Going on job interviews is something almost everyone finds exciting. After all, it's all about getting your desired job. Fortunately, there are several ways you can prepare yourself well for the interview, which will ease your nerves and increase your chances of a successful interview.
In this blog, I explain what you should do best and what you absolutely should not do during a job interview in the areas of:
- Your resume and its relevance
- Preparing for the job interview
- Your appearance and behavior
- Questions for the company/potential employer
Your resume and its relevance
Do; Before applying for a job, it is smart to get your resume in order. During a job interview, you will often be referred to it. Also, make sure your resume is relevant to the job you are applying for and that it is accurate. Are the details current? And does the content of your resume matter for the job you’re applying for?
Don't; Make sure your resume is no longer than two pages is. Dozens or sometimes even hundreds of resumes are reviewed for each open position. A long resume is then not desirable. A short one provides a clear overview which makes it easier to look at. One way to shorten your resume is to name the impact you have made within the organization: what have you achieved in a role instead of describing your role and responsibilities. Mention figures if you can: '10% faster turnaround time of process x achieved' for example.
Preparing for the job interview
Do; Make a checklist of what to bring to the interview and make sure you have your resume to hand. This is because the interviewer may not have it during the interview. In addition, it is smart to see if you have any common connections on LinkedIn. This can be a good icebreaker and take away some of the nerves. It is also smart to write down the questions you want to ask on a notepad. Dare to just put this notepad in front of you on the table, this way you show that you are prepared and it helps as a reminder. Finally, it is wise to come up with a strong pitch about yourself of no more than 5 minutes. If you are asked to tell something about yourself, you have a good story at hand. For the pitch, you can use the following order:
1. Personal about yourself (incl. age, hometown, home situation, hobbies etc);
2. Education and briefly mention an experience relevant to the job opening;
3. What are you looking for? (Match this to the vacancy you are applying for.) This way you have already put down in your personal pitch a strong motivation for the vacancy you are applying for.
Don't; Do not start too late with the preparations for the interview. Unexpected circumstances may cause you to be late for your interview. This leaves a bad first impression and of course you do not want that. Try to be present 15 minutes before the interview.
A job interview doesn’t always go the way you expect it to go. For example, an interviewer may ask a question that comes from an unexpected angle. For example, at Volkswagen they ask what you would do if you inherited your uncle's pizzeria and at AT&T they are curious to know which superhero you would be, if you could choose one. You shouldn't dwell too long on questions like these. Answer as honestly as you can and substantiate your choice. That way the interviewer knows where you stand.
Honesty is often appreciated, but do so at the right times. Sometimes people are a little too honest. If you are asked why you want the job, don't answer ‘My partner wants me to get a job’. This may be the truth, but does not leave the best impression.
Your appearance and behavior
Do; Make sure you look presentable during your job interview. Wear a simple outfit that does not stand out too much so that the focus is on the interview. When greeting the interviewer(s), give them a firm hand; many people snap at limp hands. Sit up straight and make adequate eye contact. Eye contact and smiling will show you are interested in the conversation.
Don't; Don't wear flashy outfits or strong perfume. The focus should be on the conversation and this can cause distractions. Keep your breath fresh during the conversation, but do not chew gum. A mint is a smarter option during a job interview. Nerves during the interview? This is perfectly normal, but be careful not to tap your pen or twitch your foot. Try to stay calm.
Questions for the company/potential employer
Do; During the interview, ask relevant questions. By asking those questions, you show that you are interested in the company and the position you are applying for. Show from your questions that you have done research beforehand and that you are well informed about the latest developments. Social media are a good source for this. Is the interview over? Feel free to ask what impression the interviewer got about you. This can help in subsequent interviews.
Don't; Asking useless questions shows that you are not well prepared and have done little or no research. The questions you ask should encourage discussion of the position. Don't know any questions? Then ask, ‘I saw on LinkedIn that you've been working here for 5 years, what makes you love working here?’ With this you kill three birds with one stone; you show that you have prepared yourself, you get an impression of the atmosphere/culture and you make it personal.
Want to prepare even better for a job interview? Then keep an eye on our website! Next time we will discuss the most frequently asked job interview questions.
René van de Pas is one of our talent managers. In recent years, he has guided numerous colleagues along their career paths.