How to succeed in a job interview

How to prepare for a job interview and what to bring?

Read about the company on the Internet, explore its social media pages, and see if any of your acquaintances work there. If someone does, ask them about the corporate environment, your potential superior, and your future interviewer. If you have used the company’s products or services, recall this experience in detail and think of what could be improved. You can mention it at the interview, for instance, when answering the question “Why do you want to work at our company?” An insightful suggestion will set you apart as a potentially loyal employee with clear-cut goals who does not need their tasks spoon-fed to them.

Take four or five copies of your CV, a portfolio if you have one, a notepad, and a pen. In the notepad, write down your questions to the employer, which you will need at the end of the interview.

What do I wear?

Prepare your outfit in advance. Check if the company has a dress code. In any case, your clothes should be clean and ironed, and your footwear polished.

How do I act?

Make sure you are not late. Check the route in advance and arrive ten minutes early. Be polite and friendly to all employees, from the guard at the door to your interviewer. Switch off your mobile phone.

When you meet the recruiter, establish eye contact, smile, greet them, and introduce yourself. During your conversation, refrain from touching your hair and face or fidgeting. If your nerves are getting the better of you and movements are hard to control, grab a pen, but do not click the button or fiddle with it. If offered coffee, tea, or water, say yes: if a question catches you unawares, you can take a sip and win a couple of seconds to come up with a good answer.

Make sure to memorize your interlocutor’s name and address them by the name a few times during the interview. Listen to the questions attentively and never interrupt. A slight nod will show that you are following.

How do I tell them about myself?

Prepare the narrative in advance and practice reciting it. Give a brief overview of your life: your age, education, and previous work experience. Answer questions sincerely and in a positive manner without going into too much detail. Refrain from describing things unrelated to your future work.

Prepare answers to standard questions about your plans in five years and what sets you apart from other candidates. Your questions should be concise and well-structured because an engaging, consistent narrative will demonstrate that you are a thoughtful person with strong communicative skills.

List your relevant personal qualities with examples of specific situations where you demonstrated them. You can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) technique. Adaptability, creativity, and management and teamwork skills will always give you extra points.

When describing your previous professional achievements, do not overuse the pronoun “we.” Even if you are a team player, the recruiter is interested in your own ability to make responsible decisions.

Speaking about your future plans, remember to mention that you want to grow in the chosen field, to build your professional network, and to develop horizontally — for instance, by gaining new skills in adjacent areas.

How do I answer “trick” questions?

Unexpected questions at job interviews are part of the deal. This is how recruiters gauge your reaction and ability to handle your emotions. If you failed to understand the question, do not hesitate to ask for clarification. If you still cannot come up with a good answer, try not to panic. Ask for some time to consider: “This is a good question. I’ve never really thought about it. Can we go back to it at the end of the interview?” or simply “I need some time to think.”

Some of the recruiter’s questions may require careful deliberation, for instance, about your conflicts with your former boss or what you disliked about your previous employer. Avoid criticizing your ex-colleagues at any cost. An example of an acceptable answer would be “I’d rather I hadn’t had to deal with work-related issues outside of my working hours.”

The question about your flaws does not require sincerity; it is a way of testing your self-esteem. Do not sound defensive or mention such blatantly positive flaws as “I’m a workaholic” or “I tell the truth no matter what.”

Speak of your weaknesses as opportunities for growth: for instance, you hate to make presentations, but you are taking a course in public speaking. Or that you tended to take on too many responsibilities when working on a project and sometimes failed to meet the deadline because of that, but now you always start with detailed planning and priority setting.

What should I ask my employer about?

As the interview draws to a close, your interlocutor may ask if you have questions. You can use this opportunity to prove your interest in the position yet another time. Ask about specific tasks you are expected to tackle if you get the job, what you would be responsible for, and whether the company offers career growth. Find out what your interlocutor likes best about the company and what they would recommend to a new employee. Leave questions about your working hours, paycheck, sick leaves and remote work until the very last moment.

The job interview is over. What next?

Smile and thank your interviewer for their time. Ask how long the company will take to make the decision about your employment and when you can learn the result. Check if it is all right to give them a call and when the best time is. If you like the conditions offered, do not hesitate to mention it (without grovelling or excessive enthusiasm): “You have a very nice working environment and interesting tasks. I hope to meet you again — as a colleague.”

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