General Interview Skills
Be On Time
Never arrive late for an interview. Allow extra time to arrive early in case you get lost. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the interview.
Do Your Research
Researching the company before the interview will give you the edge. Find out as much information about the company- services, customers, products – as possible by consulting the website. The more you know, the better your chances to sell yourself.
Bring along a folder containing extra copies of your CV, certified copies of academic transcripts, identity document, and reference letters.
Practise Good Non-verbal Communication
Demonstrate confidence: stand straight, make eye contact and connect with a good, firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning (or quick ending) to your interview.
Dress For The Job Or Company
Regardless of the style of the organisation with which you are interviewing, it is important to dress formally for an interview to give a good first impression. For more specific guidelines, refer to the dress code and personal appearance section.
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Answer The Question Asked
Often candidates don’t think about whether or not they are answering the question being asked. Make sure you understand the question and get further clarification if you are not sure.
Don’t Talk Too Much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position’s requirements and relating only that information. Give specific examples that highlight your successes and uniqueness. Your past behaviour can influence your future performance.
Don’t Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language
It’s a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation – these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don’t Be Cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you’re putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad as being too reserved.
Don’t Appear Desperate
When you interview with the “please, please hire me” approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Maintain the three C’s during the interview: cool, calm and confident. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, “No.” Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions to demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you’re asked during the interview and asking for additional information. Some general examples include:
- How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
- How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
- Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
- What is the company’s management style?
- Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him/her?
- How many people work in this office/department?
- How much travel is expected?
- Is relocation a possibility?
- What is the typical work week? Is overtime expected?
- What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
- How does one advance in the company?
- Are there any examples?
- What do you like about working here?
- What don’t you like about working here and what would you change?
- Would you like a list of references?
- If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
- What can I tell you about my qualifications?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- Are there any other questions I can answer for you?
The first step is to send a thank you email after the interview indicating your appreciation for the time spent and reiterating your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Whether through email or telephonically, the follow up is one more chance to remind the interviewer of the valuable traits you could bring to the job and the company. You don’t want to miss a chance to market yourself (in a humble way)!