How to prepare for an interview is a top priority for many prospective job seekers, especially as recruiting activity and business confidence return to pre-coronavirus levels globally following the slowdown caused by the pandemic.
The pressure to look professional, try to impress the interviewer and not appear nervous or overconfident are the main causes of stress among interviewees, according to recruitment experts.
“Today’s job market is extremely competitive and candidates have one chance to demonstrate their capabilities and interest in the role when they are invited for an interview,” says Deepa Sood, CEO of Plum Jobs, an executive search consultancy in Dubai.
About 40 percent of interviewers reject a candidate due to a lack of confidence during an interview, 65 percent veto those who fail to make eye contact, and 20 percent ignore candidates who sit with their arms crossed, according to research on the careers advice website WhatToBecome.
In addition, 71 percent of interviewers said they would pass up a candidate who is not dressed appropriately, 47 percent would not select a candidate with little knowledge of the company, and 76 percent would reject candidates who appear arrogant.
Here, recruitment experts offer their top tips on how to prepare for a job interview and questions to ask after the process.
Research and prepare
Read up on the company and prepare what you’re going to say and listen carefully, says Nevin Lewis, CEO of Black & Gray HR.
“Understand the company’s story and tell a story about who you want to be,” he adds.
It is critical that candidates visit the company’s website and social channels and educate themselves about the business mission, goals and core values.
“I always advise candidates to look beyond the company website – check the prospective employer’s social media profile and press articles,” says Zahra Clarke, Head of Mena Operations at Tiger Recruitment.
“Doing the right research gives you a well-rounded picture of the company and allows you to ask more insightful questions.”
The interview is a good chance to observe the work environment and the office to get a feel for the company culture, says Waleed Anwar, managing director of Dubai-based recruitment company Upfront HR. Try to arrive early to do this.
A dress for the occasion
Pay attention to appearance because everyone makes a first impression based on how you look, advises Mr. Lewis.
Dress the part, always attend the interview looking presentable and take care of your appearance, says Mr. Anwar.
Often, candidates forget that part and miss out on opportunities because of their clothing or appearance, he says.
“Whether it’s a video or an in-person interview, it’s important to choose the right outfit and pay attention to your personal appearance,” says Ms Clarke.
“Keep in mind that every organization will have different expectations of how their employees should perform. For example, a professional services company might expect a more conservative dress code than a tech startup. In general, we advise professional presentation to be stepped up one notch above the employer’s dress code, just to be on the safe side.”
It only takes people 27 seconds to make a first impression, according to a Dollar Shave Club survey of 2,000 Americans. About 69 percent of people say they form a first impression of someone before they’ve even had a chance to speak, the survey found.
The way you introduce yourself, shake the interviewer’s hand or communicate in the initial conversation all play a role in the success of your interview, says Ms Clarke.
“So, arrive on time, remember good posture, a friendly greeting and most importantly, a smile,” she says.
“The same applies if you’re interviewing via video call. Come in on time, make eye contact with the camera, and smile and nod to show you’re listening to the interviewer and engaging with what he’s saying.”
Body language, eye contact
A job applicant’s body language and eye contact are very important during an interview, according to Mr. Anwar.
“The way you sit can show confidence [sitting up straight]maintain good eye contact with the interviewer and others in the room, and limit hand movement to express yourself if necessary,” he suggests.
Seventy percent of recruiters read body language and 58 percent ask situational questions to determine a candidate’s ability to work in specific circumstances and situations using a specific skill set, according to statistics from the WhatToBecome survey.
Applicants should smile, be friendly and calm and maintain a positive outlook for the future, according to Mr Lewis.
“Be yourself. Be honest, authentic and the best version of yourself,” he says. “Highlight your personality, energy, character, skills, knowledge and confidence.”
Never lie during an interview, says Plum Jobs’ Ms. Sud. They will catch you at some point.
“When you’re interviewing for a job, show genuine enthusiasm for the role and the company you want to join,” she adds.
Effective body language can help you convey confidence and interest in the role, whether your interview is face-to-face or via video call, according to Ms Clarke.
“Pay attention to your posture: avoid slouching and sit up straight. Maintain eye contact at all times and avoid fidgeting. If you’re nervous, try keeping your hands in your lap and relaxing your shoulders,” she recommends.
“Do not cross your arms over your chest as this can be interpreted as quite hostile. We also recommend avoiding excessive hand gestures, which can distract from what you’re saying.
Dealing with questions
Make sure you listen to the questions carefully before answering so you don’t want the interviewer to repeat the questions, advises Mr Anwar.
“Answer the questions by relating them to your current role or the position you’re applying for and give relevant examples,” he says.
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Mr. Lewis advises candidates to keep each question brief. Talk to one person about one thing at a time, he says.
“Tell the interviewer how you envision yourself contributing value if you have the opportunity,” adds Mr. Lewis.
Always ask questions in an interview, Ms. Clarke insists. Failure to do so may put you at a disadvantage as it may suggest a lack of interest in the role and the business. However, with the right preparation, the questions are the perfect opportunity to show you’ve done your homework and stand out from other applicants, she says.
“Avoid answering questions with a simple yes or no. One-word answers can stall the conversation and give the interviewer limited information about you,’ says Ms Clarke.
“Instead, expand on your answers and make sure you demonstrate your skills and talents in your answers. Having ready-made examples to support your points will help.’
When talking about their work experience, it’s worth structuring your answers around the relevant skills you have for the role, according to Ms Sud.
“Give examples of how you’ve completed similar tasks and responsibilities, and demonstrate your soft skills and learning abilities,” she suggests.
When asked about salary expectations, be realistic and reasonable, Ms. Sud suggests.
“Avoid stating a high figure in the hope of negotiating—that’s off-putting to most companies,” she says.
About 91 percent of employers expect the interviewee to know the salary before the interview, according to data from the WhatToBecome survey.
Be polite and firm. Polite is meant to show your courtesy and respect, while assertive is meant to show your enthusiasm for the interview and more, Mr. Lewis recommends.
After the interview
It’s good practice to send a short and polite thank-you note or email to the company or recruiter within 24 hours of the interview, says Mr Anwar.
In that note, reinforce your interest in the job and perhaps mention a key aspect you’re looking forward to working on or someone you’re looking forward to working with, he adds.
“If you don’t hear back after the dialing time they initially stated, follow up professionally,” suggests Ms. Sud.
If you haven’t done so before the interview, you should always connect with interviewers on LinkedIn, according to Mr. Anwar.
The most important thing is to relax and not put all your eggs in one basket, he says.
Move on to the next app and wait for feedback. If you don’t get back to them within the agreed time frame, move on. This will give you peace and closure, he adds.
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Updated: September 22, 2022, 5:00 a.m