When looking for the next step in your career, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you are called in for a job interview, because you really want or need that job.
For most people, job interviews are extremely stressful experiences, making them lose focus on the most important things.
Sure, looking neat and professional is important but not as important as the following things.
Do your homework
This applies even before sending your CV to a company. I would never send my CV or freelance offer to a company without doing a background check on it.
These days all the job posts make most companies look like the best companies to work for when that’s rarely the case.
One of the main tools that I use is LinkedIn. You should always check the company profile on LinkedIn. This tells you a lot about them — from the quality of posts they share, how often they share and how many followers they have.
Check the employees, both current and past in your location and other locations, if the company has several locations. This will give you a great overview of employee turnover.
If, for example, you are applying for a Marketing Manager position, and the current Marketing Manager has been with the company for 6 months and the previous Marketing Manager stayed for 9 months, maybe there is an internal issue that makes people leave, so you might reconsider accepting that job interview.
Also, checking the background of the people working for that particular company gives you a great overview of how demanding that company is.
The most important people that you want to check on LinkedIn are the people that are going to interview you.
Their profile is a great tool for finding shared connections or companies that you both worked for. This makes for a great icebreaker and gives you a lot of chit-chat topics.
Other social media channels, such as Facebook or Instagram, depending on the industry of the company you are going to interview with, should not be neglected either.
They give you an insight into the company culture, their internal events and other things alike.
Another very important indicator of a company is its website. Regardless of the size of the company, every company nowadays should have a website.
If done properly, the website should tell you everything you need to know about the company. When they were established, what exactly is their business, who are their clients, where do they operate, etc.
What’s your added value to the company?
After doing a thorough research of the company, you should have a clear picture of the importance of the role you will be interviewing for.
This will help you to better position yourself as a candidate and use your experience to explain how you would be able to help the company if they hire you.
For example, if you are invited for a Business Development job interview, once you know from their website who their current clients are, you can have an idea of who their target market is, according to the size and industry of their clients.
With simple research, you can check similar companies to their current clients.
During the job interview, you can mention “I noticed that you work with A, B and C companies, however, Z and Y seem to also be within your target market. Have you previously done business with them, or are they on your target list?”
This will show the recruiter/interviewer that you know what you are talking about and you understand their business model.
For a company, this is priceless because it means you’ll fit in right away and they won’t need to spend a lot of time explaining their business model.
Basically, although it sounds harsh, as an employee, you need to market yourself as a product.
Think about yourself when you buy a product, why do you buy it? What problems do you want the product to solve for you?
Let’s say you want to buy a pair of shoes. You need winter shoes. You will want your new shoes to probably keep you warm, keep the water away, go with the clothes in your closet and probably have a reasonable price.
It’s the same for a company. They want someone who has had similar experience in the past with the role they are hiring for, they want someone to fit in with the current team and also someone whose salary expectation fits within their budget.
Regardless of the role you are being interviewed for, always speak the truth.
Nobody expects, or at least I hope, that you will know everything and you’ll be perfect in all aspects.
Even if you are interviewing for a senior position, it’s absolutely normal not to know everything related to that particular position.
Maybe you’ve worked for smaller companies in the past, different industries or maybe you just didn’t have the opportunity to experience all dimensions of a role.
That doesn’t mean you are inferior and shouldn’t get this job!
Changing industries and companies, in general, can give you so much experience and broaden your vision that personally, I believe someone who changed a few jobs is always an asset.
If something is not clear or you didn’t understand a question, don’t be afraid to say so.
Ask for clarifications and if you don’t know how to answer a question, just be honest about it.
Never excuse yourself though. Explain that you never had a similar situation and you don’t know how to answer that question.
Ask for time to think about your answer, if you want, to what would you do if you were in that situation, even if you didn’t have previous experience for whatever situation they are inquiring about.
Never rush to answer any question. It’s absolutely normal to think about what you want to answer.
Be confident about who you are and about your experience.
Even if you think your experience is not much, it is, otherwise you wouldn’t have been called in for an interview.
Never forget that! If they called you in, it means they saw value in your experience. Now you just need to show them your personality.
Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance. Your experience might be a perfect match for what they are looking for, but if you are arrogant, your chances are minimal.
It’s a fine line and difficult to balance, however it can be done. Be aware of your value and show willingness to find solutions without bragging.
For example, they would ask, “would you be able to find a solution to x problem?” This is a tricky question, as it is a closed question, meaning you can answer with yes or no.
Answering with yes and leaving it there would show arrogance.
Answering with “in my previous role as Operations Manager with x company, we had a similar problem. The way I tackled it, was by doing x, y and z” shows that you do know how to sort out the problem because you had a similar previous experience and you give arguments for that.
You are confident without looking arrogant.
Easier said than done — I know, I’ve been there. Job interviews can sometimes be nerve-wracking.
Even if you are desperate to get this job, never forget to be friendly and smile. I know everybody says this, but it is one of the most important things.
This can make the difference between your CV being thrown to the garbage after you leave the interview and getting a second call or even an offer.
Always look at the people interviewing you as if they will be your future colleagues.
You want to make sure that they perceive you as a good potential colleague. Nobody wants to work with someone who never smiles.
Even if you are stressed and feel overwhelmed, you can be honest about it and say you are excited about being invited for this interview because you always followed this company or whatever made you apply for a job with that company and smile.
This will help you feel more relaxed and they will feel that you are human, not just a number.
I cannot stress enough about the importance of dressing appropriately.
This doesn’t mean wearing a suit, but wearing whatever fits the company culture. If your research is done the right way, you will know exactly how to dress for the interview.
You do not want to be underdressed or overdressed.
They are equally embarrassing. Wearing a suit for a job interview with a company where people are extremely casual, will probably make you look like you are not a good fit.
If the company is not a huge corporation or a bank, where you usually need to wear a suit, and you’re still not sure what to wear, you will probably not go wrong with a dark pair of jeans, a shirt, and a blazer.
If they are casual, you can just lose the blazer while waiting to go in.
Corina is a Digital Marketing and SEO Specialist with more than 12 years of experience, having worked in 9 different countries. She is the owner of Chasing our Financial Freedom, a career advice blog for millennials. She’s hoping that her blog will make it easier for fresh graduates and entry level professionals to navigate through the process of looking for a job, attending job interviews and eventually landing the job of their dreams.
Contributor writers at TUN are academic professionals, thought leaders and industry experts who have stories or wisdom to share.