out loud.
The night before the interview:
Make sure your clothes are clean, ironed and ready. Check you have your documents, and that your phone is charged, and you know exactly where to go. Get to bed early. Don’t party. Wake with your mind, body and spirits fresh. Be at your best. Do some deep breathing, praying or meditation. Tell yourself positive stories about yourself. Set the alarm to give you enough time.
At the interview:
Make sure that you have switched off your phone before you go in. And also that you are NOT chewing gum. Don’t bring anything in like a water bottle or a coffee cup. If they offer you tea or coffee, it’s best to say no, as you want to be focusing properly on the questions, not on drinking. Just ask for a glass of water if they do offer you anything.
Take a deep breath before you go in. Enter, smile and shake hands with your interviewer. Give a firm handshake but not too strong nor too soft. A floppy handshake shows lack of confidence. Introduce yourself, and look the interviewer in the eye. Speak clearly so he/she can hear you. Stand tall. You can do it!
The interviewer will introduce herself/himself and invites you to sit down. Sit upright in the chair with both feet on the floor. Try not to cross your arms so it looks like you are creating a barrier between you and the interviewer. Also try not to fiddle with anything, like hair, or jewellery, as it can be distracting.
Breathe and relax. Take your time. It’s important to listen to each question. Answer clearly so your interviewer gets to know you. Look him/her in the eyes and don’t speak too fast or too softly. Your interviewer must hear you.
Ask your interviewer questions, for example, about your duties in the company, or anything you found interesting in your research about the company. Ask if there’s a training programme perhaps. Find out about conditions of employment: for example, what are your work hours, your leave, your wages. Ask about your employment agreement with the company. Will you be a permanent member of staff or on a temporary contract? However, don’t ask too many questions so that it sounds like you think you’ve already got the job!
Mention your skills that will be useful in the job. Remember though that nobody is perfect, and interviewers know that, so be honest and tell the interviewer where you feel unsure of yourself. It’s best to speak out before you start work so that you have no doubts when you agree to take the job, and you are not put into a position where you fail. Most interviewers will also appreciate your honesty.
The following are tips for how to conduct yourself during the interview.
• Be enthusiastic, but sincere. This demonstrates your interest in the company and the job that you are applying for.
• Listen carefully to the interviewer. If the question is not clear, ask the interviewer to elaborate or state the question differently to ensure that you
answer questions correctly.
• Keep the interviewer’s attention. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, and ask questions that provide more information about the job, where necessary.
• Don’t place blame or be negative about past employers. If you have experienced a bad employer or manager, find the positives in your relationship and focus on those. If there were no positives, and you must talk about the job, focus as much as possible on your successes in that job and not on the conflicts.
• Bring a pen and notebook with you. This needs to be a decent looking notebook. If you wish to take a few notes during your interview (to jot down your interviewer’s responses to your questions, for example), ask the interviewer if that’s okay.
• Greet your interviewer by name, with a firm handshake and a smile. Until your
interviewer tells you otherwise, use the more formal “Mr. (Molefe)” or “Ms. (Banda).”
• Wait for the interviewer to sit down or invite you to sit down before seating yourself.
• Do not smoke or chew gum or walk in with your sunglasses balanced on your head.
• Sit comfortably, maintain good body posture.
• Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying. Take a few seconds to think about
a difficult question before responding. Responding quickly may convey that you’re
impulsive and don’t take time to think about your decisions.
• Don’t make up answers to questions you don’t know. Your interviewer will conclude
that you will do the same thing in the work place.
• Enthusiasm is vital! Demonstrate your interest in the job and in the company.
Here are the 10 most-asked interview questions you could prepare for:
1. What can you tell me about yourself?
Talk about your past and present work-related experience in a short summary. Focus on elements that you want to highlight that will give the
interviewer a positive insight into how you would fit into their company. Do not talk about your personal life unless you are asked directly about this.
2. Can you list your strengths?
Think about three things that you do well and give concrete examples. If you are a strong organiser, for example, then talk about a project that you coordinated.
If you are good with numbers, then talk about your skills with spreadsheets or financial matters.
3. What weaknesses do you have?
Never say that you have no weaknesses. Being able to identify a weakness in yourself is a strength that shows that you are self-aware and conscious
of the need to improve. Focus on an area of your work that could be improved, like the need for more training in a particular area.
4. Why should I consider hiring you?
If you are highly qualified for the job you are applying for, then you should point this out. Also comment on your communication, organisational and
social skills that might make you a valuable member of the team.
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Talk about your wider ambitions and goals. It is ideal if these fit into the field of the company that you are interviewing with, as they don’t want to
invest time and energy in somebody who will leave their company soon.
6. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show that you have researched the company you are applying to work with. Explain what you like about this company. Avoid
making negative comments about your current job.
7. What is your salary expectation?
Make sure you have looked at other, similar jobs being advertised in other organisations so that you have an idea of the pay rate in the market. You
can talk about pay in terms of ranges and not specific amounts, and it is also appropriate to talk about benefits like healthcare, transport allowances, a
pension and time off as well as a salary.
8. What motivates you?
Motivation is personal, so think about what makes you happy or motivates you in your personal life and think about how this might be useful in your
9. What relevant experience do you have for this job?
Talk about specific examples from your past that show your experience that is relevant to the job you are applying for.
10. Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
Always have at least one question prepared in advance. This could be about the company or your responsibilities or the team you will be working in
or based on something that has come up in the interview. You could also ask for feedback on how you have done in the interview, but don’t ask if you
have the job yet! They will let you know if your application has been successful when they are ready.