12 Tips for a Successful Job Interview

Being invited to an interview is already a big win. It means that your profile is interesting enough for the company to invest time in getting to know you better, in assessing how you fit the job and the company, and in making sure that what you wrote in your CV is true.

The interview provides a chance for the company to learn more about you, and it's your chance to learn more about the company, the job, the people on the team, and your potential future supervisor.

There are different types of interviews, which vary according to communication media, the people involved, and the content covered. There may also be several rounds of interviews, but no matter what comes your way, each step can get you closer to your dream job. That's why it's important to take interviews seriously and prepare for them well.

In this article, we’ll share tips on how to increase your chances of getting a job with a good interview.

Knowledge and interest: Before you arrive for an interview, make sure you've researched the company and industry thoroughly. This shows that you're interested in the position and that being well-informed is important to you. It also allows you to prepare good questions for your part of the interview. 

Company fit: Preparing key points about why you're the right candidate for the job shows you've done your homework. You should also prepare to show why you're the best fit for the company based on your skills as well as your attitude. 

Think about the following questions: What makes the job interesting to you? What aspects motivate you the most, and which of your skills would really benefit the company if you are hired? A crucial aspect is the match between your personality and attitude and the company's values. Do you fit in the company culture? And does the company fit you? 

Is there a 100% match? Well, sometimes there is, but most of the time there isn't. Therefore, it's important to think about the missing aspects and prepare suitable answers. This helps the interviewer make the right choice and increases your chances of making it to the final selection. If you put yourself in the position of the company/recruiter, is there an aspect that speaks against hiring you? If so, bring it up during the interview and have at least one argument that counterbalances the possible reservation.

Behavioral interview questions: In an effort to make hiring decisions as objectively and accurately as possible, many companies use behavioral interview questions. These questions are a great way to determine the skills and competencies of applicants in a structured and objective manner. They usually refer to specific events in your (professional) life and aim to show certain skills or competencies. 

These questions may sound something like, "Please describe a time (or situation) when you (for example, had to deal with an angry customer)." In this case, the interviewer is looking for a real example—don't make it up, they'll figure it out. Be specific, and give details, names, and dates as appropriate. The interviewer may also want to know what you learned from this experience and whether you've applied what you learned in other situations. If you don't have examples from your work life, you can choose them from your college years, volunteer work, sports involvement, etc.

Rehearse your answers, or don't: Rehearsing answers isn't necessarily the way to go. Being prepared? Absolutely. There are lists of typical interview questions you can study and prepare for; however, rehearsing answers carries at least two risks. On the one hand, you could end up sounding fake, not yourself, which would diminish a possible positive impression. On the other hand, they might ask entirely different questions, meaning that of the 10-15 answers you’ve rehearsed, you might end up using only 2 or 3.

So the most important thing is that you're well prepared, but not that you've memorized the answer line by line.

Inappropriate or illegal questions: Even though interviewers are not allowed to ask inappropriate or illegal questions, they can still get carried away. The best way to handle such questions is to say, "I'm not sure how this is relevant to my application."  In any case, it's important not to go down that slippery slope. Questions about religion, race, national origin, age, disability, marital status, and sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy) are not acceptable.

It's a conversation, not a competition: Job interviews can sometimes feel like tough negotiations, but they don’t have to. Try to make the interview a conversation and attempt to turn the competition into a relationship. It's important that you learn more about the company and that the recruiter learns more about you to find out if you're a good fit for each other. After all, it's never a good thing to be hired for a job that isn't a good fit for the person or the company. Remember it’s a two-way street, that is, it is about them as much as it is about you.

Be an interviewer too: You want to know more details about the industry, the company, and the job itself. So, make sure you have a list of the most important questions you want to ask the interviewer. This shows that you're well prepared, genuinely interested in making an informed decision, and that you're curious and engaged. 

To develop good questions, you need to learn about the company and the industry. As for the job itself, you can refer to the job posting and ask for clarification or details. Of course, some questions you want to ask may come up during the interview. In that case, take notes and refer to them when it’s your turn to ask questions. If the interview is more conversational, ask the question when the topic comes up.

Stay on the positive side: Some interviewers like to ask questions such as, "What do you like least about your current job/company?" It’s best not to answer these questions in a negative way. . Keep thoughts on the positive side by saying something like, "What I really like about my current job/company is…”, or “what I'm looking forward to about the new job/company is..." Highlight the things that make you happy, that interest you, and that motivate you. Complaining about your previous or current job or employer doesn't leave a positive impression.

Make a good impression: This tip may seem obvious, but experience shows it's worth repeating. Making a good impression is not limited to skills and competences, it is also about presenting yourself in a positive way. You should dress appropriately for the job, the company, and the industry, and in a way that fits your own style. This can range from business formal to start-up casual. Many factors can influence the opinion the interviewers will develop about a candidate, and presenting a clean and neat appearance makes a difference. 

Also, when you arrive at the interview, remember to bring your CV, a printout of the job description, your printed or handwritten list of questions, a notepad and pen (both in a simple, understated look), the name(s) of the interviewer(s), and directions to the company or interview location. These preparations help present a professional attitude and appearance.

Professional closing: The closing part of the interview is also a key element that you should prepare well for. In some cases, you might want to give the position more consideration; other times, you may be sure you want the job. Either way, you can end the interview in a positive and professional manner. 

If you need time to think about all the things you learned during the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer(s) for the time invested and signal that while you’re interested in the job overall, you want to take a short time to process all the information and make an informed decision. If you definitely want the job, you should ask for it in a friendly and confident way. Express that your interest in the job has been confirmed/increased by the interview and briefly explain again how you fit the job and the company.

Remote interviews: Everything above still applies, even your attire and proper appearance, because you'll want to have your webcam on. And, speaking of that, you may want to think about what’s visible in your background. You should also make sure your computer has a good webcam, as well as good speakers and a microphone. Even better, get a good external headset for optimal sound, but avoid extra-large gaming headsets unless you're applying to a gaming company. 

Acknowledgements and self-reflection: These two things are often forgotten, but they will help you stand out and improve for the future. Send a thank you note to each interviewer if you have their contact information—at least to the person who invited you or conducted the interview. This can be a handwritten note or an email, depending on what you feel is appropriate in the situation. It must be tailored to the position, not a copy of other interviews and not too general. Briefly reference the key points you took away and send the note within 48 hours of the interview.

Honest self-reflection about how the interview went will help you refine your style and approach for future interviews. Consider what you did well, what you could improve, and what you might do differently next time.

And most importantly, as the saying goes, be yourself, everybody else is already taken.

Ready to find a job? Check out the latest job listings at Open Source JobHub.

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