The job interview is a source of great tension for most people. And rightly so: after all it is the decisive moment in which it is established whether or not you will get the job you have applied for. You only have this opportunity to convince your potential employer in a relatively short time that you are the right person for the vacant position.
In general, staff recruiters decide in less than an hour if a candidate is suitable or not for the role to be filled. As a rule, especially for young professionals, the selection criteria remain a mystery. But although the parameters by which recruiters choose one candidate over another cannot be pinpointed, there are a few universal golden rules to follow if you want to make a good impression on your job interview.
Of course, some factors differ from company to company or are specific to a particular sector. In some industrial sectors, an eloquent attitude is more important, in others, however, a calm and objective presence.
Furthermore, factors such as the interviewer’s current mood can often influence the course of the conversation. There is not much you can do to change this kind of thing, but the point where there is a fair amount of work is definitely your interview performance . The trick is to react confidently to factors that are impossible to control. Find out how to do it best in our article.
- Preparation for the job interview
- During the interview
- Follow-up: after the interview it is before the interview
Preparation for the job interview
Good preparation is essential to make a good impression on the interview. With a few tricks you can catch several pigeons with one stone: first by doing a thorough research to make sure that the position really meets your expectations . Ideally you have already done this before you sent your application, but a further more detailed review before the interview does not harm. If, in the light of your analyzes, you are not interested in the position, you can refuse the invitation from the company and concentrate your time and energy on the most suitable and advantageous job offers for you.
On the other hand, if you accept the invitation to an interview, you will be much more confident if you prepare well. Basically, the same principle applies to important tests: good preparation also helps you not to lose your temper in times of stress.
On the other hand, preparing well for a job interview brings with it the advantage that is also associated with considerable learning: you make a culture on the respective sector, on the companies that work there and on the current job needs.
The following tips will help you prepare well so that you can go to the job interview confident. For many candidates, good preparation is already half the job .
Search for industry and company information
If you are in the middle of the application phase and you are sending resumes of curriculum, you will not dwell on all the details that have to do with the advertised position and the company. When submitting a large number of questions, there is not much time left to do hours of research on individual vacancies. At the latest when you receive positive feedback from a company, including an interview invitation, however, it would be time to find out more about the position being offered and the relevant company. Answer the following questions before the interview:
- What does the company do ? Why am I interested? Do you hold a prominent position in your sector?
- How does the sector in which the company operates work? Do I already have experience or points of reference with the company’s work areas?
- What are the typical tasks of the job position for which I apply? To what extent are they suitable for the professional profile? Which of my previous experiences and knowledge qualify me for the job?
On review portals of companies such as BeProved and Job Reference you can find interesting information as well as the assessments of former candidates or employees provided according to various criteria. Always pay attention to the date of the published comments: if the review was made years ago, in the meantime the situation in the company may have changed.
Determine the key qualifications and strengths
In product marketing, ” unique selling points ” (USP) means the unique characteristics of a specific product which are intended to convince customers to choose exactly that product. And what works in one sector can in some ways also be transferred to another. Sending an application is a self-marketing action in all respects : so think about what your essential key qualifications are that distinguish you positively from the other candidates, then find a way to present these strengths briefly and concisely , so you don’t have to think about it long during the interview.
For a successful job interview you could, for example, convince yourself in the field of soft skills with the following characteristics:
- “I work very well in a group.”
- “I quickly learn new skills.”
- “I have a long experience in the sector.”
- “I am an open and sociable person.”
In many areas, however, so-called ” hard skills ” are the decisive factors for personnel managers. But since these differ from one industry to another, we cannot give general examples in this regard. In any case, before an interview, make sure to consider what are the hard skills that qualify you for the job.
In addition, it is always useful to have one or two examples on the curriculum in hand that support your strengths. For example, you can demonstrate that you are able to learn quickly by indicating the short time you need to learn a foreign language. Or again: being a team player has a more credible effect on discussion partners if you can also refer to successful team projects. Basically, therefore, it is important that your observations do not seem simple statements, but that you can immediately refer to specific situations in which you have already demonstrated your quality.
When choosing and viewing your unique selling points, you should always make sure they match the professional profile you applied for. For example, it does not help much to emphasize your language skills if international communication has no role in the company.
Prepare a small note with your USPs to review before the interview. In this way, not only is it easier to find the appropriate formulations during the conversation, but you will also be more confident with your own strengths in mind.
Remember the reason for the interest in the job position
To answer the recurring question: ” Why are you interested in this job? ” Of a job interview it is good to know what to say. The answer should reveal more than just a financial interest and ideally signal your interest in the job and the company itself. The question about the candidate’s interest not only serves to understand the motivation, but also to verify the candidate’s expectations of the position in question. After all, the work must be suitable for you .
