Interview Tips for Job Search Success
Understanding what interviewers look for can improve your chances of success in your job search. Before you go to your interview, it helps to know the kind of information your interviewer is after. They want to know:
- Do you have the skills and temperament to do the job?
- Are you going to be able to ‘hit the ground running’?
- Will you fit in with the corporate culture?
- Will you be an asset to the company?
- Do you have the motivation and drive to succeed?
The interview process also helps you determine whether or not you would like to work for that company and whether or not the job is in line with your career goals. With this in mind, it’s important not to approach the interview from a “how am I going to convince them to hire me” perspective, since there is no way to know if you actually want to work for them yet.
Be confident, but not arrogant
It’s a good idea to approach every interview as an engagement between equals. You might be able to solve all their problems, but being arrogant is not an attractive quality. At the same time, you don't want to put yourself in a weak position and appear as though you’re begging for the job. The company should stand to gain as much from you as you will from them.
One of the major reasons candidates fail at interviews is lack of basic preparation. Good interview preparation involves researching the company, its leadership, the role, and how these all fit within your career goals.
Research the company:
- How does the company make money (what are its products and services)?
- What industry is the company in?
- Who are the company’s main customers?
- How long has the company been in business?
- How many employees work there?
- How profitable is the business (revenue, earnings, etc.)?
- How large is the company’s market share share in the area?
- Who are the company’s main competitors?
- Who is the CEO/Chairperson and how long have they been there?
- What major events have taken place at the company over the past year (new product launches, acquisitions, personnel changes, etc.)?
Research the company leadership and their values.
Their business philosophies will tell you about their priorities and managerial approach, and help you determine whether you’re pursuing a company that’s a good match for you.
Research any setbacks the company has suffered.
This will tell you about their weaknesses and potential problems in the future. You will also learn ways you could contribute to success in the future.
Research their current priorities.
You can identify these from the company’s annual report. If they excite you, you’ll want to emphasize that in your interview. If they don’t¬, then do you really want to work there?
Use networking to your advantage.
Find out as much about the company as you can from people in your network. Try to locate someone who either works at the company or knows it well. How do they describe it? This can help you discover why the vacancy exists. Is it a new role? If not, what happened to the previous incumbent?
Ask yourself: “what do I want to get from this job?”
Before you go to your interview, have a clear picture of what you DO and DON’T want in your next job. This will help you compare job opportunities and decide which is right for you. It will also be useful in determining which questions you need to ask during your interview. Remember: the interview process is also about you discovering whether or not you want to work there.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Why am I looking to leave my current role? Are there factors in my current job I do not wish to retain?
- What type of environment do I prosper in?
- What work/life balance requirements do I have?
- What is my attitude toward risk and reward?
Information you might seek in the interview:
- Is this the sort of place I want to work?
- Who will be my superior? What are they like?
- What kind of people work there?
- What is the corporate climate like?
- What are the responsibilities of the position?
- What is promotion like in the company?
- Why is the job available?
Common interview questions
Questions you could be asked:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why do you want to leave your current employer?
- What is the most difficult thing that you have done in your current position?
- What attributes make someone a good employee?
- What are your most significant accomplishments?
As a manager, what do you look for when you recruit people?
- How would your team describe you?
- Describe your personality?
- What are your goals?
- What are your three main strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
The key to preparing for questions like these is knowing your resume inside and out, and being able to use it to support any statement you make.
Note: if you are applying for a job through a placement agency, they will have already provided you with salary, benefit, and holiday information, so you should avoid wasting your interviewer’s time with questions about these factors.