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Tips to nail that job interview
by Jay Gutman
2014-11-03 10:50:29
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I’ve been to several job interviews over the years. I’ve compiled a list of tips that can be universal and apply anywhere around the world.

1. If you’ve been called for a job interview, it probably means the recruiters found something attractive about your resume. Re-read your resume and do some research about the company, try to find out what they thought was attractive about your resume. It’s usually at least two or three skills that match their expectations. For example a company could be looking for editing, public speaking and sales skills which you all have.

2. Consistency is the key. Don’t lie, don’t exaggerate facts, don’t hide facts but you don’t have to be judgmental either. If there’s a gap in your resume that you’re asked about, simply say that you were actively looking for a job during that period.

3. You shouldn’t mention jobs you’ve had that would not recommend you in the first place. If you got fired from a previous job, quit a job and did not get along with people there, don’t mention it in your resume. If you did and you are asked about it during the interview, simply say “That job was a long time ago. I don’t remember much about that job. I’m not in contact with anyone there.”

4. It’s good to practice answering questions with a list of questions and recording yourself, but you should not underestimate improvisation skills. Here’s how an interview actually works: in most cases it will start with small talk about how you got to the interview, the city you come from, or the school you went to, followed by a few related questions. Recruiters tend to improvise questions rather than rely on a script, though some recruiters do have semi-structured interviews. So in most cases the interview will look like a long conversation rather than a short, scripted interview.

5. Don’t forget the recruiter is a human being and that you’re interacting with a person. Make eye contact and engage in the conversation. Different recruiters have different personalities and expectations, so don’t memorize answers to your question beforehand. Some recruiters can be curious and chatty and will expect long answers to their questions, some will actually do more than half the conversation during the interview, some will actually try to befriend you if they like your personality, while others are cold and distant and expect very short and concise answers to their questions.

6. Dress appropriately depending on the job. Showing up with a suit for a low-paying bar-tending position does not make sense. You shouldn’t wear jeans for a high paying sales position either. Be positive regardless of the job. Don’t make it sound like you are overqualified or underqualified for the job.

7. Sometimes you could be the best and still not get hired. Some companies expect your degree to be completed, when they find out during the interview that you have a semester or two left. Some companies expect at least 5 years’ experience and a solid knowledge of the area, when you may only have been around for a year or two.

8. Practice conversation rather than practicing questions you get off the internet. The interview is a conversation. You can’t learn how to make good conversation after practicing with two or three people. It’s a lifelong skill. Spend your high school or college years socializing as much as you can and making lots of conversation. Meet lots of strangers and engage in conversation with them. That’s how you will naturally become good at it.    

9. Do try to get an idea what you could be asked by looking at typical interview questions before hand, so you can get an idea what you might be asked and think about some of the answers. Some questions might be questions you’ve never been asked or thought about before. Get a list of questions and think about possible answers. But don’t spend more than a few ours looking at questions, don’t type or memorize answers. A lot of times very few of those questions will actually be asked during the interview, and even those questions from the list will have a slight variation. For example “please introduce yourself” is often asked in different ways such as “you went to college and worked for two years, how would you describe those experiences?”

There is no standard format for job interviews. Never underestimate the fact that you’re interviewing with another person, not a machine. Look out for what time you’re interviewing (people tend to be tired in the morning, grumpy right before lunch, sleepy right after lunch, tired but happier and more excited in the afternoon). If given the choice choose to interview in around 3 or 4 PM. Also be mindful that most companies don’t have a specific position for “recruiters” who do the interview. Sometimes the person in charge of hiring decisions will interview you, sometimes the person will be a lower ranking person who will have to report how the interview went to a supervisor. You might have a panel of interviewers or an individual interviewer. Don’t worry about those factors, just be yourself and practice conversation skills and you should be fine.

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