5 Dos and 5 Don’ts To Ace Your Interview

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The job-hunting process can be long and drawn out. Many people battle their way through CV-writing and application forms, only to fall at the final hurdle. Interviews can be stressful – however, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting the job. Follow these dos and don’ts to find interview success.

Do’s

Be confident

An overly nervous candidate will stick in the interviewer’s mind for all the wrong reasons. If you’re physically shaking and struggling to talk at an interview, how will you cope with pitching ideas to a large team, or meeting with important clients? It’s natural to be a little jittery, but don’t let it ruin your chances of getting the job. If you’re nervous, pretend that you’re not. Take some deep breaths before you go in, smile, and offer a firm handshake. If you’re acting confident, you’ll start to feel confident too.

Do your research

It’s not unknown for interviewers to open with the question ‘tell me what you know about our company’. If you perform poorly on the first question, you’re going to feel stressed and uncomfortable for the whole interview. Research the company thoroughly – check out their website, read any recent news articles about them, and investigate their market and main competitors.  If you know the names of your interviewers, you could even take a look at their profiles on LinkedIn.

Think of questions before you go in

The interviewer will always finish by asking if you have any questions for them. Saying no implies that you’re not interested in the company – and is a sure-fire way to stay unemployed. If you’re worried you won’t be able to remember them, write them down (in a notebook, not on a scrappy bit of paper). Good questions demonstrate either that you’ve researched the company, or are genuinely curious about the role you’ve applied for.

Be polite

It’s important to be polite to everyone you encounter at your interview – from the receptionist to the people you stand next to in the lift. Your interviewer may ask their colleagues what they thought about you – they’re the ones who’ll be working with you, after all. If you’ve made a bad impression on someone, it could harm your chances of getting hired.

Write it down

It may be tempting to walk out of your interview and try to forget about it – particularly if you feel you performed badly. However, it’s important to write down all of the details you can remember, while it’s still fresh in your memory. If you get offered a second interview, you’ll struggle to remember what was discussed – and you don’t want to spend the interview repeating yourself.

Don’ts

Don’t be late

If your interview is in an unfamiliar area, try to do a run-through the day before. If this isn’t possible, give yourself plenty of room for error when setting off. Google maps might say the journey takes half an hour – but that’s without traffic jams and late trains. If there are no delays and you find yourself there early, find a nearby café to wait in. Aim to arrive at the office between ten and fifteen minutes before you’re due to be interviewed.

Don’t lie

Most interviews are based around the information you provided on your CV. Interviewers will pick up on interesting details and grill you about them – if you’ve embellished your credentials, you’re going to find it very difficult to keep the lie going.  Many people ignore this advice – but beware. If you get the job, you’ll have to maintain your lie the whole time you work for the company. If you’ve lied about having a particular skill, it will be evident as soon as you start the job – and your new employer could fire you.

Don’t complain about your last job

Your interviewer might ask you about your previous position – try to be positive, even if you had issues. It’s highly unprofessional to criticise your past employers, and it won’t sit well with your interviewers. Instead, be positive – if you had a conflict with a colleague, explain what you did to overcome it. Demonstrating that you can calmly handle problems in the workplace will impress your interviewers far more than complaining about them.

Don’t sell yourself short

Rather than telling your interviewer that you’re a team player, give them an example of when you’ve worked well as part of a team. Better still, give two – although be sure to keep your answers concise. Some interviewers will encourage you to do this, asking ‘tell me about a time when you…’ questions. However, others will be less forthcoming, meaning that you’ll need to do the work yourself.

Don’t panic

Things often don’t go to plan, no matter how prepared you are. If something does go wrong (you’re late, you give a bad answer to a question, you trip up on your way into the room), there’s no point in panicking about it. It’s already happened and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Take a deep breath, smile, apologise if necessary – and keep going.

 For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Under30CEO.

Image Credit: www.forbes.com 

 

Job Interview Tips: Avoiding Pre-Interview Stress

job interview stressThe stress and worry that accompanies job interviews can potentially cost some job seekers the position. Oftentimes a person’s nerves take over and prevent them from providing the company with quality answers to their questions. No matter their experience, many interviewees sabotage their chances of having a successful job interview because they over think it, or don’t think about it enough because they are too consumed with worry.

Knowing about an interview weeks ahead of time can be beneficial on one hand, but on the other hand it can be detrimental, depending on the person. This is because interviews are all determined based on how well a person handles pressure. Same thing goes for scheduling a job interview that is only a day or two away. To prevent the unnecessary and destructive anxiety that you feel leading up to your interview, consider these following job interview tips:

Gradually prepare

One of the main reasons for stress is the lack of preparation. Whether it’s because you don’t have enough time to prepare or you procrastinated until it was too late, you are going to feel the pressure of trying to remember everything at the last minute.

