How to Succeed at a Job Interview - alis (2024)

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  • #Interviews

You've got the interview! Now you want to make the kind of impression that will get you the job.

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There’s a lot to keep in mind during the interview process. To help keep on top of everything, follow these 4 Ps for interview success:

  1. Prepare
  2. Practise
  3. Present
  4. Participate

1. Prepare yourself

Chris had an interview for a position as an airline ticket agent. He felt confident that he could do the work because he had reviewed the duties and working conditions and knew that his biggest challenge would be dealing with difficult customers. In a previous job as a shelf stocker in a grocery store, he often had to help customers. He also believed he was outgoing, courteous, and could get along well with others. He wanted to show the interviewer that he could bring the knowledge, attitudes, and skills he had learned in the past to this position.
Chris asked his previous store manager to help him prepare for the interview. Together they developed a list of typical interview questions. Chris practised answering the questions until he felt comfortable expressing himself clearly. To show he could deal with challenging situations, he thought of specific examples of how he had responded to difficult customers in his previous job. He researched the airline and its competitors so that he would be knowledgeable about the industry. He read the occupational profile for airline ticket agent and thought about a few questions he wanted to ask at the interview about training and relocation requirements. He knew that grooming was important when working with the public,
so he chose his clothes carefully. After double-checking the time and location of the interview, Chris felt confident he had done everything he could to prepare.

Chris

How to Succeed at a Job Interview - alis (1)

©

iStockphoto/Nattakorn Maneerat

Making sure that you’re ready for your interview will boost your confidence and help you do well. Here’s how:

  • Know Yourself. You should be able to describe how your skills, interests, and values match those of the organization.
  • Research the company. This shows that you care about this job enough to learn about the company’s mission statement, products, and values. Check out their latest annual report or news releases and understand how they relate to the position you are being interviewed for. You might find this information online, but you can also call or visit, and ask for brochures or other publications.
  • Understand the job. Ask their human resources or hiring manager for a detailed job description. You can find out more about the job from someone who works there. Or talk to someone in your network who does similar work.
  • Put yourself in the interviewer’s position. Write down questions you would want to ask a potential employee. Research your answers. Make sure you're prepared for these common interview questions.
  • Anticipate the employer’s concerns. The Alberta Human Rights Act protects workers against discrimination on grounds such as age, race, religion, and family status. But you might anticipate that some employers could be concerned if you have a criminal record, lost your last job, or don’t speak English well. Be ready to answer questions about these things.
    • Employers want to hire people who are positive and enthusiastic. Taking responsibility for things you might have done wrong shows a positive attitude. This is what most employers are looking for.
  • Review your resumé. Choose which of your strengths and abilities match what’s needed for this job so you can point them out in the interview.
  • Identify your accomplishments. Be ready to talk about them in a way that shows hiring managers you can do what’s needed. The STARS method is ideal for this. STARS will help you prepare examples that will showcase your talents.
  • Create your own list of questions or key points about the job posting or the employer. For example, list 3 things you want to know about the job or the organization. Don’t ask simple questions you should know the answers to.
  • Prepare the people you’ll use as references. Let them know what job you’re applying for and how to sell your abilities. Bring a reference list to the interview in case you’re asked for one.
  • Note the interview location. Figure out how to get there and know how long the trip will take. Then add an extra 15 minutes to your travel time.

2. Practise what you’ll say and how you’ll say it

Confidence comes from knowing what you need to do. This saves you from scrambling for answers and reduces your stress. The best way to boost confidence is to rehearse what you’ve prepared. Here’s how:

  • Review the questions and answers you prepared. Decide which situations would make good responses to the questions. The STARS method can help you outline your accomplishments in a way that tells a story, which is an easy way to remember details.
  • Practice your answers out loud. Try not to memorize your responses. You want to sound as if you’re having a conversation. Record your answers so you can hear how you sound.
  • Watch your body language. Practise in front of a mirror to check your posture and facial expression. Make sure you:
    • Keep your head, back, and shoulders upright but relaxed. Your posture shows your level of confidence.
    • Smile when it’s appropriate.
    • Make eye contact.
    • Sit up straight with your feet on the floor.
    • Keep your hands still in your lap or on the arms of your chair, except when you're making a point. Resist the urge to fidget or play with something in your hands.
    • Use appropriate hand gestures when responding to a question.
    • Lean forward slightly to show interest. Leaning back can make you seem uninterested, while sitting on the edge of your chair can make you seem tense.
  • Role-play the interview with a friend. Make sure your friend has a copy of your resumé and watches your body language.

