When your application leads to a job interview, get ready for it. Research your potential employer and read the job advertisement again: what skills and qualities are expected from you?
Think about your skills and how they match the employer’s expectations. What are your strengths and possible weaknesses? If you can come up with several development areas, don’t worry. Many employers highly value suitability for the position. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have the necessary degree or competence. However, any missing skills can be learned, as long as you have the right attitude and are the right addition to the team.
You should always practise for your job interview. This means that you should answer any typical questions asked – out loud. Don’t practise with your best friend, but with someone you know less well. Request your training partner to ask at least these questions:
- Tell us something about yourself.
- What are your career goals?
- What are your strengths?
- What about your weaknesses?
- Where have you succeeded and where have your failed?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should we choose you?
Answer so many times that your answers come naturally. Also pay attention to eye contact – don’t talk to your own hands. You can prepare for your practice interview by writing down your answers on paper beforehand. Nothing goes as expected: what may look good on paper may not sound natural or convincing when said out loud.
First steps: tell us something about yourself.
This “question” is clearly divided into three parts, in this order: work experience, education and personality. If you don’t have much work experience in this field, or any work experience at all, start by talking about your education.
When you say something about yourself, say something more personal than that you are social, goal-driven and take the initiative. For example, you’ve participated in the activities of the Boy Scouts for years (social skills), are training for a half marathon (goal-driven) and have established an arts and crafts club with your friends (taking initiative). You can add an extra touch by saying that you’re passionate about mushroom hunting, skilled with a chainsaw or that you can line dance even in your sleep.
However, don’t break the structure: keep your answer logical and organised. Of course, you can ask the interviewers if it’s OK to first talk about your work experience, then about your education and finally about your qualities as an employee. They will most certainly give you a nod – your very first positive signal. This will help you to move forward.
Why should we choose you?
Consider at least three good reasons. Two should be based on the organisation: this was already your dream organisation during your studies, they conduct valuable research, the management model is exemplary, you’ve heard nothing but good, you consider the job to be meaningful...
Other reasons are based on you and your goals: you’ve acquired additional skills, you possess valuable competence, your qualities are ideal for the position, you’re looking for particular work experience...
Also remember to say that if you don’t already possess a certain skill, you’re ready to do your best to learn it.
Weaknesses and failures
We all have our negative qualities. If you didn’t have any, it would be difficult to believe you’re being sincere. Be honest, although no one wants to hire a careless accountant or an asocial teacher. Talk about your weaknesses and consider whether they are significant for the job.
When you talk about your failures, also talk about how you fixed the situation, what you learned and how you changed your routines.
Questions to the employer
Find out about your potential employer before the interview and think about what to ask when it is most likely you will be given the opportunity to do so. Asking questions is more than recommended and says something about your level of interest. You can ask about the content of work, the team you’ll be working with or the company’s goals and values. If the salary or the difficulty of tasks have already been indicated in the job advertisement, as is often the case in the municipal sector, don’t ask about your future salary at this point.
Excitement is a natural part of job interviews
Getting ready will ease your excitement, but it’s still OK to be excited. It makes you sharpen your senses and indicates how important the situation is – these are qualities employers appreciate.
Be open, business-like and honest – be yourself. However, remember that you are selling your skills to a new employer, so bring them out in a positive way. Don’t undermine yourself; you’re one of the best – after all, you’ve made it to the job interview.
Finally: don’t be late
If the job interview is held in a place you don’t know, find out how to get there on the previous day. Don’t count on traffic flowing smoothly like on a sunny summer’s day. If you arrive late, it will cast a shadow of suspicion that you are unreliable in key situations. And you won’t get the most out of yourself if you need to run straight from the bus stop to the interview.