To ensure that you are truly interested in the position you have applied for and in order to avoid wasting time and making it lose even to those who will give you the job interview, you should first answer a series of questions. In this way you outline the reasons that lead you to want the job in question. ask yourself:
- What do I care about this job?
- What motivated me to apply for this position?
- What do I expect from the workplace?
- What do I expect from the employer?
- Why do I think I can bring added value to the company with my skills?
Final decision makers use similar questions to determine whether candidates really want the job and whether they are interested in the job or just earning. This applies in particular to candidates for whom it is foreseeable that they have learned about the job through knowledge. In most cases, merely demonstrating a weak interest in the vacant position is already a guarantee of exclusion from the shortlist.
At the same time, however, it is important to be honest and show interest only in a job that you really want to do , otherwise the risk is to establish an unhealthy professional relationship from the beginning. Don’t waste time and focus only on the companies that really interest you.
In most cases there are more candidates than vacancies. The recruiters and personnel managers must therefore consider procedures that discard unsuitable candidates as soon as possible, so as not to make the recruitment process long and exhausting. For this reason it is necessary to ask why the employer could reject a candidate and if your profile contains such points. But keep in mind that if they were really so obvious, you wouldn’t have been invited to the interview.
If there are single points that seem to jeopardize your eventual hiring, then you can increase your odds by identifying these “weaknesses” and having a proper defense system. In reality, the term “defense” is not always appropriate: ideally it is in fact advisable to avoid reacting too much on the defensive because it makes you appear too insecure.
Rather, show that you are aware of the weaknesses mentioned and say that you are working to improve yourself in the area in question. Depending on the respective weak point and the accumulation of your weaknesses, it can be a more or less convincing attitude. It is certainly a more effective strategy than admitting existing weaknesses without showing the intention of improvement. Here are two examples of how to answer questions about specific weaknesses well:
|You are missing a skill on the vacancy profile||Make sure you want to acquire this skill as soon as possible. Give an example of how it happened to you in the previous work. If possible, refer to similar qualifications or skills that you have that can decrease learning time. If knowledge of a particular program is required, it may be advantageous to already know a similar program.|
|You do not have the actual work experience required||Try to postpone similar experiences in other sectors: for example a student job, an internship or similar occupations but in other professional fields. Try to convey the idea that you are able to bring a breath of fresh air into the company thanks to your experiences accumulated in other areas of work, instead of interpreting the lack of sector experience as a weakness.|
The interviewer may have discovered many of your possible weaknesses by reading your resume or profile . But since he still invited you to an interview, it means that you sent a positive impression with your application. So avoid ruining it during the interview by dwelling too long on your weaknesses. Rather focus on the positive aspects of your path and try to convert the negative ones by putting them in a good light.
Many recruiters specifically ask to illustrate the weak points to understand how confident the candidate appears to be in his justification: if he can convince with a structured and well-motivated response, he will also demonstrate his ability to communicate. If, on the other hand, it appears too hesitant, the recruiters will think that the weakness is so pronounced that it puts the candidate himself in difficulty.
Prepare for common standard questions
Each job interview is different, yet there are questions and problems that play a central role in most interviews. In fact, you may come across similar questions in different job interviews. For this reason, it makes sense to deal with the categories and questions that occur frequently . However, it is a good idea to avoid memorizing standard replies to be recited the same for each interview. It is recommended to vary the answers according to the sector, the company and the interviewer.
In the following table you will find some questions that could be asked at a job interview:
|Category||Example of question|
|Technical qualification||Why are you the best candidate for this job? What skills do you bring with you? What procedures / software / programs do you already know? At what level do you master the skill x / the program y? (sector specific) What important skills did you acquire during your past study / traineeship / work experience?|
|Grounds||Why did you send your application to us? What do you expect from the position offered? What do you expect from our company? What do you know about our company? What are your professional goals? Why did your last job end? What did you not like? last job he did? Would you be willing to move to this job?|
|Personal qualifications||Are you well organized? How many responsibilities did you have in your last job? What skills and qualities do you think are particularly important for this job? What are your strengths? What are your biggest weaknesses? How do your friends describe you?|
|Personality / Character||Questions about provenance, education, training, career: Where do you see yourself in x years? What are your interests and hobbies? How important is the family to you? Who are your life patterns?|
|Sensitive questions / stress tests||Why did it take you so long to finish your studies? Why didn’t you do internships? Why have you done so many internships without ever being hired? What motivates you to terminate your current employment contract (already after x months)? Why have you applied when you don’t master x / don’t have the competence y / are beginners? Is this interview going well?|
|Game / brainteaser questions||NB: these questions do not always correspond to a correct answer, rather by asking them, the recruiter intends to find out if you can manage new and unexpected challenges in a flexible way. Nowadays, however, these kinds of questions are rarely asked. How much does the city of Rome weigh? You are able to solve the following riddle: “You are on a boat. Sail the anchor. The water level a) decreases, b) increases or c) remains the same? “? Why are the manholes round?|
Prepare some questions
The interviewers attach great importance to the fact that the interview is not exclusively one-way . In the best case, therefore, you too have prepared questions to know more about the company and to signal interest on your part. The technical questions also indicate a certain level of competence on your part.
