11 principles to be successful at an interview

Below is a lists 11 interview principles in order to be successful at your next job interview and to get the job. Some of them you know. Some of them you might have forgotten about. And others, you might not have considered yet.

First, Make the “Fit Test“: Be absolutely clear for yourself that the role and company you´d like to apply for really fits with your skills, career track, professional and personal objectives, beliefs and experiences. Conversely check, if you might match with the culture and needs of the company you´d like to join. If there´s no perceived fit already in this very first step, do not move on and do not waste your nor anyone else´s time by wanting to conduct an interview. Only if you know about, and believe in, and feel about such a “fit,“ you can and you will possess - and as such radiate - a 100% motivation level towards the new role and the new company. And that´s what it takes to succeed. Every good interviewer will realize very quickly how passionate you are about her company and how excited you are about the offered position.

Research the Target Company: To be well prepared is half the victory. Still, I´m surprised how many candidates would arrive at interviews, even for senior level positions, and not having studied our values, mission statement, leadership principles, products, etc. Why would they have not reviewed our Internet site, not read our latest press releases, why would they have no idea about what our competitors are doing, what our current and future challenges could look like? Don´t get me wrong: It´s not about being or becoming an expert about the company and role in question. It´s more about having acquired a sound knowledge before the interview to be able formulating your own, knowledge-based opinion which you´ll need to express at the interview(s).

Know Your interviewer(s): Today it´s easier than ever to collect information about your interviewers. Spend 40-50 minutes on Google, Linkedin, etc. and you should be clear about titles, roles, careers, etc. of all the people who´ll interview you. If not, ask the person who´s responsible of organizing the interviews and/or with whom you´re in contact to provide you some background information about the people you´ll meet. Addressing interviewers with their names and implicitly (or explicitly without exaggerating) showing them that you know (a little bit) about their careers, achievements, etc. is not only polite, but also shows respect and interest. You´d be surprised to hear how negatively it is perceived by many interviewers, if you do not know these things. And, on the contrary, how flattered many of them will be, if you are aware of some facts and successes of their professional lives. It´s like in real life!

Arrive On-Time and Professionaly Focused: It´s never a good start, if a candidate arrives late based on her or his own fault (e.g. having taken the wrong train, not having taken into consideration heavy traffic at a certain time of the day, not having found the right entrance of the building, etc.). In case of doubt and if you live further away from the venue of the interview, you should consider arriving the night before and staying at a hotel. Good employers will not only reimburse related expenses, but will also appreciate your thoughtfulness and professional attitude. It goes without saying that a fresh mind is a much more focused and a much more confident one. And conducting a successful interview is closely linked with posessing and displaying a healthy level of self-confidence.

Adjust Your Appearance, Style and Tone: Imagine you´re wearing a short-sleeved shirt, no tie and a casual pair of trousers when meeting for a job interview with one of the country´s top insurance companies? Or, imagine – for the fun of it - you took out your favourite Brioni business suit for an interview with the founder and CEO of the hottest Internet start-up around (who is one of those Harvard drop-outs and who is absolutely not interested in any status symbols). Beyond these more obvious things like appearance and clothing, you should also pay attention to the vocabulary you´re using. You should utilize words and expressions which are comon in the target company, its markets, and its industry. Also when applying e.g. for a position as a trademark lawyer, you might want to come across as serious and thoughtful. Whereas when going for a sales or marketing position, you need to be prepared showing characteristics of vitality, drive, and stamina (among others). Finally, be aware of the first impression you convey when meeting for the very first time the interviewer(s). It counts and it will be remembered – consciously and sub-consciously - for a long time. If you were someone who smiled a lot, if you had a firm hand-shake, a pleasant and clear voice and if you had looked for eye-contact during the moment of making the acquaintance with the interviewer. Important to remark that the process of “creating the first impression“ often already starts even before the interview; e.g. when you meet the receptionist, an assistant of the interviewer, or someone offering you a drink, etc. The “influence“ of such indirect stakeholders is the stronger, the smaller the company you´re applying with.

Know Yourself and The Value You Might be Adding: Before entering any interview loop you would need to make sure that you know your strengths and your areas for improvement. Be realistic and honest about them. Be able to list and to explain them by using concrete and short examples and explaing what you mean when e.g. you were to state that “you are restless and always want to storm ahead by seizing all identified opportunities.“ You should have a clear understanding about what is looked for at your target company and the job you´re applying for. You would need to be able explaining why you believe that you´re the one “ deserving“ the job by generating most value to the company. In the short- and in the long-run.

