Hello! So, here we meet again.
We hope you have derived the expected value from our previous blog, our guide on how to prepare a KILLER resume and optimize your LinkedIn account. We are confident that you have been hearing from companies about a possible meeting (aka, an interview!).
If you have got your interview call, congratulations! It means that your resume has worked for you. Now that you enter the next crucial phase of getting selected for the job you wanted, let us prepare you for how to prepare for it! Read further to get a hold of how to prepare for a job interview.
In this blog, I will mainly concentrate on how you can PREPARE for the interview, which is, naturally, the next logical step in the selection process. I will cover these core points in this blog:
- Top 8 Reasons Why People Don’t Do Well in Interviews and How You Can Avoid It
- Stage 1: Pre-interview Preparation
- Stage 2: During the Interview
- Stage 3: What to do After the Interview
Top 8 reasons why people don’t do well in interviews and how you can avoid it
Whether you got the call for the interview or did not, one important learning that I believe you readers must gain as you go into the three stages I have stated above is this:
Why do people not do well at interviews? How to avoid this?
This requires some amount of dissection of the psychology behind why people fail at interviews. These are some of the top reasons for which people fail at interviews. There could be many more, but these 8 come to mind:
1. Not understanding your fit for that organization
Understand if your strengths are what the company is looking for. Or else, if your chances are slim, attend the interview only if you have free time on your hands.
How to overcome this:
Make it a point to only attend interviews that completely fit your candidature.
2. Not showing what you can do for the organization
Bear one thing in mind well: organizations look always for what they can get out of a candidate. It is never the other way round.
How to overcome:
Show how you can align your interests and abilities with what the organization wants.
3. Not being interested
Some people have a devil-may-care attitude towards work or interviews. They may possess all the qualities that are needed, but could have a very casual approach to their career or their interview. And yes, not asking the right questions about the company also signals your lack of interest, and quite rightly.
How to overcome:
First, decide if you want to take up this interview and the job, if it is offered to you later. When you are not serious about what you want, there is no point in wasting everybody’s time.
As for the second point, make sure you ask questions. Ask insightful questions and not superficial ones that act as fillers during the interview time.
4. Covering up
Yes, this is a serious issue at most interviews. Many candidates like to think that they are expected to know everything of everything. This is what prompts them to answer with a lie, hoping that they will not be seen through and that the interviewer will overlook it. Totally WRONG!!
How to overcome:
Admit if you don’t know an answer. No one is expected to know all the answers. It is perfectly fine and acceptable to answer with a ‘don’t know’, but show a willingness to learn that part that you don’t know.
5. Lack of communication
At interviews, it is possible that one may get stuck at important points. It is likely that you may not be able to convey your viewpoint convincingly. This could turn the interview against you.
How to overcome:
The key to answering a crucial question at an interview is to remain calm. It is important to keep your nerves cool. How does one do this? You could try these:
- a) Ask: Ask the interviewer a couple of minutes to answer, saying that you want time to think about this question.
b) Jot down: Write down your answer in points on a piece of paper. An answer like “I want this job for A, B, C.D reasons, and these are the ones” is going to make things clear.
c) Deep breathe: One of the truly time-tested anxiety-busting techniques is one that is found very much within our own selves. It is certain to work wonders.
6. Being too blunt
Answering questions to the point and perhaps explaining a thing or two with aplomb is fine, but being too brash, especially about your achievements and your expectations, can put the interviewer off.
How to overcome:
Just be normal. There is no need to go overboard with your answers, just as there is no need to be too obsequious.
Everything from the way you dress up to your body language carries your signature. It shows your attitude in ways that are too conspicuous to miss. A wrong gesture can throw the interviewer off you.
How to overcome:
It is important to understand the body grammar of the industry you are in. Avoid any mismatch. There is also the cultural element of body language and dressing up. One should be very sensitive to these things.
8. Not following up
Many organizations do expect you to follow up on the interview. Some think that if you didn’t, you were not interested in the job. Believe me, they take this as an opportunity to discard you.
How to overcome:
Simple, just keep following up without appearing to be pestering. At the end of the interview, make it a point to ask at what interval you should follow up with them, and don’t fail to call up on that exact day.
So, folks, let us now move on the next important section of this blog: the stages of the interview. I would like you to take a few minutes off to take up this wonderful presentation on how you can make the most out of an interview. The purpose of giving you this video is to supplement your understanding of the ensuing sections.
