PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW
Find out who you will be talking to — regardless of whether the interview will be conducted by a person from a recruitment agency or a person from a given company, you must know their name and position. If it will be an employee of the company, it is also worth knowing whether your interlocutor will be a person from the HR department or a person employed in the same division where you are applying for a job (e.g. the potential future superior). This way, you will know exactly how you should describe the scope of your duties, how precisely you should explain the technical intricacies and how detailed questions about your professional experience you can expect.
Learn about the potential employer’s company — try to obtain at least basic information about the company (size, type of activity, products or services offered, etc.). Thanks to this, you will win the respect of the potential employer and will be able to ask more accurate and specific questions about the company, work and job.
Carefully analyse your professional journey — recall the details of your individual workplaces, i.e. who you reported to, what the organisational structure of these companies was, what the scope of your duties was, the key tasks you managed or the budgets you had at your disposal. Think about what you learned in previous companies, what the most difficult part of that work was, etc. Share your successes, but also be prepared for questions about possible mistakes and failures. Remember that no one is infallible that and we learn from our own mistakes. It is important for you to be able to highlight the lessons learned from those mistakes and methods of remedying them. Always support your claims with specific examples, situations, figures. This improves your credibility and makes the conversation more specific.
Prepare a justification for why you wish to change your job — this also applies to previous job changes. The arguments should be clear and understandable. If you lost your job, for example as a result of company restructuring — say so openly. However, avoid saying bad things about previous employers, even if they are true. Moreover, prepare arguments that justify your willingness to work at the company where you are applying for a job.
Consider your strengths and weaknesses — questions about these areas appear very often, but also take different forms (e.g. what do you want to improve in terms of your professional skills). Consider your predispositions primarily in terms of the requirements of the job you are applying for. Highlight your strengths, say what your employer will gain by hiring you on this position. Present your weaknesses so that they sound like positive traits (e.g. “I am impatient and I always try to accomplish my goals quickly”).
Check where the company is located — it will allow you to allocate the appropriate amount of time for the commute. Save the company telephone number so that you can warn them about a possible delay. And remember — be punctual.
The first impression — a job interview is a situation when the first impression plays a crucial role. The employer starts evaluating the candidate from the very first interaction. Psychologists describe it as so-called “hot cognition”, which differs from regular cognition in that it is affected by emotions. It involves making up one’s mind, having advantageous or disadvantageous impressions about a given person mainly on the basis of non-verbal messages sent by them. It is assumed that the first few seconds (usually the first four seconds) may significantly influence the interpretation of the facts learned in the course of further conversation and formation of judgments about a newly met person. Therefore, when looking for a job, it is worth remembering that a job interview is the best chance for positive self-presentation. How you look, how you talk, your facial expressions, gestures and behaviour are a testament to your skills. It has been demonstrated that in developing a career, image is 9 times more important than skills.
Image — the perception of you as a person consists of what you look like, how you are dressed, how you greet others and how you establish the first contact, whether you maintain eye contact when addressing someone and what gestures you use during a conversation.
The attire — demonstrates your personal culture and, to a certain extent, your ability to make the right choice. It is about having a sense of and adjusting to the nature of the company and the job (for example, when applying for a job at the bank, a suit, jacket and formal, clean footwear will be appropriate). Clothing should be neat, rather official, in neutral colours, as well as orderly, clean, non-provocative. Do not forget about a proper, neat hairstyle. Women should wear subtle make-up and jewellery.
The greeting — it should be friendly, relaxed and professional. The handshake should be strong and decisive (but without “crushing” the other person’s hand). An effective signal expressing friendliness is a smile — the simplest way of communicating our readiness to establish a friendly interaction.
Eye contact — the strongest non-verbal signals are communicated using the eyes. Skilfully maintaining eye contact with the interlocutor helps to strengthen their kindly attitude. During a meeting, if the partners look at each other 30-60% of the time, this indicates mutual interest in the subject matter of the discussion; below 30% — the individuals are not interested in one another or the discussed problem, above 60% — they are primarily interested in each other. Our gaze should focus on the field with a diameter of approx. 15 cm around eyes. An excessively long and intensive gaze may cause aggression or irritation. Avoiding eye contact or having restless eyes, which may call into question the reliability of the information provided, will also create a negative impression.
Gestures — it is accepted that gestures made with an open hand help gain the trust of the interlocutor and emphasise the sincerity of intentions. Slightly leaning forward is an element of friendly attitude, as well as a way of showing one’s interest. A common gesture of kindness is also nodding. On the other hand, crossed arms or leaning back may indicate negative feelings. Resting one’s head in hand, covering the mouth or hands joined behind the head demonstrate being bored with the interlocutor. An interview with the employer is frequently a cause of tension and nervousness, which results in excessive gestures, nervously changing the cross of legs — in that case, working on the ability to control these not necessarily desirable gestures is recommended.
Establishing a good interaction — assertiveness, energy and boldness allow us to present ourselves to the future employer in a trustworthy manner. A person with a serene facial expression that demonstrates optimism, emotional balance and well-being will find it easier to win over the interlocutor. Pessimism may have a rather negative impact on the potential employer, who may lose their confidence in us. It is worth emphasising that any extreme is harmful; establishing contact may be hindered by excessively or unnaturally positive attitude towards the employer. Establishing a good interaction is also facilitated by creating an atmosphere of concise and specific conversation. It is a way of showing that we respect the other person’s time and are able to focus on the most important issues. Therefore, the message should maintain the appropriate ratio of information provided spontaneously by the candidate to the information requested. Failing to maintain this ratio creates a suspicion that the candidate may wish to deceive the potential employer or is not a very specific interlocutor. If, despite your best efforts, you fail to establish a good interaction with the representatives of the potential employer and the conversation proves superficial, the result will be impatience and loss of motivation to continue the meeting.