Tips to Succeed in Personal Interview
- Dec 23, 2015
Interviews can be nerve-wracking. Regardless of the number of times we have appeared for them or the purpose of the interview, they never cease to intimidate us.
The seeds of stress are sown as soon as the date and time of the interview are announced. As the preparation begins, the stress level gradually climbs the ladder and it shoots right up the day before the interview. You bite your fingernails as you prepare for the interview; all the while imagining the worst, “What if I don't make it?”
Then you make it through the night somehow and in the morning of the D-day, you wake up with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and zero appetite. You get dressed and ready with your mind elsewhere and arrive at the venue with your nervousness meter ticking like a time bomb. As you approach the hot seat, you feel the stress getting the better of you as you try your best to stay afloat amid the unnecessary scary thoughts clouding your mind.
In a Job Interview Anxiety Report released by Harris Interactive polling, nervousness was found to be the primary cause of anxiety among 17% of the job seekers. Next in line was being overqualified, which stood at 15%; and so did not being able to answer a specific question.
Yes, interviews are scary, but they do not necessarily have to be this stressful. A huge part of this nervousness stems from a lack of confidence. You can build this confidence through rigorous preparation and practice. Only then can you perform well by shaking off the anxiety from your shoulder.
If you follow a few basic steps and prepare well for it, you would automatically find your stress level reducing, making way for a better and more effective interview experience. The following tips will help you succeed in your next interview.
Do Some Basic Research
To stand an advantage over others in your next interview, a basic research on the following is necessary:
- Target company
- The job role you are interviewing for
- Your interviewer(s)
Your interviewers are going to expect you to have an idea about the mission of the company, services and products offered, its leadership principles, recent events, what distinguishes it from its competitors and so on. Once you have acquired a sound knowledge about the company, you would be able to formulate your own opinions and suggestions befitting your potential role in the company to help it grow. That is exactly what the interviewers are looking for.
An idea about the responsibilities you will be asked to handle will give you an edge over the other candidates. This is one of the surest ways to impress your interviewer(s).
Next in line is collecting professional information about your interviewer(s). With the Internet being an integral part of everyone's professional lives, this wouldn't be difficult to find. A quick search on the professional networks will yield the background information you need, which include names, roles etc.
According to Miriam Salpeter of AOL Jobs, “As long as it is professional and seems like something the employer would want you to know. For example, 'I see you also attended the University of Illinois!' Or, 'I'm a big movie buff, too.'”
Once you have acquired this information, you will be able to address your interviewers with their names. This shows interest and the fact that you have done your homework. Therefore, it is definitely a smart move.
Dress Your Part
Your appearance is the first thing that people notice about you. This goes into building the first impression, which is generally formed in the first few seconds.
Gone are the days when only professional outfits made the cut in interviews. Even though that still holds its stance in several companies, many employers have become open to laid back attire. Startups and other tech companies have modernized the workplace a good deal. It isn't uncommon to find employers wearing T-shirts and shorts to work. That being said, a casual attire like that would definitely be frowned upon if you wear that to an interview. You can lose the tie and the suit, but try to keep it a little low-key on the casual front.
If you are interviewing for a company where the atmosphere is more conservative, you should definitely look no further than formal wear.
Your attire reflects your personality and shows how serious you are about the opportunity. It also shows your respect for the interviewer. Regardless of the industry you are aspiring to join, you need to keep the following in mind:
- Your attire should be crisp and wrinkle-free.
- Make sure that your shoes are appropriate for your line of work, polished and comfortable to wear.
- Avoid wearing loud perfumes; you do not want your perfume to be the first thing that walks into the room.
- Avoid flashy accessories. A non-flashy watch and belt ought to do the trick.
Show up Five Minutes before the Interview
Being punctual for your interview is good, but being a couple of minutes early is appreciable. It sends out a good message to your interviewer and shows how serious you are about the job. It also predicts the fact that you are going to be a punctual employee. Therefore, you should consider reporting at least 5 minutes early to your person of contact. We suggest you do the following to ensure that no unforeseen circumstance pops up to hinder your early arrival:
- Visit your interview venue the day before at the time of the interview to familiarize yourself with the route. This way, you will know exactly how much time it is going to take for you to reach the place of the interview the following day.