Stage 1: Pre-interview Preparation
We start this part of this blog with how to prepare for the pre-interview stage. Let’s get started!
Understand what you need to know about the company you are interviewing at: This has to be the primary, yet the most important step for the interview. It is the entrance to a career ahead. So, you should make sure you know a lot about the company before you get into the interview. Here is my checklist:
A. Company history:
Research everything that you can possibly find out about the company.
B. Company’s business:
This gives you an idea of the industry you have chosen.
C. Vision and mission:
A well-crafted statement of vision and mission reflects the company’s commitment and foresight and the knowledge of what it is doing.
D. Key management people
It is in the key management people’s hands that the company’s destiny lies. How far the company can get and where it is headed are directly linked to this.
E. Company policy on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
Compliance with CSR means a good reputation with its investors and stakeholders.
How to use technology to get ready for the interview
Given the kind of advances that technology is making, it is not surprising that technology has been taking centerstage at conducting interviews. This section on how to use technology to get ready for the interview primarily concerns learning how to use devices for remote interviewing.
- A. Check the reliability of your Internet connection
B. Make sure your surroundings are clean and organized
C. Mind your dress.
Know what to do the morning of the interview
Well, this is a very crucial thing to learn. I will present a list of things you should do to proper on the morning of the interview.
- A. Plan your journey to the office
B. Keep your documents ready and in perfect order
C. Stay hydrated
D. Eat moderately
E. Make sure you are complying with the dress code required for the interview
F. Ensure hygiene so that issues like body odor, bad breath, etc., are addressed.
- Know what to wear to an interview. Every company has a different culture. You could just call up the concerned person in HR about this policy and dress up accordingly.
Stage 2: During the Interview
Dear readers, now is the next hurdle to the interview, where you will be facing your interviewer face-to-face! But there is nothing to worry. This blog will have you covered up right. All that it takes is a little preparation, but more than that, a calm and composed thinking process, and more than anything else, presence of mind.
The good news is that these can be cultivated. Before I get into the next section, in which I will detail the way of tackling questions at the interview, let me guide you to a blog that has enough and appropriate information about this topic. I am sure you will derive a lot of value from reading it.
This said, have you wondered one thing? It is not just the job applicant who needs to understand how to face an interview. Even the interviewer should be sure about how to frame the interview, right? Why not look at this perspective, too?
So, here we go with Stage 2 of the interview process, or the stage at which you are tested for the kind of mettle you are made up of! I have broken this section into these points based on the understanding I have gained of the dynamics of the actual interview:
- Relationships are most important! Know why it is so important to bond with the interviewer and get the tips to do that. Like it or not, business is not about money alone. It is about relationships! There is an intangible, immeasurable, yet inescapable sensation that happens between the interviewer and the interviewee. Again, some good news: this can be created, and I will show you how to do it!
These are some of them:
- A. Start positively: Simple manners like knocking the door before entering help you start on a positive note. It is in your control, so go ahead and do it right without faking it.
B. Talk comfortably: Yes, the interview is all about business. But the interview doesn’t have to start on this aspect of the organization. It can be starting off with some small talk, things like asking the interviewer harmless details like her name.
C. Show interest: As the interview starts and gets going, one way of striking a good rapport with the interviewer is to show that you are interested in and appreciate her questions.
- Positive Body language: Showing the right, positive body language is a great chance to build a relationship with your interviewer and instill a positive thought about you. These are some of the examples of positive body language during an interview:
- A. Eye contact: Nearly 70% of hiring managers consider the lack of eye contact as a candidate’s number one mistake.
- B. Right body movements: These are some examples of the right body movements:
- A. Offering a firm handshake
B. Smiling or nodding at the right time
C. Avoiding breaking knuckles or clasping of fists
D. Not shifting your position on your chair frequently
E. Avoiding touching your face. It is a sign of being fidgety.
F. Showing interest in the question with counter questions to reinforce your understanding.
Addressing questions during the interview:
Moving on, I would like to explain how to actually go about answering questions at the interview, now that I have laid the groundwork for it by giving you an understanding of what precedes it:
Understand how to answer very tough questions with ease
Obviously, this is the number one question that should be running in your minds. To a large extent, knowing how to answer tough questions is the real determinant of whether you will make it or not.
