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The DO’s & DON’Ts of a Job Interview

Do Your Research About The Company

It doesn’t matter how much knowledge or experience you have about the position that you are trying to get in a company if you don’t have a clue who the company is or what they do. It is disastrous to enter into an interview and not be able to tell your interviewer what their company is about. How else are you going to tell them why you feel that you would be a good addition to their company?

Remember, during an interview, you are a salesman. You are there to sell yourself to your prospective employer. You want to market yourself in the most interesting way possible. Great preparation for the interview is your best bet. A salesman that is knowledgeable, friendly and positive always gets the close.

First Impressions

  • Look smart and professional. When it comes to dressing to impress, think more traditional than trendy. No Chewing Gum, Sunglasses on head or hats. Men – shave!
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get there — Do not arrive late or feeling flustered.
  • A firm handshake can make one of the best first impressions
  • Try to relax and be yourself.
  • Be confident and engaging, smile and make eye contact.
  • Focus on answering the questions and, if unsure, ask for clarification rather than answering incorrectly.
  • Keep your answers concise and don’t ramble on. Remember, an interviewer has a lot of questions to ask and a limited amount of time in which to ask them.
  • Try to ask a question at the end of the interview. For example you could ask about the team you would be working with or how long the company envisages the recruitment cycle to be.

Additional Tips

  1. Market your skills and related experience in the field that you are applying for. Be sure to do it in a way that is positive and not cocky.
  2. Researching the company before your interview is a good way to know where you would fit into it. It lets the employer know that you really want to be a part of the company too.
  3. Bring your list of questions with you in a folder so that you don’t forget them.
  4. You want to describe your weaknesses as strengths. For example, you are not stubborn… you are tenacious.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s Don’ts
Arrive on time, or better yet 10 minutes early Be overly aggressive or egotistical
Refer to the interviewer by name Speak about remuneration and benefits
Smile and use a firm handshake not hard Act uninterested in the company or the job
Be alert and act interested throughout Act defensively when questioned about anything
Maintain eye contact at all times. Speak badly about past colleagues or employers
Make all comments in a positive manner Answer with only yes or no
Speak clearly, firmly, and with authority Excuse your bad points about work history
Accept any refreshment offered Excuse yourself halfway through the interview, even if you have to use the bathroom
Promote your strengths Ask for coffee or refreshments and chew gum

Preparation Questions

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your manager describe you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Remember to listen carefully to the time frame that is given as this will determine your goals. Be Realistic. They want to know that you have goals and that you plan to stay with them.
  • What motivates you? Don’t just say money. What are you saving up/using that money for – Remember that every answer you give in an interview reflects on you personally. So make sure it is a good reflection. This can be buying a house, studying further, special schooling for your child, your favourite charity – whatever!
  • Give an example of when you have coped well under pressure at work?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Please don’t claim to have no weaknesses. State an area that you are working on to develop your skill set)
  • What do you know about the Company? Prepare!
  • What do you know about the position you applied or are being interviewed for?
  • Use your previous experience where ever you can. You are so suited to the job so will have lots of appropriate experience. Remember this is your way of “marketing” yourself. Always give a brief description of the situation, your action and the result. NEVER use the answer “WE” it is what “YOU” did that is important.
  • If a friend/spouse goes with you, please ensure they remain in the car or outside and do not accompany you into the building.

Review these 5 questions commonly asked by interviewers and develop your dialogue before the interview starts. Make every interview count! You can’t go back and redo an interview.

Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

  1. Why do you want to work here?
    Researching the company is key. Get up to date with their latest media coverage. Find out things about them that you love and that resonate with you. Reply using the company’s attributes as you see them. Indicate your belief that this can provide you with a favourable working environment and that such an atmosphere would encourage your best work
  2. What are your salary expectations? Or what is your minimum requirement for compensation?
    We all want that high number, but don’t want to seem all about the money. It is usually premature to discuss this in the first interview. So if asked, avoid giving specifics about your salary requirements. If you give a figure you will be held to that figure later on leaving no room for negotiation and if your figure is outside of their budget you will scare them off immediately. So rather say that you are looking for a market related salary. Or if you are on a market related salary then you can say that you are looking for a market related increase. And if asked what that is you can say that you believe the market is dictating an 8% to 10% increase. However, if pressured for a minimum figure, here is a quick tip! Some jobs post the minimum annual salary for the position. Avoid using the lowest number because it would appear you question your own value /qualifications. Do your research and try to find what the average salary is for the company or for that kind of position. A Google search should do the trick. Be confident in your abilities and tell them that you have done your research and that you believe you deserve X. This is always option B. Option A is not to divulge a figure.
  3. Why should I hire you?
    This is an opportunity to sell yourself as best you can. Your answer should be short and to the point. The employer is looking for evidence that you can do the job.
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? OR Where do you want to be in the future with your career?
    The answer to this question can provide several thoughts for the employer to analyze. For example replying with, “Own my own company,” lets the person know that you don’t expect to remain at the company for a long period of time. Similarly, “I want to be an Equity Analyst” when you are interviewing for a Financial Manager, let’s the person know that their job isn’t where you really want to be and because you cannot become an Equity Analyst in their firm you are again sending a message that you don’t expect to remain at the company for a long period of time. Rather when asked this question be sure to include that you want to learn all aspects of your job in order to enrich your knowledge and be able to move up through the company – their company! Alternatively, highlight the skills you would like to acquire in this period and ask what opportunities exist within the company. Both answers depict dedication and reflect a goal-setter mentality.
  5. What sources are you reading to keep relevant with your field?
    Calling recent grads and experienced employees! What are you reading? If you lack a list of places you visit online or viable publications you subscribe to, you need to begin immediately. By remaining up-to-date in your field, you can be competitive in this struggling job market.

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