If the interviewer wants to know if you have any questions, deny a bad signal as it indicates a lack of interest or imagination. In any case it is therefore advisable to prepare a questionnaire . Here are some sample questions you can ask during or at the end of the job interview:
- How is your ideal candidate made?
- What prompted you to invite me to the interview?
- What is the next stage in the application process?
- How would you describe the working atmosphere in your company?
- What are the training opportunities offered?
- Do you use program x / procedure y?
- Is knowledge of x an advantage?
It goes without saying that new questions may arise during the interview . You can also do this during the conversation, however we recommend that you do not interrupt the interviewer too often.
Depending on the person in front of you, you can also ask these questions in a more or less formal way if you have the feeling of being well. However, avoid being too brazen or putting the interviewer in an uncomfortable situation. Questions like “Do you like going to work here?” or “Are you paid well here?” they are universally to be considered taboo. If you are unable to demonstrate touch already during the interview, you will certainly not be given a second chance to prove otherwise by working.
Try the interview
Plan the preparation of your interview as a game . For example, ask one of your friends to impersonate the interviewer and simulate an interview with him. This way you can train yourself to react confidently and confidently as if you were really at the job interview by answering the questions without having to think too long about the answers to be given.
From similar exercises you can also understand if your preparation is sufficient or if you need to invest a little more time and energy. A simulated interview helps you especially if your counterpart is able to radiate a certain authority . In the best case, this person has already successfully conducted an interview and can draw on experience.
Ask your circle of acquaintances who would feel like taking on this role. It is even better if a third person is present who examines the conversation from a neutral point of view and shares his observations with you. Finally, even a role reversal can be useful to try to identify with the part of the interviewer and understand it better.
During the interview
With good preparation you will be more confident in job interviews. Additionally there are a few tips that can increase your chances of getting the vacancy.
Convince already in the first five minutes
Studies have shown that within the first five minutes of a conversation people decide whether or not they find their sympathetic counterpart . Of course this plays a significant role in a job interview. If you feel nice during the first five minutes, you can also relieve tension. So make sure you have a successful first contact and conversation start :
- Join the company with positive energy and motivation . A sincere smile works wonders, as well as a confident and confident step.
- Express your gratitude for the opportunity presented to you. Shake the hand of each interviewer firmly but not with excessive pressure!
- A small positive statement in the beginning cannot hurt: “You have a fantastic office”, “I am very happy to be here” and so on. But don’t overdo it, otherwise your claims may soon appear overblown and hypocritical.
Send the right non-verbal cues
In a conversation between people not only the formulation is important, but also the non-verbal communication. In a sense, the body always expresses itself and people can interpret certain physical signals both positively and negatively. It is important to know how to behave at a job interview: the following tips will help you make a positive impression also through body language.
- Keep eye contact ! It is very important to report your interest in the conversation and its participants. Avoid looking too often and too long at the table in front of you. Do not let your gaze wander around the interviewer, otherwise you will seem bored or lethargic.
If you struggle to look people in the eyes, there is a little trick: fix an imaginary point behind the interlocutor’s forehead. If you have multiple interviewers sitting in front of you, you should regularly involve each person with your eye contact. In any case it is always good to look at the person who is speaking to you.
- Sit up straight and composed , but not too rigid. On the contrary, if you relax in your chair, you will seem unmotivated or disrespectful. Your sitting position always conveys some idea of you. Both the lack of body tension and nervous restlessness (for example the constant overlapping of the legs) tend to have a negative effect on those in front of you. Opt for a fair compromise and try to convey security and calm at the same time.
- Arms and hands must always remain visible above the table. Absolutely avoid placing your head on your hand, otherwise you will soon express disinterest. Use your hands when speaking to support the content of what you say without, however, shaking them too frantically, because you would be nervous or intrusive. Here too you must pay attention to the right balance.
- It is also good to know how to present yourself at a job interview by planning in advance the outfit you wish to wear at the interview. Be sure to check in advance if you need to comply with a specific dress code . Generally, with exceptions, a formal look is appreciated, so it is recommended not to wear excessively flashy jewelry or other accessories.
- Avoid using too strong a perfume or deodorant or you risk that the memory of too intense a perfume ends up covering everything you said during the interview.