So, how does one do that? This is my take on this question:
Agility and unflappability:
What happens when you flare up? It exposes you as someone who can get needled easily. No matter how irritated you may get at some question, understand the purpose of asking it. It is not to insult you. It is to test whether you can withstand provocation, whether you are resilient in the face of pressure or a disaster, and whether you are someone who has the courage to stand up to a situation.
Anything that is structured is easier to understand. The more precise your answer is, the easier it is for the interviewer to make sense of it.
One popular method of structuring an answer is the STAR method. It simply stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
How you can turn your weaknesses into strengths:
This is one of the areas interviewers love to tease you with. The way to go about answering this is to be open about your weakness and state it directly. Remember one important fact: never couch your strength and pass it off as a weakness.
Powerful words which you should use and the words you should never use:
Words, well…they have great strength! Here is my selected list of the words that could make a positive impact, which interviewers love to hear:
- A. Results
C. We, the team
Now, a small list of something equally important: the words interviewers HATE to hear!
- A. Comfortable
B. Blokes, chaps, guys
C. It was his fault
F. Hard worker
G. People person
I. Should, shouldn’t, can, can’t.
Things you should NEVER discuss during an interview
Knowing which phrases to avoid at an interview is fine, but what also matters equally is what topics you should never discuss at an interview. Asking an odd question at a crucial time can put the interviewer off and throw a spanner in the works.
These are some of the things you should never discuss during an interview:
- A. How much does this position pay? The organization will get the impression that the pay is all that matters to you and nothing else.
B. For what reason should I not get selected? You will appear too pushy by asking questions like this.
C. What are my perks? Calm down, sir! The perquisites that the company offers are there, and you will get them, whether you want or not. The interview is simply not the occasion to find out these or the other benefits such as ESOP.
D. I am not happy with my current organization because of this colleague of mine: Never point a finger at anyone, no matter how acrimonious your relationship with that colleague may have been.
E. I don’t like my present job: Then, stay at home and tend the kids or do some social service. Instead, show what excites you about this new position that you are not able to explore at your present job.
How to interview with people at different seniority levels in a company
This is a scenario you will have faced at some point of your career. If you already haven’t, you will, sometime. So, it is useful to get prepared for different levels of interviews. All companies do not follow the same hierarchy when it comes to interviewing a candidate. You need to understand to whom you are going to meet and prepare accordingly.
I have prepared a list of the three levels that one could face: The Team Lead, the HR, and the senior management such as CEO, COO, etc. Two of these are certainly going to be people you are going to meet at an interview-Team Lead and HR. You may or may not face the CEO, but for those whose position requires this, I will quickly get into some of the nitty-gritty.
The Team Lead
What does a Team Lead look for in a team member that she is interviewing to join the team?
- A. Skills you carry
B. Your ability to work as a team member
C. What motivates or excites you about work
D. How good a communicator you are
E. How flexible you are as a team player
Undoubtedly, HR is primarily concerned with the long–term value proposition of the candidate and what she can deliver during her stay in the company. Some of the top tricky questions from HR round could be these:
- A. Why do you want to work here?
B. What are your expectations?
C. Why are you leaving your present organization?
D. For how long can we expect you to work here?
This is the cream of your interview. This is where you get face-to-face with the people who hold the organization’s reins.
This round is all about passion, vision, integrity, ethics, value addition, accomplishments, dedication, sustained effort, team play, and the like. The CEO is very likely to be interested in your past record, because he wants to be sure about whom to trust. It should be about sharing your vision of the company with him and what you can do together. The nub is all about describing how you are going to be a fit into the organization.
Some of the top CEO questions include:
- A. Have you failed in the past, and how have you handled it?
B. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
C. What are your short and long-term plans?
How to handle an aggressive interviewer easily
This is one of the toughest parts of an interview. There could be occasions when you may have to face a hostile interviewer.
Take your questions very calmly and answer with poise and collectedness. They can only be aggressive for a while, not for the whole duration of the interview. Even if the interviewer has made up his mind to be truculent during the entire interview, simply don’t press the reaction or panic button.
There could be really rare occasions when an interviewer could be physical. This is clearly a real exception, because being so will reflect on the organization’s own reputation. They will be apprehensive that you could go out and report it in the social media or the press. So, don’t expect these kinds of people in normal times. Yet, if you do come across a situation such as this, just pack and leave.
