Important Interview Tips
An interview is a potentially life-changing moment. If you fluff it, it can haunt you forever; if you ace it, whole new vistas may open up to you. So here are some tips to help you do the latter and avoid the former.
Interview Dress Code
If you’re lucky, dress code will be specified in the interview letter. Otherwise, you’ll usually have to take a guess. The kind of company you’re interviewing with should give you a clue, as should the kind of job you’re planning to do. If you’re a computer programmer, you generally won’t face the same burden of sartorial expectations as, say, a receptionist. It might be worth browsing round the company’s Internet site to see if it contains any photos of the staff at work there. Then you can see what they’re wearing and copy it. If you’re really worried about the issue, you won’t be breaking any taboo by phoning them up and asking what the interview dress code is.
The general rules are :-Casual should never be too casual. And it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Your Former Employer
Disparaging your former employer may strike you as a good idea at an interview. After all, it tells the interviewer that you really want to join their company, right? Wrong. In general, being negative about the companies you have worked for does not tend to create a good impression. It gives your prospective employer the sense that you are in flight from something bad rather than keen to positively embrace something good (namely them).
Research the Company
Research the company beforehand. They've done you the courtesy of looking over your personal CV; so you should at least take the time to study their corporate CV. You don’t need to head over to the British Library and order up a stack of giant tomes, but at least look over the company’s website. Read some of the material they have put up there; force yourself to sit through any video or audio presentations they have made available.
Within reason, there is no harm in stroking the corporate ego a little. Companies often think some obscure widget they invented is unique and somehow famous through the world or, at least, well-known within the industry. As long as you don’t take it too far, encouraging their delusions in this regard will often pay dividends.
Prepare for Difficult Questions
Prepare answers for difficult interview questions beforehand. “What are your major weaknesses?” is a common one. Try to think of weaknesses which could actually be construed as strengths for that particular job role. Examples might include “Sometimes I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist” or “Sometimes, I get so involved in my work that I stay late in the office and my family life suffers.”
Other typical gotchas include :
- “Describe an experience where you made a mistake and learned from it.”
- “What are your best qualities?” Here you need to be assertive about your own abilities without going too far and sounding like a braggart.
- “How do others see you?” This is a sly way of getting you to admit unpleasant truths about yourself, like : “They see me as an arrogant, unpleasant scumbag.” If you really are an arrogant, unpleasant scumbag, or something equally unappealing, prepare a fake, diversionary answer before you get to the interview.
Interview Tips – Conclusion
A wise man once observed that interviews don’t produce people who are good at doing the job; they produce people who are good at doing interviews. Just remember : it’s a game, and you need to master its (often contrived and absurd) rules.