What is a Job Interview?
A job interview is usually an oral conversation between a job applicant and the employer or a representative of the company (Human Resources officer or other company’s member). During the interview, the employer has the opportunity to access the applicant’s qualifications and choose the right applicant for the job opening. At the same time, the applicant can learn more about the job position and decide whether the position meets his/her requirements.
Types of Job Interviews
1. Face to face based on your CV (by one or more people): Face to face or individual interviews are the most common ways for employers to conduct an interview. Usually, the employer or the interviewer informs (through an email or call) the applicant about the day and time of the job interview.
2. Phone interview/Video interview (Skype, Zoom): Employers might also start with an unscheduled first call interview. In, addition some employers might ask for a scheduled video interview through an online application (Skype, Zoom or WhatsApp). This is useful for companies receiving a large amount of job applications or companies that are geographically far from urban centers.
3. Group interview: Employers may hold group interviews as they might be more efficient in terms of time and resources than one-on-one interviews. The first type of a group interview is the one that involves an applicant being interviewed by a group of interviewers while the second type involves one interviewer and a group of applicants.
4. Behavioral interview: During a behavioral interview applicants will be asked to determine how they have handled various job situations in the past.
5. Skills assessment interview: During skills basement interviews the applicant has to go through a procedure of tests or games that assess his/her skills that are essential for the position, and they are needed in order to perform successfully in your job (personality, psychometric, job knowledge, case management etc)
How can I prepare for an interview?
Preparation is important and it will help you feel less stressed and make a good impression.
Before the Interview:
After your application for a job advert, the HR assistant or manager might call you to schedule an interview. Always have a pen and paper by the phone. Write down all your appointments and interviews. By the end of the call, you should have the following information:
- “What time is the interview?”
- “What day?”
- “Where will the interview take place?”
- “Who will interview me?
If you haven’t understood or missed something from the information provided don’t be embarrassed to ask for clarifications.
Here are some tips for a good interview preparation:
- Do your research on the company and position that you are interviewing for.
- Be sure that you know the day & time as well as the place of the interview.
- Choose a professional outfit and take care of your hygiene. First impressions matter in professional settings.
- Make a list of your skills (hard and soft skills) and make sure that you will highlight them in your answers to the interviewer.
- Practice your answers to the most frequently asked questions.
- If the interview is on the phone find a quiet place with good signal.
- If the interview is online make sure you have a good internet connection, find a quiet place with a neutral background and take care of your outfit and looks.
During the Interview:
Prepare to answer the Most frequent Interview Questions:
Tell me about yourself
The best way to approach this question is to discuss those interests that are related to the job and why your educational and professional background make you a great candidate. There is no need to tell your entire life story, most employers wouldn’t consider this of interest to the position. One minute maximum is a fair amount of time in which to answer.
What is your previous experience?
You can start your answer by describing your responsibilities in your previous positions and connect them to the job for which you are sitting the interview. Link your responsibilities to those listed in the job description for the new position so that the employer will be able to see that you have the qualifications necessary for the job.
What are your strengths?
Make a list of your skills and strong points and divide them in 2 categories:
- The job-based skills: skills you gained through your experience in similar positions and show that you can perform well to the position (e.g., customer service, marketing, making clothes, cooking, cleaning computer skills, languages, degrees, training and on-the-job experience).
- Your personal skills: your unique qualities that derive from within you and that you have also developed in other job positions (e.g., communication, problem-solving and planning skills, public speaking, organization, creativity, flexibility, accountability, customer service skills, positive thinker, team player).
Your answer must be a combination of those 2 categories, depending on the position you are interviewed for.
What are your weaknesses?
Never talk about a real weakness unless it's something you've overcome or are in the process of solving. Whatever your answer, always end your sentence by stating how you are dealing with it.
Why should we hire you?
Remember, employers hire workers to solve a problem, whether it’s boosting sales, systemizing processes, or building a brand. Your goal when you are answering this question is to show that you’re the best person to solve that problem. Interviewers ask questions about why you should be hired to measure how you qualify for the job and fit in with the company. A good way to answer this is to make a list of the requirements for the position, including personality traits, skills, and qualifications. Then, make a list of the qualities you have that fit those requirements.
Why do you want this job?/Why do you want to work here?
In thinking about your answer, first focus upon and list the employer’s strengths (you will know what these are if you have done some background research on the company) and then think about what you can bring to the table that fulfils your professional goals and the company’s needs.
Why would you want to leave your current job? / Why did you leave your previous job?
Obviously, you want to be honest in an interview. You’re leaving/left your job for a reason. But you should really try your best not to come across as negative. Focus on what you have to look forward to, not what you’re leaving behind.
What are your salary expectations?
Employers may ask this question to get a sense of whether they can afford your help. They might also ask you this to see how much you value yourself and your work. In order to answer these questions in the best possible way, do the following:
- Consider the kinds of salaries that exist in the market in the country you are living in and in the field you want to work in. Every sector has different salary ranges and every country has different economic status. Make your google search before answering!
- Offer a salary range based on your research.
- Be open to negotiate your salary to demonstrate your flexibility. Avoid putting down one specific salary. This will make it seem like you're unwilling to negotiate to ‘’move’’.
- Consider your experience and the skills you bring to the table and your added value to the company. Having a significant experience in a field will give you the confidence to ask more than the basic salary.
What is your availability?
Availability means two things: When you can start working in this new position and your availability on the job. In the first case, you have to think about how much time you need to leave your previous job -in case you are already working- or how much time you need to prepare essential documents related to your recruitment. In the second case, the employer wants to know what days and hours you are available to work and how flexible you are around these. When you answer interview questions about your work availability, be honest about any commitments that are not flexible. Complete your answer by emphasizing that you are open and flexible about any other days and hours on which they might need you.
Do you have any questions?
The interviewer will probably ask this. Take this opportunity to ask questions related to your position e.g. what is a typical day or week in this position, do they offer trainings for their staff, are there possibilities of development in this department. One question that you should definitely ask is when you will be informed about the result of your interview. Avoid questions regarding benefits, days off and personal questions for the interviewer!
After the Interview:
It is very important to follow up after every interview. Always send a thank you email to your interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. It makes a good impression. Always thank the interviewers for their time before leaving the room and shake their hand (or greet them accordingly to preserve public safety during Covid-19). If one week has passed and you have not received a phone call or email about the interview, you can email the employer to check on the developments on the selection procedure.
Keep in mind that every job interview is a learning experience. Even if you don't get the job, you went through an interview procedure where you tested yourself on answering interview questions and that on its own is an asset. Furthermore, your interviewer may not be interested in hiring you today, but he may reconsider it in the future, depending on your skills and their needs! That’s the reason why you must give the best version of yourself every time! An interview is also a networking experience!