Even in the worst circumstance, tell them while leaving that you would like to meet someone else from the company to be interviewed. This salvages the situation somewhat, as it gives them the impression that you are ready to still work it out with the company.
How to Negotiate a higher salary?
Well, negotiating for a higher pay is one of the foremost skills that a potential new employee needs to carry. We have no qualms about bargaining at a roadside shop, but hold back when it comes to making the most important negotiation of our lives! Of course, the two are not the same, but the principle is the same.
These are some of my tips for negotiating a higher salary:
One of the most important grounds on which you ask for a higher salary is your worth to the company. The premise on which you negotiate a higher pay is only the fact, not impression, that you are being offered less than the industry average.
It is only through thorough research that you can expect to find these facts out. You should also research what the company is doing and how it is placed in the market in relation to its competitors.
Quote a figure:
You had the courage to ask them for a higher salary, which is great. But when you have got them ready to talk, don’t ever make the mistake of being vague. This is the easiest way to transfer the ball from your court to theirs. Quote boldly. Say, “I am expecting $15,000 more” for instance. It is normal practice to expect a candidate to ask for anything between 10 and 30 percent more than what is offered.
Instead, if you say something as meek as “I am looking for a higher pay” and leave it at that, it gives them such a strong handle over the situation that you will be forced to accept whatever they offer, which is something they will do just to satisfy your condition on paper.
Justify your demand and be ready to bargain:
The first thing that HR or Finance will like to know is the reason for your heightened expectation. Unless there is a strong case for one, you are not likely to be considered very favorably. Show your experience, your strengths, the industry standard or any such strong criterion.
|Most important: NEVER mention your financial need as the reason for asking for a higher salary! If you have committed yourself to hefty monthly bills, or if you have an ailing relative, it is not the company’s problem.|
Just as you bargain anywhere, do so here, too. If a $10,000 increase is what you are looking for over what you have been offered, start with $15,000! There is nothing to be ashamed of in such situations.
Don’t let them pin you down with your salary history
You can expect them to shoot back with the response that they have offered you something that is consistent with your career pay history.
So, never reveal that openly. They will come to know about it for sure once you have to offer them your credentials; so, make sure that by then, the salary part of the deal would have been closed.
Play around with the offer:
Yes, this is one of the strongest ways of snaring your new employer to the salary negotiation. If you sign on the dotted line the moment you receive your offer, there is no room for negotiation at all. Instead, if you took some time (not too long, of course, which will make them think you are not interested) to reply and sign on the offer letter, they are sure to get back to you asking why they have not heard back from you.
This is the ideal time to tell that you are interested in the offer, but that some small details need to be worked out.
One final word on bargaining for a higher salary: Take all factors into consideration. Play out a thorough balance of factors before deciding to negotiate. It is likely that the company could convince you about sticking to the pay they have offered, but could be flexible with benefits, for instance. It is for you to take a call on whether it all evens out in the end and meets your expectation. This should be your deciding factors.
What questions to ask in the interview and when to ask?
We have spent quite some ink on facing questions at the interview. Let us turn out attention next to something as important as that: what questions YOU should ask the interviewer. This is often the best indicator of the kind of candidate they have on their hands. So, your questions have to be insightful, thoughtful, relevant and befitting your role.
Yes, your questions will depend on the rank of the person interviewing you. For instance, if it is the HR round, you don’t expect to ask something like the pay. If it is the top management that is interviewing you, you will make a fool of yourself if you asked something like the working hours in the organization!
There are no standard questions that you must ask, but keeping in mind the factors I mentioned, you could think of these as being appropriate, depending on whom you are asking these:
What is it that this company values the most?
This is a direct shot at the company’s ethics. If the organization values work, you should know what about work it likes to see in its employees-ethics, innovation, hard work, discipline, followership, or whatever else. This will give you a clear indication of what to do for the company and what it expects from you.
How do you measure an employee’s success?
This is another highly pertinent question that gives you, the candidate, a feel of what to contribute to your organization. It is a direct reflection of the organization’s values. Ask the kind of questions that will help you size up the organization you are going to be working for.
With which positions will I be working?
This is another indication of how serious you are about taking up your position and growing. It gives the interviewer the feeling that you want to work with higher ups and not with the juniors, which means you are very committed to growing in the organization.
