Life can be very uncertain at but there are few things that are guaranteed, and one of them is going to an interview. Whether you’re a high school student that needs to attend a bursary selection interview, a first-year student that is interested in making extra cash and has applied to be a library monitor or a final year student looking for an internship – interviews are inevitable. They can often be intimidating and anxiety inducing. Although all these emotions are valid, chances are that you will get better at interviews the more you attend them. However, there are certain tips that can make the process of preparation easier.
If you never have been a person that priorities punctuality, now is the time to start. It is extremely important that you arrive early for your interview – at least 15 minutes before. You can never go wrong if you arrive early as this indicates a sense of responsibility and punctuality. This also gives you an opportunity to remain calm, gather all your thoughts and familiarize yourself with the setting which can enable you to conduct yourself with ease. Generally, being early on the day of the interview will work in your favour, especially if you have never been to the location. The idea is that you should always give yourself enough time to get lost or struggle in finding the location.
Be aware of your body language and dress code. Your back and shoulders should always be straight (do not slouch), make eye contact because it creates an impression that you are interested, engaged and confident – the trick is to look above their forehead if eye contact makes you nervous or awkward. Ever heard of the saying, first impressions matter? Well, interviews are no different. First impressions to the interviewer will probably be based on how you look and what you are wearing so dressing professionally appropriate for an interview is extremely critical. Although we do not want to police people’s personal styles and expression of personality through clothing (see “best interview attire for every type of interview”), it is advisable to avoid anything that is too flashy or overly casual like tracksuits that might distract the prospective employer.
There are a few interview questions that you can almost always pre-empt such as “tell me about yourself?”, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Why should we hire you?”, “give a scenario of situation where you had a challenge and how did you deal with it”. It is important to mentally prepare yourself in advance for popular and often asked questions. They might seem easy but when you are under pressure, you’d be surprised at how easy your mind can go completely blank – all sudden you forget who you are and all the achievements you’ve acquired. If your application requires you to submit a cover letter, please study every intricate detail of your cover letter well. In other words, you need to be able to clarify, provide examples and substantiate as the interviewing panel can base question on your cover letter and you do not want to be caught unprepared.
It is advisable to always ask questions at the end of the interview. Maximise this opportunity as best as you can. Your question might be prompted by the interview session. If not, always prepare at least two questions to ask beforehand. Asking questions at the end of the interview demonstrate serious interest in the job and your willingness to excel in the role. It also an opportunity to showcase your ability to lead and initiate. Questions can vary from “Please explain more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?”, “What is the culture of the company?”, “If I were to get the role, when would I be expected to begin?”. Besides demonstrating your interest, asking questions is also an opportunity to determine if the job best fits with your value and schedule.
Lastly, practice and implement these tips with a trusted friend or family member. This can be helpful as they can give you suggestions and advice, teach you how to answer on the spot, how to articulate yourself and the pace too use. As mentioned before, you will get better at interviews the more you attend them so do not be too hard on yourself if one does not go as expected. Instead, use it as learning curve to do even better in the next one.