Tips for Interviews
Tip 1: An easy start is half the battle.
Within the first minutes our brain decides whether a stranger is personable. We certainly have control over this first impression: a natural appearance, eye contact, a firm handshake, and a bit of small talk are usually all that’s needed for a good start. Very important: remain natural! It’s okay to even talk about the weather at first. Use this opportunity to get a grip on your nervousness and to make a good first impression.
Tip 2: Being a little nervous is OK.
True fear is never good counsel. But stage fright is part of a good performance, as any stage professional will confirm. After all, adrenaline is the body’s stimulant, which increases alertness and responsiveness. Secondly, you’re not the first applicant who is nervous before their interview; personnel managers anticipate it and even assess slight nervousness as a sign you’re serious. Thirdly, you have no reason to be nervous, since you know what’s ahead and are well prepared. At any rate, avoid nervously playing with your pen, documentation, or your garments, as this is irritating and appears unprofessional.
Tip 3: Speech is gold.
Do not be elegantly reserved in an interview, and don’t think your counterpart already knows everything about you. Show what you have to offer. Enthusiastically speak of examples, concise facts and numbers, achievements, highlights and project details. The more detailed, the better. So don’t say: “I did dispatch…”, but instead, say “I worked in a small team, handling dispatch of 120 lorries and 140 drivers; I’m specialised in European transport, where I was able to use my three foreign languages dispatching for virtually all countries, including Benelux and the northern states, and of course Eastern Europe. I really enjoyed the work!” Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Tip 4: Downplaying is also a lie.
But: don’t bluff, the personnel manager will notice. Don’t refer to yourself as Managing Director if you worked at a company of two. Don’t refer to yourself a project lead if you didn’t lead staff. And: don’t adorn yourself with the achievements of others.
Exaggeration is a lie. But: downplaying is also a lie. Those who don’t speak of their abilities in an interview and hide their important achievements and skills for unjust reserve are lying just as much. He’s not only hurting himself but also the personnel manager, as the latter is then unable to recognise the presence of a competent, experienced worker. Don’t hide your light under a bushel!
Tip 5: Weaknesses can be strengths.
Personnel managers tend to ask for your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t claim not to have any weaknesses, but instead turn weaknesses into strengths. How: you’re an extremely finicky accountant, and even friends consider you a stickler. As field staff, you hate long office hours and can’t handle sitting around after just one day. Hence your alleged “weaknesses” can be useful strengths in your future positions.
Tip 6: Do you still have questions?
The interviewing party will certainly ask you this at the end. Of course you have questions: facts about the company and organisation you didn’t find on the website, comprehension questions about the vision, questions on the prospects of your department – be creative but not naive. A notepad with a few questions you prepared will leave a good impression. But keep cool and don’t stick to it.
Tip 7: There’s nothing wrong with money.
Nobody enjoys discussing money – but you won’t be able to avoid it in your interview. Being unable to provide a clear answer when asked about the salary shows the personnel manager you’re not quite sure whether you can even handle the job or if you even know your own skills and market value. Neither will score you points.
It’s best to clearly state what you would like your annual earnings to be; then provide the reason for your desired salary. Those who succinctly refer to an industry average or lists his expenses will hardly be able to receive their desired salary. The company wants to know what the employee can contribute, his qualifications, and his benefit to the company. In short: whether he’s worth the money. Sell yourself right, and you will leave the salary negotiations happy.
Tip 8: Don’t leave without an appointment.
If you like the job, feel free to say so. It’s not playing up to somebody, but you’re showing motivation and enthusiasm. And you shouldn’t be put off without a concrete understanding on further proceedings. Clarify who will notify whom – when, and how. If you’re going to call Monday at 3 pm, then don’t send an e-mail on Thursday. If the company will notify you by Thursday, then call on Friday if you haven’t heard anything.
Tip 9: A matter of courtesy.
Plan your journey to provide a time buffer. If you’re early, wait near the building. Half an hour before the appointment is just another form of unpunctuality. A punctual and relaxed arrival will contribute to your assurance and composure.
If you’re not familiar with the dress code of other employees at the company, the rule of thumb when in doubt: it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. It shows respect and correlates with the occasion. After all, this is about the next few years of your life. But refrain from fashion flamboyancy; dress according to your job and your future responsibility.
Be courteous to everybody from the start. The lady you encountered in the hallway could possibly be your future co-worker. Avoid criticising former employers. Even if justified, it can easily give the impression you incline toward nagging rather than good work results. Not interrupting or cutting off your colleagues and superiors in conversation factors into an important part of your social work environment as well.
Tip 10 – 100: Prepare, prepare… and prepare.
Diligence is genius, and every interview especially depends on how well prepared you are. Learn about your future employer. Look at the company website, research on the internet and search for relevant names or topics in newspapers. Phrase your own questions to show you have looked into the product and industry, and you are interested