How to hone your job interview skills

This is the second in a two-part series on finding your first job post-graduation

If you have received the lucky phone call, requesting your attendance at an interview, do not get nervous. Nerves can often make or break an interview, and they are completely unnecessary!

Remember that no manager would have asked you to come in if they were not already impressed with you – they do not want to waste the time (and money) on interviewing someone who they do not think would be a good fit for their organization.

Unfortunately, however, there is often more than one qualified person for the job, and interviews are a necessary way for management to be able to identify the best personality for the firm.

This is an important point to remember, as it reminds you to be yourself. This is not just a cliché, but is mandatory, because, if you put on a façade in your interview and then you get hired because of this supposed personality, it will be inevitably catch up to you. Maintaining a false personality while at work five days a week is almost impossible.

This is a similar no-no to lying about your past experience and skills on your resume, because while it may get you an interview or a job, it does not guarantee that you will succeed in the interview or keep your job.

Practice can make perfect with interviews. There are some questions that you will come across again and again in interviews and for a good reason – they reveal a lot to employers.

Questions requesting you to state your strengths and weaknesses provide the employer with lots of important information about your actual strengths and weaknesses, of course, but also about how honest and straightforward you are. Answering that your main weakness is your ‘perfectionism’ may well be true but is an answer not too many employers wish to hear, as most people will believe you are being insincere.

Think carefully about some actual weaknesses you could mention in your interview, but be sure to let the employer know what you are doing to improve yourself to show how proactive you can be.

Write some typical interview questions down on some index cards and some bullet points on how to best answer those questions on the back. Give them to a friend and ask them to choose a couple to ask you in random order. Make sure that your answer does not seem scripted or rehearsed. It should be genuine, but prepared.

This is why bullet points are much better than writing out a word-for-word answer on the reverse of your index card. They will remind you of the key points to mention in your response without making you sound like a parrot.

To summarise: practice, practice, practice, and be yourself. Good luck!

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