Anticipate Questions and Possible Areas of Concern: Good interviewers will try to imagine you being on the role they´re interviewing for. How do they do it? Pretty easy! They try to match your characteristics, your experiences, examples given by you, the way you talk and behave with their culture, their business and management principles, and with the requirements of the role they´re recruiting for. Example: If you apply for head of accounting with a company which prides itself of breeding managers who think big and long-term, you would need to come up with one or two examples when you prooved being not only numbers and detail-focused in your past career, but when you also acted as a visionary and a holistic thinker. Write down possible questions, formulate answers, and even rehearse at least some of them with a friend, confidant, etc. Saying that, stay flexible during the interview and do not try to reply with pre-thought and pre-formulated answers to all questions.

Stay Open-Minded, Positive, And Always Engaged: Regardless of how the interview goes – or what you think how it goes (as these two are often dissimilar), your composure should display interest, engagement, and friendly open-mindedness. Consider the interview as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Regardless of the outcome. Whilst paying attention and asking questions, of course, you are allowed to smile. By the way, please do not forget about your body language. Communication often is not only about what is said, but mostly about how something is expressed – verbally and non-verbally. In this respect, you should not think of the interview as a form of one-way-communication, i.e. only you explaining and answering questions. Don´t miss the opportunity to establish a dialogue on a level playing field with the interviewer. If you are curious about something, if you did not understand well a statement, if you´d like to receive more explanations on an important topic, then you need to ask your questions. It´s what every experienced interviewer would expect from you: You only get out of the interview, what you are willing to put into it.

Be Yourself And Do Not Pretend: You should not try being everyone´s darling or pretending being someone else just to get the job. Neither in life in general, nor in an interview in peculiar. Sure, as mentioned previously, you would need to adapt and to show that you understood what the company, the role, and the interview is all about. Saying that, never give up easily your core values and convictions. Be ready to enter a good and constructively-led discussion with different point of views. Important to reckognize, however, to remain tolerant, open-minded and to discuss in an empathic and fact-based manner. Leaving out emotions, politics, and any extreme thoughts and positions. One final comment: Even after having done a thorough analysis of the company and the role you´re interested in, it might turn out in the interview that some fundamental aspects are not in-line with your expectations or, and that also might happen, the position itself does not seem to fit any longer. Once – and after good reflection – this should become obvious to you then you should not go for the role nor accept it, if it were offered. Most likely it would be a painful experience and it would not work out.

Finish The Interview In Style: The last part of a good interview usually starts with the candidate asking some smart final questions. For example questions about the more overall strategy of the company, about what the interviewer considers as being crucial for being successful on the job (if not covered beforehand), or – if clarification is needed – about the role and its specifics. Either way, you should have written down a list of both more generic and more specific questions. Three to four are sufficient (If there were still more on your list towards the end of the interview, this might indicate that you were not actively enough asking questions in the interview until this point of time). It is crucial not asking your questions in a manner as being percieved as feeling obligated having to ask them. Instead they should be presented in an engaged way and you should be prepared to follow-upn on answers which might not be precise enough, or not having the depth you would have expected. You need to take care that all of your relevant questions will be answered during the interview. That´s your right and obligation towards yourself. If not, you might lack important information and you might join the wrong company. At the very end of the interview ask about next steps of the interview process. Personally, I also appreciate candidates who ask for a very first assessment at the end of the interview. Most important, however, and regardless of how the interview went, it is crucial to express your gratitude for the interview and to politely say goodbye.

Two More Things Many Candidates Forget About: Firstly, nothing wrong with, if you send to the interviewers – or at least to the principal interviewer – a short mail after the interview and thanking again for the interviews and mentioning that you would be looking forward to receiving their answer. This should be done, however, in a short and non-hyperbolized manner. Secondly, and this is very relevant in case you had not gotten the job, you should contact the company to ask for a personal and detailed feedback of your interview and about your performance. This is very helpful in order to improve for the next interview. In addition, you should reflect on the previous interview(s) and go through it step by step. Reviewing what went well and not so well. Focus on the improvement areas and write down specific action steps on how to better prepare and execute in the future.

Credit: http://www.jobs.ac.uk/