After being unemployed for almost five months, I had my fair share of interviews and it was incredibly frustrating because I simply wanted a job, and I kept getting so close but just missing out on the opportunity or sometimes, it wasn’t the right fit. In today’s post, I’m going to share what I think are my best tips in order to come across the best in a job interview and throughout the looking-for-a-job process.
Learn about the company.
At first, I thought this was the most obvious advice but I have heard quite a few stories of interviewees going into job interviews with their possible employer, and when asked “What do you know about our organisation?” They have simply said, “Only what’s on your website.” As respect to not only yourself, but to your potential employer, you should do your research. They have probably filed through dozens, if not hundreds of people to offer you an interview, and for you not to do your research; that opportunity could have been given to someone else. Even if you don’t understand what the company does, you could say that you have looked online and conducted research, but you would like a better understanding of what they do. That shows that you are interested in learning more.
Ask at least one question at the end.
Asking a question at the end of the interview is advice I got constantly, from people in real-life to online resources and when you put it into practice, you can see why. Your interviewer hasn’t necessarily have a wall built up because there’s a change when you turn the tables on them. You don’t have to ask anything complicated nor should you make it completely personal but I think it’s important to ask something which is relevant to the company. I prefer to ask “What do you like about working here?”, “Where would you like to see the company in five years?” or “Is there anything on my CV you would like to ask me about?” This also gives you a little break towards the end, to take a breath and breathe, because interviews are nerve-wrecking and it’s nice to have that little moment of space while they’re answering YOUR questions.
Dressing appropriately can be a tricky one sometimes because if it’s smart casual; it’s easier for men (I believe) than women. I’m not saying you have to go out and buy yourself a brand new wardrobe but dressing appropriately for the job you have applied for, will come across to the employer that you are taking an interest. I wouldn’t turn up in a pair of trainers and tracksuit bottoms but I’m not going to turn up in a pair of heels that I can’t walk in either, in order to seem professional because it might have the opposite effect.
Bring your experience into your answers.
You can Google as much as you like about a certain job role, but if you can’t describe on how you would either handle a certain situation or how you have tackled a similar situation before, it can be hard to persuade employers. They’re looking for experience and I know it’s tough if you don’t have any but you can usually think of something in your life where you have been in charge. For example, if you’re coming out of school and straight into a job, you can use your role in a team for coursework to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of being in a group and how you would handle it differently next time. If you volunteer, you can talk about some of the issues that can come up during this, or if you’re coming from another role, you can talk about taking on the responsibilities in that job and how you were able to take control.
Show your personality.
I remember some of my first interviews and while I don’t think I necessarily did a bad job at presenting myself, I know the reason why I wasn’t at the top of their list. I was too tense; I was too concentrated on the answers I was giving and I didn’t give myself time to think about the answers. I constantly had a dry throat and one time I was so nervous, I had the bottle of water poured into the cup before the interviewers even said “There is water there for you if you need it”. You can bet, I felt really embarrassed at that moment. I was starting to get through to the interview stage more and more so that enabled me to feel better about going in each time; it helped that I had a really nicely presented CV that was colourful but not too over the top, I wanted it to reflect my personality. In my interests, I wrote (amongst others things) “eating vegan pancakes” and “drinking all the tea”; now that might not be appropriate for certain jobs but I wasn’t applying to be a doctor or a lawyer so I felt that was suitable. You can be qualified for a role but companies most of the time are also looking for someone who is going to fit into their work environment and be a team player so by showing your personality in a really fun but professional way, I believe it helps in a big way.
Having standards for yourself is something that can be quite hard to balance out especially if you are unemployed and you simply want a job. A problem I had when I was going through this stage, and my boyfriend disagreed with me at the time, was my standards. Now, I’m not saying that I was looking for all the money in the world and thinking I deserved that, because that wasn’t the case. It came down to money and while you might think (and my boyfriend even said this) “I don’t think you’re in the position to be picky about a job when you don’t have one” Fair enough point absolutely but I’m not willing to work for less than what I know I’m worth. I’ll give you an example; there was a job interview I went to that wasn’t very close to where I live so it would require four buses a day so instantly, I was thinking about the commute time and knowing how the Northern Ireland public transport system works, sometimes it’s not on time so you have to factor that in. Another thing was that is was minimum wage; now let me say that I don’t think there is anything wrong with minimum wage but my previous job was higher than the minimum and I also had to think of how I would survive on that. I have my own house which is rented so I have to pay someone each month, I have bills to pay, I have a little kitty to feed as well as myself and I also have to take care of other things around the house. Minimum wage wasn’t going to cover me and at the time, my boyfriend said “it can be something until you get a permanent job” and yes, that’s a perfectly fine point but why would I waste my employers time and more importantly, my own time training up for a job that I wasn’t planning on staying at for less than I could afford and adding in transport costs to that too. It didn’t make sense to me, and Scott disagreed with me greatly on this, but now I’m glad I stood my ground with my point.
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Would you agree with me? What would you advice others to do in a job interview? Let me know either on my Twitter, my Instagram or let me know down below! Thank you so much for reading, I really do appreciate it!