10 tips for a successful job interview
Job interview is the best opportunity to present yourself as a positive person and a confident professional, and our tips and advice will help you with this. Many jobseekers worry that, “selling” themselves, they may seem arrogant or, on the contrary, unsure and, as a result, they choose answers to important questions that may seem fuzzy and vague.
This is not the first time that we post articles on Aptitude-Tests-Practice on job interview methods that can help you show yourself as one of the most powerful candidates. In our new article, we offer you a summary of the 10 most important tips for preparing for an interview:
Tip 1 – Know your strengths and weaknesses
Many candidates fail in job interviews just because they have not spent an hour carefully thinking about what they have to offer to an employer. Think carefully about your existing experience: how it makes you the best candidate for this job and how you can demonstrate it with specific examples. Once you have your thoughts, practice and go through fictitious interviews.
Tip 2 – Examine the job offer and your future employer
Your interviewers want to know if you are well suited to their company. This is easier to demonstrate if you know what they are looking for and how the work for this company fits into your career plan. Having found and demonstrated knowledge of information about the company, you show yourself as a person with analytical mind. Employers like this. Use all sources available to you, including any information about the company on its website and other websites, its annual reports and accounts, its scope of activities and competitors, its products, services and activities. Try to find as much as possible about the company internal rules and policies that must be accepted by all staff. For example, most companies in Europe adhere to an advisory style of management and managers expect all employees to contribute to company policies. On the other hand, many companies in China, India, Far East, Russia and Latin America adhere to an authoritarian style of management. In these companies all policies are developed and introduced by the management solely and it is hard for linear employees to introduce changes. Think about the practices in the company where you want to work and show this at the interview.
Tip 3 – Make you answers last from 1.5 to 2 minutes
Long answers do not give clear enough information, but too short answers usually give few points. Make sure that your answers will be 1.5 – 2 minutes in length, sometimes they can be slightly longer, especially for more open questions (for example, “tell me about yourself” or “tell me about your greatest achievement”), but they should not be more than 3 minutes, because interviewers can always ask additional questions.
Tip 4 – Describe just 3-4 skills or competencies in your answers, no more
Using the response structure where you describe 3-4 details will help your interviewers understand it better and they won’t have to work hard to get an idea of you. The human brain cannot accept more than 3 or 4 things at a time. If you need to say more than 3 or 4 things, you should organize the information in a different way. Do not overload the interviewers with information. If you tell too much per 1 answer, some details will just get lost.
Tip 5 – Clearly identify each item in your answer
Excessive information on the topic will make it difficult for the interviewer to understand what you are trying to say. Having a clear response structure, make sure that each section of it is perceived and identified in accordance with the message you are trying to convey. For example, if you are asked a question like “What are your main strengths?”, you can structure your answer as follows:
- One of my strengths is the ability to quickly analyze the situation and understand its wider aspects and consequences.
- I am friendly and always support the communication of my colleagues and clients.
- Another of my strengths is the ability to perform tasks in an orderly and systematic manner.
Tip 6 – Support skills information with your personal experiences
As an HR agent myself I can say for 100% of all HR agents: employers love when candidates can illustrate information about them with examples from their experience. And they hate when candidates say clichés without proving anything with real experience. We need to know how you solved working problems and how you gained your skills, so be prepared to tell this in detail. Without real examples, your speech will sound like a set of unfounded statements. However, consider the time limit in the interview. Make your examples concise and precise.
Tip 7 – Avoid declaring the response structure in advance if you are not completely sure about what you have to say
Announcing the structure of your answer in advance can be dangerous if you do not feel full confidence in your knowledge. For example, when answering: “There are several factors that demonstrate my relevant experience: my deep experience in sales methods, my ability to manage clients, and my negotiation skills.”
This response will oblige you to have clear, ready-made answers to the interviewer’s questions that are natural in this case and can be extremely inconvenient if you are not ready to give examples.
This way you are losing flexibility in your answers. If you have announced the structure of your answer in advance, you will not be able to change it halfway, i.e. if you want to add something or discard the unnecessary, which you did not initially think about, it will be difficult for you to do this.
Tip 8 – Use active verbs and terms to describe yourself
In order to properly influence the interviewer, do not use expressions such as “I participated” too often, as they reflect the situation in which you were a performer, and did not play a major role. Use dominant words and verbs like these: “played a key role in”, “controlled”, “worked on”, “contributed”, “achieved”, “suggested”, “received”, “experienced / competent in”, “confident”, etc. Employers and HR agents like candidates who take the responsibility and use these words. However, we do not recommend saying lies or exaggerate your job experience.
Tip 9 – Use the STAR approach when using examples in response to interview questions
The STAR structure (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) is a well-known interview response technique that allows you to answer questions by setting an example. This is a method that all HR professionals know and like. In a nutshell, it is described as follows:
- Situation is a situation or problem that confronted you.
- Task is how you translated the problem into a task that can be approached.
- Action is how you solved this problem.
- Result is what you learned from this situation: experience and understanding.
You can say something like the story that follows. “When I was a sales representative with an online store, I was once approached by a customer. This customer had been working with us for a long time and he had been a loyal client. However, that time he demanded a large discount saying that otherwise he will terminate his contract with our store. He insisted on the discount and said that we were a bad provider with too high prices. I could not just give him the discount since this would mean a financial loss for our company but I neither wanted to lose this client. After his sales research I came up with a gradual discount plan depending on sales volume for this client. The plan was approved by my manager. And after I offered it to the client, he was happy with it since it was good for the both sides. This situation gave me the understanding that there could be different ways to satisfy customer’s demands that could be mutually beneficial and we just need some imagination to find them.”
Practice the STAR approach carefully so you can use it for a job interview. We can say this again: STAR is a valuable method to make examples of your working experience and HR agents like it. So, make sure to use it!
Tip 10 – Control your non-verbal signals and body language
Your body language will give your potential employers a lot of information about you. Interviewers probably won’t look at it explicitly (unless something is too bad that it’s impossible not to notice it), but they subconsciously note the nuances during the entire interview.
Here’s what you should remember when you’re trying to control your body language:
- your facial expression. Psychologists found that the most trustworthy facial expression involved a slight raise of the eyebrows and a slight relaxed smile. This expression, the researchers suggested, conveys both friendliness and confidence. This is exactly what interviewers look for.
- eyes gaze. When a person looks directly into your eyes while having a conversation, it indicates that they are interested, attentive and confident. Avoid looking away from interviewers or blinking too often since this conveys nervousness.
- mouth expression. As we mentioned above, a slight relaxed smile is the best mouth expression. Avoid lips biting, covering your mouth or pursed lips movement.
- arms and legs. Crossing your arms can indicate defensiveness and uncertainty. Crossing legs away from another person may indicate dislike or discomfort with something. Rapidly tapping fingers or fidgeting looks as if you are bored, impatient, or frustrated. Avoid crossing arms or legs or making any small nervous movements.
An interview is usually the last stage of pre-employment selection after which an employer makes the decision who will take the vacancy. We recommend you carefully preparing for all stages of selection: submitting your resume, aptitude tests, assessment and job interviews. Preparation is the guarantee of success.
Read more about job interview tips in our article: