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Job interview guidelines for the employee

Securing an interview with a company in this day and age is difficult. So when you do secure an interview, it is wise to do your best to make the most of your good fortune. Remember when you apply for a job, so are another 300 people applying for the same position. Don’t underestimate the odds of you being the one to be invited for an interview. Also, don’t underestimate how difficult going for a job interview can be. Any good interview will have you “dance” for an hour or so, where one or more people should be busy scrutinizing your every move to make sure that you are in fact the right candidate for their position. So take it seriously and be prepared. If you are prepared, you are more likely to present yourself in the appropriate manner and leave a good lasting impression. Having a “easy go lucky” attitude about such things could result in you leaving the room very empty handed and the interviewer feeling insulted.

So how can you prepare for an interview?

Start properly at the beginning. Only apply for jobs that are relevant. There is nothing worse for the person doing the short listing for a position to be screening call center agents applying for a MD position. Ambition is good, but realistic goals even better. So make sure that you are something you can offer the position being advertised. Ensure that you can differentiate yourself in some way that will make you a person of interest. But keep it real. Don’t sell yourself as an medical doctor when you only have a first aid certificate. Your CV should be the best representation of your skills; experience and self as possible without being boring or too long winded. Get professional help if you need to it, but present your CV well!

Because you have been selective about the position you have applied for and because you have a good CV / Resume that “sells” all your finer qualities, it is not unlikely that you have now been called in to meet with the key hiring person for that dream job. Don’t blow it now.

Prepare yourself by focusing on the following:

  • Presentation. You have one opportunity to create a good impression, being on time; properly attired; clean and calm are all non negotiable. Sending email confirmation of your appointment, bringing a note book and being organized are all things that should be second nature to you if you have done many interviews in your life time.
  • Research the organization.

Picture this…

You are sitting in front of the hiring decision maker for a Business Intelligence Executive position, and they ask you what you know about their company. Off you go, recalling all the juicy information plastered on their website. You then go onto to say how you have admire how their MD who over the last 10 years has moved the company from being a medium size organization to a large corporate concern You able to highlight their financials over the last few years and provide educated commentary on the year on year improvement in sales and reduction in operating expenses. You rattle on that your greatest aspiration is to work for the MD as he is such a dynamic man that you feel as though you could learn a lot from him and that you too would like to be in his shoes one day.

You must feel pretty good at this point… don’t you?

All except that while doing your homework you failed to look at the latest breaking news, and the hiring decision maker calmly tells you that the MD was arrested for corruption a week ago and that he is now in jail waiting for bail .

OOOPS – how do you recover from that one?

It is important to research an organization well, know the culture and the history but also the current and if possible the future aspirations. You need to know who is who in the organization and any bit of latest publicity about the organization is also critical. Having this information provides you with insights and it is not always necessary to recall everything like a parrot to show you have done your homework. How much more impressive would it have been if when asked what you know about their company you revert with a comment like the following:

“Historically it would seem that the organization had very positive results coming from very progressive sales and least cost operating strategies. Whilst you can see how this has grown the business substantially, your one concern would be how the company plans to respond to the negative impact of the corruption charges posed at the MD and what has the impact been thus far? …”

  • Research the interviewer. Having a view of how the interviewer ticks is always a good thing. Knowing their quirks allows you to model your responses in such a manner that suits or speaks to their way of thinking without changing or compromising the answer itself. Researching a person is one way of trying to get a feel for someone. Reading their body language and speaking patterns is also a good way of assessing how best to respond to the person in a way that is relevant to them. Whatever approach you take, the one thing you need to do is to remain true to is the quality of your responses. At no point get pulled into the need to lie or embellish on your story. Keep things factual and honest at all times. A good interviewer (whilst few and far between) can identify someone who is lying in a heartbeat.

If you are being interviewed by a panel of interviewers then make sure you are aware of their names and titles before the interview. This will enable you to get a view on who would look for what information. When in the interview try and connect with the group as well as the individuals within the group. Respond directly to the people asking the question at the time but involve the entire panel when you answer through eye contact and gestures. Keep your wits about you, sometimes people ask questions simultaneously. If you have a good memory, show this off practically by coming back to the questions in a logical and structured manner – reminding them of their question and then providing them with your answer. If your memory is not as good, make notes and then make sure you respond to each question being asked. Verify if you have provided sufficient response by simply asking…”have I answered your question?” It is wise never to assume that you have understood the context of the question or that your answer was comprehensive enough or too detailed. It is always wise to verify before running ahead.

  • Be aware of the interview traps. Be careful not to fall into the traps of being so well prepared to tell your story that you fail to listen to the questions being asked of you. There is nothing worse for an interviewer who has prepared a set of important categories to explore to receive a candidate who has prepared an irrelevant speech on their good points that have no bearing on the job itself. Be prepared to LISTEN and HEAR what is being asked of you. Don’t get irritated by the questions being asked of you. The panel is doing their job. If they are doing it well, you should feel somewhat scrutinized during your interview process. Don’t argue. Don’t swear. Don’t badmouth your previous manager or employer. Don’t be rude or suggestive in your comments. Don’t be negative about your inability to secure a job.

Lastly, know who you are – good and bad – and be honest about what you can and cannot do. Honesty is the only sustainable way to seek and secure lasting employment.