How do I improve my skills?
This is the most straightforward and honest way of being ready for growing in the organization. The more the chances for improving your skills, the more interested you are in the job.
Well, now that you have clarity on how to actually face the interview, let us know what you think of these suggestions!
Stage 3: What to do After the Interview
Whoa! You finished your ordeal by fire! Well, I am exaggerating. This may not be the ideal way to describe an interview. But I am sure it had its share of ups and downs, its tough and its hilarious moments, and its dramatic and stern moments. So, what next? There are a few things you must do to immediately follow up after an interview.
I will be covering these aspects of a post interview set of actions in this blog:
- Know what to do IMMEDIATELY after the interview to increase your chances of getting hired
- When you should follow-up after the interview
- Know when to accept and decline a job offer
- What to do if you are rejected in an interview
Know what to do IMMEDIATELY after the interview to increase your chances of getting hired:
So, you have been through the various rounds of the interview. Congratulations for your perseverance and interest! Yet, this in itself does not ensure selection. Are there things that you must do to ensure that your interview was successful? I will list down a few items that you must be doing after the interview:
Send out a thank you email and handwritten note: This is a must! Make it a point to send out a personal thank you note to all the persons you made contact with through the interview process, right from the beginning till the end. More than anything else, it shows you as a person who has basic courtesy and etiquette. Do it within a day of completion of the last round.
Make it personal. Make sure it is not pasted or altered from some template found on the Net. See if you can add anything that was left out. The key here, of course, is to not overdo it. It should not appear that you are mollycoddling to make an impact.
When you should follow-up after the interview
Don’t make it more than a day after the interview. The point is, in that period, you are still fresh in their memory. It is important to thank them for the time they gave you.
There is another important thing you should do immediately after the interview. Get in touch with your references and drop a hint that they might hear from the company for which you were interviewed. This reminder is very important, because you may have asked for references a long while ago, and it is possible it might have slipped off their minds. Imagine the embarrassment of having your reference telling the company they have called up the wrong person!
Steps to take after one week if you have not heard back:
Send a polite reminder mail. All that you need to do is say that you are willing to do something they might want from you. Start of course, with the customary thanks again for the time they gave you for the interview.
What to bear in mind:
When sending out this important mail one week after the interview, make sure you keep a couple of important points in mind.
Don’t keep calling or mailing them over and over. This decreases your chances and makes them think that you are desperate for the job. They will also feel badgered. Avoid this at all costs. If they say they want some time to think, allow them to think.
Never use words they don’t like to hear. Words like “I didn’t hear from you” will put them off. They know they have not called you or mailed you. Are they obliged to do it at the time you think is the right one?
Know when to accept and decline a job offer
This is one of the most important things to know about your job interview. The rule is, your decision should be very well considered. Only accept a job offer if you are fully satisfied about the core areas. Like I discussed earlier, a few sticking points could be there, but if other factors can neutralize these, go for the job with the small adjustments. (I wouldn’t call it a compromise, though).
Never rush for a job that you are not likely to stick to simply because you are not doing something at that point of time. It doesn’t matter if you wait for some more time. What happens when you do this is that it will throw your career path asunder. You will have a very tough time explaining to future employers the reason you took the decision that was not suitable or favorable to you.
What to do if you are rejected in an interview
How to respond to rejection helps you grow from the experience. Take every such rejection as an experience to help you finesse your candidature.
A very important thing that you must remember is that you should simply NEVER foul mouth the company that has rejected you. They could have their own reasons for doing so. The attitude should be to keep in touch with the company, even if you have been rejected, at an appropriate time and place. This could present an opportunity at some future time, if the need arises.
Instead, if you lost your temper during the follow-up call, you have spoilt your own chances. What is more; it could turn you against other employers too. Most people in an industry may work for competing companies, but their networks could be common. So, word could easily spread about you!
People with a positive mind frame are those that succeed. One rejection is not the end of your efforts. Instead, look at it as a learning experience that will help you succeed the next time. It is all in the mind, finally!
You got your dream job! Congratulations! Now, what NEXT?
Getting a job is just the beginning of a journey. Don’t MISTAKE that you are done! Successful professionals NEVER do that. They understand that actual work will start from here.
Don’t worry! We have done all the hard work for you. Just read our Career Planning Guide to ensure you future proofing your career and have a clear short as well as long-term career plan.