3. Present yourself well

Presentation is key. Your interviewers will observe everything about you—your appearance, your attitude, and your body language. Presenting yourself well says you will fit in because you understand the company culture. Here’s some tips to help you make sure you’re ready:

  • Be clean, neat, and well groomed.This is critical.
  • Some companies have scent-free policies, so avoid perfume, cologne, and after-shave.
  • Try to be slightly better dressed than you would need to be on the job. To find out what the dress code is, visit the organization to see what employees are wearing. Or ask the receptionist or someone you know who works there.
    • When interviewing for a creative workplace, such as a graphic design company, wearing a suit may seem old-fashioned or out of touch. You may want to dress with some flair. At a not-for-profit, expensive clothing might send the wrong message. You may need to do more research in these situations to find out what’s appropriate.
  • If you have tattoos or piercings, you’ll need to use your judgment to decide if they’ll pose a problem in the job you want:
    • Consider whether your piercing could pose a health or safety issue at your job. For example, if the work is physical, could a piercing be accidentally torn out?
    • If the industry is conservative (such as accounting or banking) or the position is public-facing (such as receptionist or salesperson), cover up your ink, at least for the interview.
    • If you choose to hide the tattoo and then later you get the job, someone could see it eventually. Instead, mention it at the interview and ask if it’s likely to be a problem. This tells the interviewer that you care about the company’s culture and values, and that you have integrity.
  • Here are more dressing tips:
    • Avoid fabrics that will wrinkle after you’ve ironed them, such as linen.
    • Avoid casual clothing, such as running shoes, t-shirts, and hats.
    • Pay attention to details, such as missing buttons.
    • Avoid clothing that is see-through, flashy, too short, or too tight.
    • Wear solid, neutral colours rather than busy or bold prints.
    • Make sure your shoes are clean and in good repair.
    • If you have trouble walking in high heels, wear flats.
    • Keep jewelry and accessories understated.
    • If you’re unsure, ask people you trust for feedback on your clothing choices.
  • Show up on time. Arriving late makes a bad impression before the interview has even started.
  • Turn off your cellphone when you arrive and leave it off until you leave.
  • Take 3 deep breaths just before entering the interview room. This will help you relax and look more confident.
  • Be positive. Leave any emotional baggage about past interviews or bad work situations at the door.
  • When you meet the interviewer,make eye contact, smile, and take the initiative to shake hands and introduce yourself. Grasp the interviewer’s hand firmly (not just the fingers) and give the standard two shakes.
  • Stay standing until you’re offered a chair.

4. Participate fully in the conversation

The interview is your chance to show your positive attitude and your communication skills.These suggestions can help you shine:

© iStock.com/nortonrsx Look for Work What to Do After an Interview The tough part’s over. But you can improve your chances of getting the job and prepare yourself for future interviews by doing a few more things.
  • Use a pen and paper to make notes, rather than a laptop or other device.
  • Follow the interviewer’s lead. Even unusual or what you think are irrelevant questions get asked for a reason.
  • Listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately. If you don’t understand a question, politely ask the interviewer to rephrase it. If you don’t know the answer, say so.
  • Take a moment to think before you answer a question. You can also ask to come back to the question later in the interview if you need more time to think about your answer.
  • Take initiative if you need to. While it’s a good policy to follow the interviewer’s lead, sometimes the best approach is to gently guide the conversation to make sure the employer sees how your qualifications relate to the job.
  • Be pleasant, sincere, and direct.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Avoid answering with only “yes” or “no.” Try to figure out what the interviewer wants to know and answer with that in mind.
  • Follow up after the interview. Send a thank-you note or email. In it, emphasize 2 or 3 reasons why you’re the best person for the job.

First impressions matter. Following these 4 Ps will help you look confident and capable and show that you’re a good fit for the position.

How to Succeed at a Job Interview - alis (2024)

FAQs

How to Succeed at a Job Interview - alis? ›

Prepare answers to questions about you and your abilities

What are the 5 C's of interviewing? ›

These 5 Cs stand for Competency, Character, Communication Skills, Culture Fit and Career Direction. 1. Competency - having the requisite technical skill in performing the task is the key. Detective Tip: giving technical assessment during interview.

Why should we hire you? ›

A: When answering, focus on your relevant skills, experience, and achievements that make you the best fit for the role.You should hire me because I am a hard worker who wants to help your company succeed. I have the skills and experience needed for the job, and I am eager to learn and grow with your team .

What are the 3 P's of a successful interview? ›

In order to succeed in any interview, you should focus on the 3 Ps essential to an interview- preparation, practice, and positivity. Preparing extensively around the 3 Ps will help you give an edge over other candidates and increase your chances of getting hired.

What is the rule of 3 in interviewing? ›

If you want to appear knowledgeable or otherwise prepared in a job interview and not embarrass yourself, try to know at least three different facts about anything that you claim to have knowledge of—whether you are the one being interviewed or doing the interviewing.

What are the six Ps of an interview? ›

Landing an interview doesn't mean landing the job, because selling your skills and abilities depends on you: Prepare, Practice, Presentation, Powerful Interview, Post-Interview, and Ponder the Position are the six Ps that ensure the best possible outcome for you and the interviewer.

What is the star method when interviewing? ›

“STAR” is an acronym for “Situation-Task-Action-Result.” This method structures your answers to ensure you're highlighting job-relevant skills and showcasing how you used them.

What is the best answer to tell me about yourself? ›

The best way to answer "Tell me about yourself" is with a brief highlight-summary of your experience, your education, the value you bring to an employer, and the reason you're looking forward to learning more about this next job and the opportunity to work with them.

What are your three weaknesses? ›

Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

How do you ace an audit interview? ›

Practice audit interview questions responses

Be sure to sound natural when sharing your responses during the interview by using the STAR method , which is an acronym for situation, task, action and result. This method helps develop strong examples to interview questions.

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