- Leave your house 10 minutes early. This will give you a headstart to commute without the worry. Also, this will give you enough time to check in and calm yourself down before you are asked to walk in through the door.
However, keep in mind to draw the line at 15 minutes at the most. Any earlier than that and chances are that it might turn out to be quite uncomfortable for you and the staff. They might feel that they need to entertain you and you might end up sipping on extra cups of coffee. Just as you are, they too, are trying to make a good impression.
Your Body Language and Manners Count
Your non-verbal communication speaks volumes about who you are and what you would be bringing to the table. Interviewers take into account the body language and etiquette as well while looking for prospective employees. Possessing impeccable manners and the right body language will place you a couple of steps ahead of the others.
You would need to keep the following things in mind.
- Greet your interviewer the time of the day and follow it up with a handshake. Now there are two sides of a handshake – one with a limp grip delivered by a shaky and sweaty hand and the other is a firm and warm one, conveying confidence and enthusiasm. You obviously do not want to be the bearer of the first.
- Eye contact is important in building trust. It shows that you are confident about yourself and your answers. Avoid blinking too much since that might indicate that you are too stressed out. Establish eye contact with every interviewer in the room and follow it up with a smile.
- Next comes posture. Sit up straight and lean a little forward. Avoid slouching since this indicates laziness and a lack of interest. When you are standing, remember to stand up straight, throw your shoulders back a bit and hold your head up.
- Be polite throughout and keep your phone switched off or in silent mode. Also, do not overstep on what your interviewer has to say. It is considered basic courtesy to let your interviewer finish his/her sentence and then speak. Cutting in between is rude and would annoy your interviewer.
As a prospective employee, you are going to have a few questions of your own. Your interviewers are going to expect you to come forward with those. They do not say, “Do you have any questions?” for nothing. Asking questions has two important benefits:
- It demonstrates your confidence in yourself as well as your interest in and competence for the position you are being interviewed for.
- You get an idea about the work culture of the organization and whether you would actually want to take the job.
For both the above points to work in your favor, merely asking questions isn't enough – you need to ask the right questions. Think: what do you want to know about the company? Or, the position? Or, even the team? You will be working there, so think up every scenario that can arise. Remember, the primary goal is to help the company grow and you are being considered in the role of someone who might contribute to that. So your questions should make your interviewers think that hiring you will be the right thing to do.
Prepare a maximum of four questions since time is limited and you do not want to be overstepping your limit.
While working in a team, you will be expected to adapt and work through the challenges. But that does not mean that you should be required to give up on your values and convictions. Throughout your interview, you should convey the fact that as much importance and dedication as you would give to the role you are being interviewed for, you would implement your responsibilities with your values in line. Sure; adapting to different challenges will be in your job description, but you would not bend your barriers to include anything that you consider immoral or unethical.
That being said, your interviewers will want to know that you can handle challenging situations well. Therefore, you would need to keep an open mind, be tolerant, persistent and keep emotions off the interview. And do not forget to be positive.
Expect the Unexpected
Every company tries to scout out the best talent available among interested candidates. To make this venture successful, interviewers are going to ask you really difficult questions that you might find tough to answer. Some questions might seem irrelevant, while some might seem absolutely bizarre and some might catch you completely off guard. But did you know that these questions give interviewers a wider understanding of your persona and help them predict how well you can cope with any hitch that might come your way?
No matter what question you are asked, remain calm and do not let your nerves get the better of you. If you have somehow missed the question, apologize and ask the interviewer to repeat. Think before you answer because you will be giving a lot away through your response.
You need to keep in mind that interviewers are looking for the ideal person who matches the job description. Your job would be to convey that you are the best fit. Your qualification and experience will get you halfway there, the rest you have to make up for through how you portray yourself in the interview. So it is important to create the right impression to have one foot through the door. And the tips mentioned above will help you in doing just that.
Would you like to add any other interview preparation tips to this list? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
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