Job interviews

Many people feel that job interviews are like exams. But remember that the people interviewing you already believe that you’re qualified for the job based on your application and CV. That’s why they have invited you for an interview.

This doesn’t mean that you will get the job, of course. So if you want your interview to succeed, you need to start preparing in good time. Here are a few tips about how to prepare and what the interview will be like.

 

PREPARING FOR A JOB INTERVIEW

It’s a good idea to do plenty of research on the company and to practise your answers to the questions that may be asked. 


FIND OUT ABOUT THE COMPANY 

  • Naturally, you will have studied the company already – before writing your application. But it might be a good idea to do some extra research.
  • For instance, you could prepare a few questions that you could ask at the interview. You could ask about the working environment, the challenges, and the opportunities for development. You could also ask about what kind of results you will be expected to achieve, if you don’t think the interview has made this clear.
  • Don’t ask too many questions about the salary, pension, holidays and so on. Show them that it’s the job you’re interested in – not the salary. It’s a good idea to write your questions on a checklist and take this with you. But it might be nice if your questions could form a natural part of the interview. 


PRACTISE YOUR ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

  • It’s a really good idea to practise your answers to the questions that the interviewer might ask you. Pretend that you’re an actor going on stage to perform. Imagine the questions and practise your answers.
  • Think about your professional competences and how you want to present them to an employer who might not be familiar with your particular degree programme. Your narrative could also include your personal qualifications, making sure that you underline how independent you are and how good you are at working in teams and tackling stress.
  • Interviewers are particularly interested in learning about your personal characteristics in relation to the job in question. They often ask how good you are at teamwork, what kind of role you tend to play in a group, what you like working with, and anything else that might be relevant for the job.
  • Personality is often vital, so be prepared to talk about yourself, your private life and your interests. Try thinking about your weaknesses, but don’t get too personal and try to avoid cliches like: “I’m really bad at saying no”.


WHAT TO BRING WITH YOU 

  • In some situations, it may be a good idea to bring copies of exam certificates and letters of reference with you. The interviewers might not ask to see them, but at least you will have them with you just in case.
  • You can also bring other material with you that may be relevant for the job – for instance articles that you have written that have been published in a journal.
  • It’s also a good idea to dress carefully. Wear something that matches the company and job in question. Find out whether or not they have a specific dress code. If you’re in any doubt, it’s always better to be a bit too smart than not smart enough. But make sure you are dressed comfortably. 

AT THE INTERVIEW ITSELF

Remember that a job interview isn’t just a one-way street –<font size="2"> </font>it’s a discussion between you and the interviewers. They want to know more about you, of course – what you can offer, and what you expect. But you want to find out whether the job and the company live up to your expectations. So it’s always a good idea to be honest and sincere. 

The overall impression you give at the job interview is crucial for the final outcome. Here are a few useful tips about job interviews.


GET A GOOD START

  • Arrive on time (and preferably five minutes early).
  • Remember to turn off your mobile.
  • Remember the names of the people you’ll be speaking to.
  • Smile and give a firm handshake.
  • Make sure you look everyone in the eye.
  • Don’t sit with your arms crossed – try to appear calm and open.
  • Get a good sense of the situation in the first few minutes. Is it okay to crack a joke, or is the atmosphere more serious?


NERVOUSNESS WILL NOT RUIN YOUR CHANCES

  • If you’re a bit nervous, try to speak slowly rather than too fast.
  • If you’re very nervous, don’t give up in advance. Nervousness just shows that you’re interested in the job and that it’s important to you.
  • Try to calm your nerves as much as possible and say the things that need to be said. Good preparation will normally help. It will boost your confidence and help you answer the questions more freely.


THE INTERVIEW  

  • Interviews often start with the interviewer telling you a bit about the company. It’s a good idea to make a few comments or ask a couple of questions about this, but don’t interrupt or take control of the dialogue at this stage. The interviewer shouldn’t have to drag the words out of you – you should be able to speak on your own initiative. But don’t interrupt the interviewer.
  • Answer the questions at length and in some detail. Make sure you give examples from your own experience. Show it – don’t tell it!
  • You may be asked to consider fictitious cases and issues. You will also often be asked to say what you think about the company or a product. Constructive criticism is a good idea at this stage.
  • When the interviewer seems to be rounding things up, don’t try to stall for time. And don’t ask how many applicants they are interviewing.
  • On the other hand, it is a good idea to ask what happens next. Will they be giving you a call, and will there be a second interview. Bring your diary with you – in case they want to arrange a date for a second interview. If there are to be no second interviews, you can round off by giving them your references.


AFTER THE INTERVIEW 

  • There will often be two interviews. Sometimes the first interview is like a screening, with the focus being placed on professional competences in particular. The interviewers will also be assessing whether your personality will fit in.
  • The second interview will often be tougher, and you will have to explain your choices in more detail. At some companies, the same people will be present at both interviews, which means you can be much more specific at the second interview. Other companies will use a whole new team, perhaps with more experience than the first team. If this is the case, the two interviews may be very similar.