A good resume will get you a foot in the door. But once in, it’s the interview that will seal the deal for you. Which is why it’s important that you are fully prepared about how to present yourself when you go in to meet a prospective employer.
One important thing to remember is that the interviewer isn’t only looking at your professional qualifications, but also your soft skills. The fact that they have called you for an interview means they already believe you have the basic qualifications for the job. Now they want to ascertain whether you actually know the job, and whether they would like to work with you or not. You will now be marked on aspects like your personality, conduct, maturity, integrity and resourcefulness.
While interviewing is largely a subjective exercise, there are some commonalities that all recruiters tend to favour. Which is why it’s important that you:
Pay close attention to your appearance
The first thing interviewers notice is how you are dressed. Dressing for an interview usually depends on the industry you’re in. If you are in, say, the media or the entertainment industry, it is okay to turn up in smart casuals. For most other sectors, however, a formal dress code is necessary. Dressing shabbily or inappropriately will earn you massive negative points.
Interviewers want to see if you can be part of a team. Along with your professional skills, they will also evaluate you for your likeability, emotional quotient, agreeability and ability to remain calm under pressure. Above all, they will want to see whether you fit into the company culture.
…and the right attitude
We have all heard the pithy phrases that go around about the importance of having the right attitude at work and they are all true. That is why interviewers place a premium on attitude during an interview. They want to see that you have the temperament, drive and enthusiasm for the job, as well as a solid work ethic.
Highlight your resume with anecdotes
The interviewer will ask you questions about your career trajectory to evaluate how the job fits in with your overall career plan. In keeping with the trend of the behaviour interview, which is becoming increasingly common these days, they will also ask you questions regarding how you tackled different work situations in the past. They will expect sensible answers which show maturity, grace under pressure and an ability to think things through. Of course, if you have a fun (but appropriate!) anecdote to throw in and break the ice a little, by all means use it.
Watch your posture and body language
A good part of communication takes place through non-verbal means. So mind your body language. Interviewers will compare what you say to them with what your body language seems to convey. Take care to appear pleasant and enthusiastic at all times, smile and don’t forget to maintain eye contact. Maintain a good posture at all times since slouching may convey a casual and laidback attitude.
Show them integrity
Integrity is an important virtue and interviewers will no doubt want to gauge whether you have professional integrity or not. Integrity refers to the ability to be honest at all times, especially to yourself. Interviewers will assess you for your professional maturity, objectivity and your ability to be honest with yourself.
Display your knowledge and intelligence
Interviewers will want to know how much you know about the company and the role you will be expected to play. While they know that you have the basic qualifications for the job, they will now test your intelligence and professional competence. They will also expect you to know something about the company to assure them that you have thought through your decision of applying for the post. But remember, don’t get carried away showing off how smart you are. Which brings us to the next point.
Demonstrate an ability to listen
While the objective of an interview is to get the candidate to talk, it is also important to listen. Pay attention to the interviewer’s questions and answer candidly without evading any of the questions. While it is okay to keep your answer short or shift to a related topic while answering, don’t steer clear of the question since the interviewer will immediately catch on. Be polite and let the interviewer speak when he wants to.