If you’re interviewing your first internship or your fifth job, interviews will always be somewhat daunting. That’s normal, as there’s something important on the line – whether it’s your first professional job or the next big career move. Nowadays, we are required to jump through more hoops to secure a job. Even small companies have multiple interviews and tests to make sure you are as good as you say you are.
While we can’t promise that there’ll be no butterflies or mess-ups, we have some tips that will help you be more interview-ready.
1. Do your homework
First things first, do your research.
But what type of research? Yes, you should aim to learn as much as you can about the company before you go for an interview. This will also help you understand whether the job is right for you. But in the universe of information available online, it is important to recognise the crucial things that you should look out for beforehand. Things like company values and culture, brand positioning, and competitor landscape are some examples (more here). You might also score some brownie points if you cite recent company initiatives or projects in your interview.
You might envision working at a trendy Google-style start-up campus, but the reality of most up-and-coming businesses can be very different, so make sure you know what you’re putting your hand up for before you say: “Pick me!”
Having past industry experience can also make a world of difference. Even for university students, if you have a rough idea of which industries and job roles you may be interested in in the future, you can start reaching out to some of the companies you would like to work for, and see whether you can get involved as an intern or part-time resource. The more bite-sized bits of experience you have, the better.
2. Taking tests is inevitable
If you thought your days of mugging for tests and assignments were over – they’re not. At least not entirely. When it comes to getting sought-after roles, you still have to be a good test-taker. Nowadays, tests come in different formats. Your interview ‘test’ could be anything from a numerical reasoning test, to a business presentation, or even a full-day workshop. The important thing is to be prepared and you might expect to go through a few rounds of tests.
Some companies have rather innovative approaches when it comes to recruitment, especially when it comes to talent/graduate programmes. Interviewees may have to undergo a rather rigorous interview process before being hired, so do be prepared!
3. Be flexible
Experienced recruiter Jenny Chan from tech start-up Carousell points out that she can often tell if someone is right for the job after a mere ten minutes of chatting.
At the other end of the scale, some interviews could last for up to two hours.
When you’re job hunting, you may be expected to take a whole day out of your schedule or to appear on video chat at a moment’s notice. Be flexible – being willing to take a call at short notice will help you demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role.
4. Don’t be too serious
At the end of the day, we are all human beings. Humour, honesty and being genuine goes a long way when it comes to making a good first impression. Your aim is to connect with the people interviewing you, so feel free to crack (appropriate) jokes, make them laugh and let your personality shine through.
Be sure to answer questions honestly (well as honestly as possible) so your interviewer gets to know you as a person. Nothing is worse than coming across as disingenuous and fake. Do also share personal experiences and the learnings that come with them. We cannot stress how important authenticity is in this aspect.
5. Look the part
Dressing well shows confidence and professionalism. A general rule is that being ‘overdressed’ is better than being ‘underdressed’. Most interviews will call for either business professional or business casual attire. The former includes clothing like suits and skirt suits with closed court shoes, while the latter could include a button-down shirt and dress pants for men, or a fitted blouse and pencil skirt for women. Invest in a quality suit that fits well, go for a nice pair of closed shoes and keep your hair neat. Err on the side of caution when it comes to making fashion decisions in this case. For example, ladies, bandage skirts are never interview appropriate. PS: Don’t forget to go easy on the perfume or cologne.
6. Clean up your social media profiles
For employers looking to hire, a candidate’s digital identity matters too. So, put those Facebook stalking skills to good use and do a thorough check on your own social media profiles. Make sure you haven’t posted anything inappropriate, and of course, that you haven’t been tagged in any NSFW memes.
Like it or not, recruiters will do their background research by checking your social media profiles, blog posts and forum comments. “To a certain degree your social [life] is a reflection of you,” Jenny says. “We are looking not just for skills, but also a good culture fit.” So, clean it up, or keep it private (if you’re not sure what’s clean).
You got this!
In any professional setting, especially a job interview, nerves are not your friend.
At job interview time – think of the three P’s – preparation, presentation and personality. And while your main focus should be on demonstrating that you are a perfect fit for the role, a smart appearance and a confident smile will make that all-important first impression.
Back these up with examples of your past achievements and an understanding of the company and you’ll be a lot more likely to hear…