In the weeks leading up to your job interview, you should be going over your resume and identifying your strengths that you want to highlight in the interview. You should also go over your experience, memorize what your duties were and prepare for any questions you think they may ask about each. Be ready to explain how your skills were utilized at each position and how you made a difference using them.

Know all you can about the company

One of the most common job interview questions involves what you know about the company and why you would be a great fit. Prepare for this question by spending some of your time researching about the history of the company, as well as their products, services and any accolades they have received.

Also think about how your skill set plays well into who they are. If you’ve had experience working in their industry, make sure that they are aware of that and inform them of any contributions you’ve had that has made previous companies successful. Your ability to clearly communicate this is crucial to your success.

Practice, practice, practice

One of the main issues interviewees often have is that their nerves affect them so much that it shows through their body language. Practicing helps you realize how you look, and may help you to notice everything from your body posture to your nervous eye rolling, etc. A helpful tip when you practice is to videotape yourself and then go watch the recording so that you can pick up on anything that you need to fix. In the end it will make you feel more comfortable and you’ll be able to get used to sitting with the right posture and have complete control of your mannerisms.

Don’t be negative

You should never go into an interview thinking about how much you’re dreading it because it will show through the way you speak. Go to your interview with a positive attitude and you’ll be motivated to do well.

The thought of a job interview should not scare you away from doing your best. Preparation is the key to minimizing your stress, so practice memorizing your skills and conduct dry runs of your interview.

Keep in mind that contacting career professionals for tips and advice about the job hunting process can make a substantial difference in your success.

8 Interview Clichés to Avoid

The point of an interview is to show off to the hiring manager how wonderful and unique of a candidate you are.  So why would you waste precious time and words answering questions with clichés?  Unfortunately, when put in a nerve-racking situation, people often freeze up or stumble over their words, and these standard lines are the first things that come to mind.  Here are a few clichés to look out for, and some alternate ways to respond:

1. I’m a Team Player

The ultimate cliché, this one pops up in resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  But what does it really mean?  If you’re a “team player” and really want to get this point across, don’t say this line.  Explain what it is that makes you so great to work with.  Focus on your excellent ability to communicate or your willingness to both lead and follow directions.  Talk about a few instances where you have picked up the slack for someone else without having to be asked.

2. I’m the Perfect Fit

Ultimately this is up to the hiring manager.  Instead of wasting your breath telling them this and expecting them to believe you when they know nothing about you, barrage them with examples of why you’re a great fit.  Then they’ll come closer to making this conclusion on their own.

3. I’m a Hard Worker

Aren’t we all?  Again, saying this really means nothing to the interviewer until you provide concrete examples.  Tell them about all those times when you stayed late, turned work in before its due date, anticipated what needed to get done next, etc.  Make the interviewer really believe that you are a hard worker, because just saying so is not enough.

4. I’m Willing to Do Anything

Often this is the road many people have to take, especially when starting out in entry-level positions.  And while it’s great to have that sort of mentality, you don’t want to sound too desperate in a job interview.  And worse than sounding desperate, you don’t want to imply that the job itself is something you’re “willing to put up with” until you advance on to something better.  Mention specific parts of the job that excite you, and instead of focusing on your willingness to do anything, focus on your desire to do these specific things.

5. I’m a Fast Learner

When you say this, Hiring Managers hear, “I don’t know how to do this“. Saying this makes you sound like you are inexperienced, and that you may be underestimating the level of understanding it takes to do the job.

6. I’m Good with People

That’s exactly what the interviewer is trying to determine in the interview. It’s not just about determining if you have the skills and qualifications to do the job. The interviewer is trying to determine your general demeanor and personal skills, so let them see you in action, don’t simply state it.

7. I’m a very Loyal Person

People who say this are usually overcompensating for holding many jobs in the past, but not staying at any particular job for very long. Candidates who say this are typically concerned that the interviewer will think they’ll get bored and leave soon after taking the position. Instead of saying this, stress how you see this potential employer as a long term career path.

8. I really need this job

Some people think it’s a good idea to talk about their personal life in an interview, and how important it is for their family that they get this job. Even if this is true, do not say it. It only makes you look desperate. The less it seems you need the job, the more valuable you seem to the employer, because other employers want you too.

Clichés hurt you not just because they make you sound less credible, but also because they take away the chance to go into depth and provide specific examples of why you’d be a great hire.  Don’t do yourself an injustice by speaking vaguely with a hiring manager – the specifics will get you much farther.

Outrageous Interview Questions

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Once you land a job interview, you may feel the hard work is done. You might even allow your enthusiasm to melt your inhibitions during the meeting. Don’t let your excitement rob you of a chance for the job you’ve been waiting for. Arm yourself with these key interview strategies that include practicing restraint as well as excellent preparation.

