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You recently just graduate and you need to find your first serious job. Maybe you had some part-time jobs in the summers, did some volunteering but now you want a job in your field. Any young person goes through a lot of emotions and even stress when they have to present themselves at interviews. The best thing you can do to succeed in a job interview is to be prepared. That means to know how HR professionals think and what they are searching in their feature employee.
To help you get ready for this challenge, we reached out to three career experts and asked them:
What is your best advice to succeed in a job interview?
This is the fifth part of our interview series on this topic. Check out part 4 here.
Annette Y. Harris – Show UP
Annette Harris is the President & Founder of ShowUp! She is a personal brand and executive presence coach, certified image consultant and personal stylist, whose purpose, passion, and priority lies in helping professionals “show up” and excel in their careers and beyond by projecting the image and personal brand they desire.
First and foremost, you have got to assume that the vast majority of the candidates interviewing for any given position has the required skills and experience to do the job – this is the status quo.
To show up (as opposed to being status quo), stand out and succeed an in a job interview, you’ve got to know, own, and effectively communicate your unique value proposition. The interviewee needs to be clear about what problem you are able to solve and/or benefit you will bring to the company or organization if you are hired and how this is different from the next candidate.
Second, you need to be able to nail your answers to any standard interview questions you are asked. Click To TweetFor example, tell me about yourself; what are your strengths and weaknesses; tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult person or that you failed; and what did you learn, why are you interested in this position, why are you leaving your current company, what is your salary expectation etc. You don’t want to look like a “deer caught in headlights.”
And third, you should do your research on the company or organization above and beyond a cursory review of their website and be well-versed on the position description. Then, during the interview, you have to strategically connect the dots between your knowledge, experience, strengths and value proposition and the company and the position.
Amelia Chan – HR-Options
Amelia Chan provides HR and immigration expertise to corporate and individual clients. She believes success is “All about the right people” – working together to support, empower and inspire. With her practical solutions and easy going approach, Amelia knows what works. She partners with clients to create strategic solutions to deal with their immediate concerns as well as address long term well-being.
The key to having a successful interview is to understand the job/company, prepare some flexible stories and connect with the interviewers.
As an HR professional who has recruited extensively and sat through too many painful interviews with candidates who have struggled. I have tried to coax information from the extremely shy and introverted, and sometimes secretly rooted for them in subsequent stages. I know there are many diamonds in the rough who just don’t know how to interview well and have trouble connecting.
Job hunting can be stressful. Interviews can be intimidating for folks who don’t do them very often or put a lot of pressure on themselves. Even seasoned “interviewers” can feel anxiety or nervousness. If managed well, the meeting should really feel like an exploratory conversation. Both parties need to be engaged and as relaxed as possible. I always set the tone of the interview with this in mind – and this advice applies to sitting on either side of the table.
Some key things to focus on when preparing for an interview:
Familiarize yourself with the company and the job. It is surprising how many people apply for jobs they don’t bother to research. Having some understanding of the company/job alone will make you stand out because it shows preparation and enthusiasm. In addition to having things to engage the interviewer with, it demonstrates your interest in the role. More importantly, if you aren’t enthused enough to find out more about this role and how it could impact your future, why bother applying in the first place? Start strong and continue the momentum.
Prepare personal stories to illustrate your knowledge, skill sets or previous experiences.Experienced recruiters use behavioral interview techniques as a predictor of future performance. Click To TweetThe best way to show that you have what it takes to do a particular job is to share how you have performed in the past and/or the transferable skills that you have learned along the way. Personal stories are engaging and show authenticity. And, a well-told story could demonstrate many different traits and qualities. The key is to be prepared to share the information in a way that links with the job requirements.
Find ways to connect. The interviewer is looking for the best candidates for the job. If you have been invited to an interview, you already have some things they are interested in. Build rapport by asking thoughtful questions, sharing your knowledge and showing your enthusiasm. Even if you are nervous around strangers, you are the expert in your own history. Focus on helping someone else get to know a bit better. In addition, be present – listen to understand, lean in (with your body language), and practice direct eye contact to engage.
When the interview process doesn’t go well, both parties lose out. Lack of preparation and confidence can derail an otherwise strong candidate. Some planning and self-awareness can really help open up the communication so the conversation flows better. The interview is the first stage (potentially) in the employment relationship with an organization and may set the course for a new career. Developing personal confidence through engagement helps showcase a candidate’s skills and abilities and enables them to better connect in the interview. Projecting positive energy through self-awareness and focused communication is how a savvy candidate can present themselves in the best light.
I have conducted many interviews and have placed all kinds of candidates. Through the PeopleTalk magazine, I often write to the HR professional and employer audience but I also enjoy sharing knowledge from my side of the table with job seekers. I believe that connecting on a “human” and personal level is the most important way to build rapport.
Tawanda Johnson – RKL Resources
Tawanda is the CEO of RKL Resources, a strategic workplace solutions firm. They focus on Human Resources solutions for private and public sector employers, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Their experienced team of professionals has a solid experience in every functional area of Human Resources.
1. Arrive on time and bring your A game. Make sure you are well rested and that your enthusiasm can be felt a mile away.
2. Answer the questions that you are asked, many times candidates never actually answer the questions that are being asked.
3. When in doubt, ask for clarity. Let’s face it, almost everyone gets nervous during the interview, if you don’t understand an interview question, ask the interviewer to repeat the question.
4. Highlight your strengths and be honest. Don’t say that you have a particular skill if you don’t. This happened recently during an interview where a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) asked a candidate if they had advanced excel skills, the candidate said yes. The CFO administered an excel test, the candidate failed the test. This created embarrassment for the candidate and showed that the candidate lacked integrity.
5. Always have well-prepared questions to ask the person interviewing you.
Thank you so much to the specialists that replied to this interview! If you have any question, please post them below, and we will be sure to reply. Also, don’t forget sharing is caring. Help us spread this post by sharing it with your friends and followers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Minuca is a freelance writer specialized in creating expert roundups. Her posts provide quality content, bring huge traffic and get backlinks. She also helps bloggers connect with influencers. You can contact her at her blog, Minuca Elena.