Stay on the same level as the other party
Many candidates automatically take on a sort of victim role in which they justify their candidacy. However, this is a wrong strategy, because it soon gives the impression of not being convinced of one’s skills. So remember that not only does your potential employer offer you a job, but you too offer your valuable workforce !
Always pretend to be what you are . Make it clear with the interviewer that this is a reciprocal application: you are trying to present yourself to the company as a suitable candidate, while for its part the company must try to be convincing as an employer. This way you don’t pass by desperate candidates who try in every way to beg for the job. On the other hand, a healthy working relationship can only be created if both sides benefit from each other. Keep this in mind before and during the interview.
The interview is a dialogue not an interrogation
The tendency of many candidates is to be too passive during the interview. They typically do this because they think it is polite to wait for what the interviewer does and say and respond accordingly. In the worst case, such candidates are only reacting and thus passing on passivity. Remember that communication must take place bilaterally : after all it is a job interview .
Your main topics and unique selling points should be part of the conversation. So try not to miss any possibility that presents itself to integrate them. Likewise, your list of prepared questions will help you set the pace of your dialogue part. In this way you can successfully conduct a part of the interview and demonstrate initiative and self-determination.
Answer personal questions confidently
Even the interviewers themselves can make mistakes, consciously or unconsciously. For example, some questions in job interviews are actually considered inappropriate , yet you happen to run into many job interviews. However, this does not mean that you are required to respond. We refer in particular to questions relating to provenance, marital status, sexual orientation and the desire to have children.
Women in particular should be careful in answering sudden questions about the desire to have children and pregnancy. Since these questions are to be considered completely inadmissible, in reality it is not even necessary to answer with the truth. If you want a job in a company that asks such inappropriate questions, you are entitled to give an answer that the interviewer probably wants to hear : “At the moment I am focusing completely on my career” or “Children are not a topic that I take into consideration in my current stage of life. ”
Finally, questions related to absenteeism due to illness are not only inappropriate, but in many cases also prohibited by law . So even in this case it is not necessary to answer honestly: you will not even have to fear legal consequences if you tell the fake.
End the interview on a positive note
In general, the last impression is the one that remains the most. After answering all the questions, the initial enthusiasm and adrenaline have subsided, so you start to want to finally turn to the end of the conversation. Express once again your gratitude for the opportunity received and highlight your desire to get the job . With this statement you indicate that you will most likely accept the job if it is offered to you. It is important to reiterate this because companies usually have a great interest in filling vacancies as quickly as possible. You therefore declare that you are looking forward to receiving news from the company.
Even at the end of the interview it is important to leave a good impression of yourself, as it could be decisive and make a difference compared to an equally qualified competitor .
Follow-up: after the interview it is before the interview
When you leave the company door you can already enjoy a small success. But your efforts shouldn’t end there. In particular, if you have more than one application still open or if you have one whose procedure is carried out in several stages, it is important that you correctly process the interview just carried out.
Evaluate the interview critically
If you draw the right conclusions from the interview, you can prepare yourself even better for the next one. Answer the following questions:
- Overall, how satisfied am I with the interview? Do I consider it a success or a failure?
- At what points of the conversation was I uncertain, while at which points did I manage to master with confidence?
- Did I get all the information I wanted?
- Did I highlight my main topics and my unique selling points?
- How do I evaluate the harmony between me and the interviewer?
- What image did I get of the job and the company? Do I really want to work there?
It is best to write down the most important results so that you can keep them in mind when preparing for the next job interview.
Resume the application process quickly after having an interview
Even if you believe that the interview has gone very well, you still have no job guarantee until you receive confirmation from the company. The employer can in fact choose another candidate on the basis of factors unknown to you and which cannot be changed.
If you are in the middle of the application phase, you can certainly take a day’s break from research. However, you should resume sending applications as soon as possible so as not to lose the rhythm on the one hand and on the other to take advantage of the momentum given by the interview you have just concluded for the next. If after a job interview you take it for granted that you get the job, you will have lost a lot of valuable time in the case and then received a negative answer.
Hope is the last to die
Application phases can undermine self-esteem, especially if only negative responses accumulate repeatedly. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are not qualified enough, especially in the case of highly coveted positions to which many other interested parties are applying.
If you have had an unconvincing interview but you absolutely want to have that job, there is nothing wrong with contacting the potential employer again. It may indeed be helpful to personally ask your interviewer for feedback and thus find out what you still need to work on. It is well known that asking questions costs nothing, and some interviewers are very willing to describe their impression of the application process.
In principle, always remember: those who don’t try have already lost . With this premise, don’t give up and try to continuously improve: perseverance not only helps in the job, but also in finding the right job.