Outrageous

Don’t ask about salary.

  • This question shifts the focus to what you want for yourself as opposed to the value you will provide to the company.

Don’t ask about the timeframe for hiring decisions.

  • Every candidate wants to know the answer to this question but asking it can make you seem desperate or anxious for results. Most companies look for candidates able to separate personal from professional demands.

Don’t ask what the company does.

  • Conducting research on corporate initiatives is easily accomplished online. Do your homework to impress hiring managers.

Don’t ask about typical promotion policies.

  • Rushing ahead to promotions may make the interviewer question your judgment and understanding of appropriate business interactions.

Don’t ask about on-the-job training for basic skills.

  • Emphasize the skills you bring, not the deficits about which you are concerned.

Don’t speak ill of former employers.

  • Talking about how much you hated your former workplace or employer is a top interview “don’t!”

Don’t forget basic manners.

  • Offer a handshake to “seal the deal” when you leave. Thank the interviewer for their time and express your pleasure in meeting him or her.

Acceptable

Do debrief after the interview.

  • Take a few minutes to review on your own what went well and what could be improved. If appropriate, include additional clarification about your skills in a follow-up thank-you note.

Do express interest in the company’s initiatives.

  • Show off what you’ve researched about this company prior to the interview by linking your skills and work history to corporate projects.

Do speak positively about prior workplaces.

  • It can be tempting to bring up negative attributes about employers or co-workers, but this is not the time to identify that as your reason for leaving. Focus on more positive reasons for leaving, which might include a need to reach your full potential or to seek out new opportunities for growth.

Do use every phone or email contact as if it were part of the interview.

  • Essentially every contact is part of the screening process. Practice what you want to say so you are prepared for the unexpected call. For some people, it helps to stand while talking to convey a greater presence or sense of personal power.

Do prepare for the interview.

  • Compile a number of job history anecdotes that exemplify your strengths and help you respond readily to interview questions.

Do end the interview on a positive note.

  • Say something like, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today. My talents and experience represent an asset to your organization and I would be a committed member of your team.”

Solid preparation for the interview will help you avoid asking ridiculous questions. Feeling too comfortable in an interview almost never produces good results. Practice how you want to perform in the job interview just as you would for an important sports event and you will find yourself in the winner’s circle!

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

Doostang News October 11: How to Answer “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

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While many people leave their previous positions simply in search of another opportunity or for logistical reasons, such as moving or needing to cut back on hours, others leave for slightly more complicated reasons, such as an abrasive boss or an unfulfilled promise.  Whatever your reason, there are certain ways to talk about this aspect of your job history so that your experience helps, not hurts you.

Don’t Badmouth Your Employer

This seems obvious, but sometimes people are tempted to put down their previous employer in order to justify a move that seems less logical otherwise.  Some individuals feel that dealing with a bad employer is a character building experience, one that sets them up to succeed more in their next position.  While this may be true, the best candidate in an interviewer’s eyes is someone who can maintain their grace and composure in a less than perfect situation.  When you digress in your interview and start bringing up the bad blood that existed between you and your former boss, you might come across as irrational or vindictive, two qualities that raise red flags for a hiring manager.  Try to speak more diplomatically, focusing on how the company culture may not have been an ideal fit.  You might bring up how you had a different outlook than your boss, but this is still a bit risky – you don’t want to come off as obstreperous.  When you can, try to stick to more neutral points, such as the fact that you achieved all you could at your old job and now you are ready to move on to something new.

Don’t Talk About the Negative Aspects of Your Last Job

Try not to focus on how things weren’t going well at your last job.  Again, you don’t want the hiring manager to associate any negativity with you – it’s important to keep the tone of the interview as positive as possible.  It’s even advisable not to talk about how you weren’t feeling challenged enough, even though this implies that you are ready to tackle tougher projects.  That’s because you don’t want to convey that you won’t stick around when you get bored; there will be times when an employer will need you to complete a project that you may not be excited about.  Overall, try not to come across as someone who won’t be reliable if the job is less than perfect from time to time – you want to seem as flexible as possible.

Don’t Dwell on the Question

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t spend an inordinate amount of time discussing why you left your old job, but rather, should focus on why you want to enter this new one.  The less time you devote to the matter, the less the hiring manager will think about it, and the smaller the odds that your answer will raise any eyebrows.  Simply explain how you are ready to start an exciting, new chapter in your life and that you’re very happy for the opportunity to consider a position like the one they are offering.

When it comes down to it, the main reason hiring managers ask why you left your last position is to figure out if there is anything that they should be wary of in your past.  If you don’t give them any reason to question your integrity or work ethic, but instead focus on how excited you are about the job at hand, this tricky question should have little bearing on your chances of getting the job!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

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Trinity College, 2007
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