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5 tips for acing your interview
Research, research, research
When you apply for a job, the available information about the organisation you’ll be working for is often limited. That’s why it’s essential to do your research ahead of the interview. Making sure you have a good understanding of what the organisation does will help to convey your interest to the interviewer and will also enable you to talk confidently about how you can contribute to the organisation’s aims.
Prepare for their questions
Every interview varies, but there are certain types of questions that are always likely to come up. It can therefore be worth preparing answers to these questions so that you can respond confidently.
A popular one is: ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ Tricky to answer, this question sets you up to present a negative response. Why not think about how you could turn a negative into a positive? If you’re too much of a perfectionist, this is because you have great attention to detail and care about doing each task well. If you struggle to make your voice heard, this is because you respect the opinion of others and like to learn from them.
It might seem like the interviewers are trying to trip you up with these kinds of questions, but they’re just trying to learn more about you as a person. If you’re prepared, they’re likely to see your confidence and appreciate the thought you’ve put into your answer. If you struggle, they may wonder if you’re serious about working for them or think you’ve got something to hide.
Prepare for your questions
You’ll usually be given the opportunity to ask questions of your own during an interview and if you don’t have anything prepared, it could be seen as a lack of interest in the position or organisation. Salary expectations, the duration of your contract and insurance are good starting points. If they’ve already been discussed as part of the interview, why not ask about the team you’ll hopefully be joining or the area where you’ll be working? If the job means relocating, you could also find out more about the best places to live and public transport options. They’re simple questions, but all of them help to show that you’re really thinking about your future at their company or organisation.
Body language is almost as important as words when it comes to an interview, as it affects how others see us. It’s natural to be nervous, of course, but successfully hiding those nerves could increase your chances of success. ‘Power posing’ – standing in a posture that conveys confidence – is a proven way of presenting a poised exterior, so why not give it a try? Appearing more confident outside can also lead to greater confidence inside, making this a great technique to use.
Even just supressing your natural reaction to nerves in some small way can help. If you tend to become quiet and serious, make sure you sit up straight, maintain eye contact and smile. If you tend to become loud and talkative, take a deep breath and focus on the key information that you really want to convey. The interviewer will expect a certain level of nerves, but how well you cope with them could be a deciding factor in your success.
Ask for feedback
Not every interview can be successful, but they can be a useful learning experience as long as you ask for feedback. It might not always be the most comfortable read – no one likes being critiqued! – but if it can help you refine your approach to interviews then it’s definitely worth your time. Those few sentences of feedback from an old interview could be the difference between landing a future job or returning to the start of the job-hunting journey.
Before the interview comes job hunting and the application process. If you’re looking for a little inspiration, which not check out 8 tips for online job hunting like a pro and the 5 ‘S’ rules for writing a killer cover letter?
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"Focus on…" articles are intended to provide users of the EURES portal with information on current topics and trends and to stimulate discussion and debate. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Commission.