How to nail your next job interview

Interviews can be nerve-racking, but with a bit of preparedness, you’ll blow everyone out of the water.

So, you’ve got a job interview. Your résumé has caught the eye of someone in the right place, you’ve received an email, or maybe a phone call, and set a date. This isn’t your 9:00am class – you’ve actually got to show up, and then some. Here are some hot tips that will help you do more than just get your foot in the door.

Know who you’re talking to

Before any interview, it’s a good idea to do your research on the company so you can demonstrate some real insight into what the company would desire in an employee, and show enthusiasm for the position in general. Jump online and check out the company’s website, social channels, and any media written about them. This will help you understand their values, products and services, competitors, key projects, and clients. Pay particular attention to their mission statement, as this is will help you decide on if you’d like to work with the company in the first place. It’s also smart to read up on the industry in general, so you can understand where the company sits within the wider community.

Plan ahead

Aim to get to the interview site early – try for at least 15 minutes prior – and look up your transport options in advance so you can take traffic into account. You also want to make sure you’ve memorised your résumé and cover letter, and have a printed copy to bring along with you on the day so you’re ultra-prepared for any direct questions you may face. Lastly – and this may seem obvious – but shower before the interview, and avoid any strong-smelling food or perfumes so that whoever meets you can be immediately overwhelmed by your stunning personality, rather than what you last ate. You want to be remembered for your impressive answers and attitude more than anything else.

Make a good first impression

Ensure that you’re dressed appropriately for an interview. This means making sure whatever you’re wearing is ironed, not overly complex, tight, or revealing, and doesn’t have any missing buttons, stains, or rips. And, unless you’re told otherwise, dress for a corporate setting and avoid any fancy colours or patterns. UTS Careers Resource Booking System is a convenient way to borrow a suit or professional outfit if you don’t have one on-hand.

Make sure your mobile phone is turned off or on silent before you go in for the interview, and don’t look at it for the duration of your meeting. Tackle those nerves by taking deep breaths, trying out some power poses, and rinsing your hands under cold water if they’re sweaty. And when it comes to the handshake, try to remember that it’s not a competition about who can crush the other’s hand the fastest. Aim for a firm grip and avoid pulling their hand towards you, or any other more ‘aggressive’ handshake techniques.

In fact, if you want to make a good impression, before you’ve even gotten to the interview, make sure your personal social media channels are air tight - set them to private, or if that’s not possible, ensure that you don’t have any controversial posts displayed. Try to ensure your LinkedIn is also up-to-date, with all your achievements listed.

Answer questions like a pro

Image courtesy of Cordelia Hsu (2018).

Image courtesy of Cordelia Hsu (2018).

Before any interview, try to practice answering interview questions based around the role you’re applying for. Get a friend or family member to test you so that you can get some of your answers down before you even get there. When you’re in an interview, there are three main types of questions an interviewer will ask you: general, situational, and behavioural questions.

General questions are the ones that normally start with things like: “Tell us about yourself”, “What’s your biggest weakness”, or “Why should we hire you?.” If you practice beforehand, these should not cause you too much stress. When answering the dreaded ‘biggest weakness’ question, think of a weakness you have that isn’t directly relevant to the role, and follow up with what you’re doing to improve on it.

Situational questions deal with hypothetical scenarios where the interviewer is trying to test your problem-solving skills. They’ll give you an example of a problem arising and ask what you would do. Your response should be based on your experience and skills, and the research you did on the company.

Behavioural questions ask you to provide an example of something you’ve done in the past, so you can show that you have a specific skill. To answer these questions, use the STAR technique. If you frame behavioural questions like this, then you’re sure to cover all the important elements an employer is hoping you’ll get across.

Make sure to ask questions too

So you’ve answered the interviewer’s questions, the interview is winding up, and your only goal is to dash from the room and have a celebratory cuppa to calm down, right? Not quite. At the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. Your answer should be yes. Use the research you did on the company and the role’s position description to come up with two to four questions so that you’ve got a backup if they answer any during the interview.

Then, after you leave, send them a nice email or card thanking them for their time, and referencing something you spoke about in the interview. This will really solidify that good first impression, and leave everything on a – literally – positive note.

This article was produced in partnership with UTS Careers. For more career-related information, advice, and job listings, head to UTS Career Hub.

This article appeared in The Comma’s 2018 Annual Edition. Read more here.