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How to Prepare for Interviews
One of the most daunting aspects of the job search is the dreaded interview round. Interview fear is a natural result of wanting to seek approval and validation from others, especially from your prospective employers. While speaking about themselves may come naturally to some people, others are apprehensive about being asked questions regarding their careers or their previous achievements. Perhaps out of modesty and the discomfort arising from being asked personal questions, the interview has become one of the most intimidating parts of the hiring process.
This does not have to be the case.
Interviews are an important way for the applicant to show that their competencies, achievements, and potentials. You have already made it through the first step, with your resume making it through ATS scanners and your name being shortlisted for an interview. This opportunity to present and further elaborate on one’s profile, employment history, and key skills and expertise is the proverbial foot in the door: if you convince the interviewer that you have what it takes, it boosts your chances of getting through the next step of the final selection process.
Luckily, you can prepare for interviews if you have apprehensions about talking about your own achievements. Practice is key, and fortunately, interview questions can be rehearsed ahead of time. The key to flawless interviews is preparation, and here are some tips that you can follow to boost your chances at nailing that interview and impressing your future employers:
Get comfortable around tricky questions
Interviewers ask challenging questions, partly because they want to elicit information, but also, because they want to see you navigate your way out of potentially contentious issues and concerns. Take for example the question, “Why are you leaving your current role?”
The answer to the question may be because of management issues, or concerns with work-life balance, etc. No matter the answer, however, the manner in which you phrase your response will signal your ability to be an objective and fair observer. Answer honestly and explain your response with as much objectivity as possible. This means eliminating any emotional responses such as answers that are based purely on feelings or sentiments and are not substantiated by facts.
Other questions to prepare for are “What made you apply for this role?”, “Why should we hire you?”, or trick questions like, “Why should we not hire you?” The key is to not lose composure and organise your thoughts carefully.
Before speaking, outline your thoughts using the PREP method: POINT-REASON-EXPLANATION/EXAMPLE/-POINT. Lead with your point and follow with a brief reason or summary as to why you responded a certain way. Then, add examples or further elaborate. After you have explained thoroughly, go back to your previous point.
Similarly, if you are asked to describe your involvement in a project or task, you may use the STAR Method, which is also usually used in responding to selection criteria. In using STAR, you must state a Situation, followed by a Task, then a description of Actions taken, and lastly, the Result.
It’s all in the body language
Acting naturally in a stressful situation may be a tall order, but you can always practice professional communication. Sit in front of a mirror or ask a trusted friend to ask you questions and note your mannerisms. Are you shifting or fidgeting about nervously? Do you appear stiff, standoffish, defensive, or closed off in your body language? Do you use appropriate gestures? Do your facial expressions match the point you are trying to make? Do you convey openness, sincerity, and genuine interest?
Think about your strengths and weaknesses
Prior to the interview, make sure you go over the job description again. Assuming you read the job description and used the roles and responsibilities listed therein to modify and customise your resume and other selection documents, it is important to think about the job description to honestly package yourself for the interviewer. Be honest and upfront about your strengths and weaknesses. Being realistic about your strengths will allow the interviewer to note your selling points as a prospect. However, signalling your intent to work on your weaknesses will be just as notable.
Another important aspect of the interview is showing genuine interest in the role and in the company. The best person to ask is the interviewer. If you noticed something interesting in the job description, or if you have any questions that were left unanswered by their FAQ page or guide questions (which are usually found in the job packet or in their general hiring page About section), raise these at the end of the interview, when your interviewer invites you to ask questions. Some thought-provoking questions you may ask your employer are:
“How can I be the best person for the job, should I be given the opportunity to work with your team?”
“Does the company have any major projects on at the moment”
“What are the opportunities for advancement and further training?”
Know your salary expectations
Salary packages and other benefits are usually advertised alongside the position (or as part of a range, if applying through SEEK). However, interviewers may still ask you how much you are expecting. One important tip is to provide a range in which you would like your salary to fall instead of offering an exact or set number. Try to keep your range tight instead of giving a wide margin. For example, if you expect to make $75,000 a year, a good range would be anywhere in the $73,000 to $80,000 or anywhere within the $10,000 range. Be mindful of other perks and benefits as well and consider these when you think about your salary expectations.
Having these preparatory steps in your back pocket is essential to equip yourself with the readiness to face the toughest questions. Be confident, be self-assured, and be bold.
For assistance in recruitment-related documents and credentials and for interview preparation, you may get in touch with Darwin Resume. Our friendly and highly trained consultants will be able to help you through your preparatory stages. Contact us today for a complimentary quote on [email protected] or call us direct to speak to one of our consultants on 1300 174 435.