The Perils of Interviewing Part 2: Interviewees
Many of us may be required to host interviews at some point in our careers, but all of us will have to take them to begin or excel these careers in the first place. This is why it’s imperative to be as prepared as possible. While there’s an endless abundance of blog posts, articles, and online guides claiming to possess the simple magic steps one should follow to give the perfect job interview, there really is no single formula for being the best interviewee. As daunting as job interviews can be, it’s mostly just about keeping your cool, being yourself, and not letting those pesky pre-interview pangs of panic prevent your interviewer from seeing what a promising candidate you are.
Continuing from the first part of The Perils of Interviewing, where we touched upon some worthwhile pointers for hosting a successful interview, here we will be discussing some helpful tips worth taking note of in order to give a strong interview as a job candidate.
- Do ensure you have all possible documents ready – and no, this doesn’t just mean your resume. Whilst many companies will already have your resume on hand for the interview, some may not only take note if you don’t bring a copy yourself but also expect further documentation. This can be references, portfolios, and anything else potentially relevant to the position. It can’t hurt to be over-prepared, and it could even work in your favor to physically bring more to the interview table than other candidates. But coming without something the interviewer may be wanting or expecting is a common mistake that can doom an interviewee’s chances from the very beginning.
- Do dress accordingly. Whilst a shirt, tie, and suit jacket are not always necessary depending on the role, it’s vital to make sure you make a strong first impression visually. This can range from wearing a suitable suit (there’s a pun in there somewhere) to a banking position, to dressing in more smart-casual attire for a nightclub role. But, whatever you do, get it right. Nearly 30% of interviewers reach a decision within the first 5 minutes of an interview, meaning how you look can play a large role in whether or not you’re hired. Remember, a fun and casual workplace won’t want a stiff-looking receptionist in a black and white suit, and a manager position likely won’t go to someone who turns up in trainers and an Iron Maiden t-shirt – unless your interviewer happens to love Iron Maiden, in which case they sound like the kind of person I’d like to grab a beer with.
- Do ensure you’re prepared to sell yourself as a good fit for the company, not just as a good worker in general. It’s very easy to go off on a tangent about why we think we’re so great during a job interview, but interviewers are looking for more than that. They want to know why you’re a good fit for this particular position above all else. For example, you may have been the employee of the month for five months running in a sales role, but that doesn’t mean you’re bound to be a strong manager. Make sure you keep your interview relevant to the role and show your potential future employers why they should pick you for this job above anyone else.
- Don’t start making demands or stating expectations before you have the job. Yes, there are certain things employers should be told before they make a decision, such as schedule limitations and certain needs you have that require a meeting. But going into an interview already prepared to start talking about salary expectations, schedule flexibility, and expected benefits can be a sure way to give the wrong impression of yourself. The chances are the interviewer will ask you about these matters regardless, but it’s better to let them bring up the slightly more sensitive topics in order to avoid coming across as demanding, pushy, or so over-confident you have the job in the bag that you’re already telling your interviewer how you expect them to accommodate you.
- Don’t be afraid of coming off as a little nervous. As opposed to presenting yourself as over-confident, a few signs of nerves aren’t bound to lose you the job the second they show. In reality, they are often humanizing, and can even work in your favor as they show that you’re keen and passionate enough about your career to display these signs of genuine emotion. As long as you aren’t visibly shaking and sweating through your shirt, your nerves won’t be seen as anything out of the ordinary. After all, we’re all human, and humans get nervous during nerve-wracking occasions. You should have seen me during the Breaking Bad finale. Jheeze.
- Don’t rely solely on online advice and articles. Crazy that I’d write this here of all places, right? But there are risks in using materials such as this as your primary source of advice. Blog posts and guides can be helpful, and of course, online research is highly valuable – just look at the amazing content in this article alone! – but trying too hard to be what others tell you to be for a job interview can result in you failing to convey your uniqueness, what makes you stand out, and why you should be chosen above anyone else instead of blending into the crowd. 67% of career advisors state that not differentiating yourself from other candidates well enough is a top reason for not getting hired. The most important thing to remember is this – be yourself. If that isn’t good enough for a certain employer… well, maybe they don’t deserve you working for them anyway. Pfft.