1. Be Prepared.

I cannot stress how important it is to be prepared for an interview. I think there is nothing worse than attending an interview unprepared! There are just no excuses here …

Today, we have so many resources at our disposal, to enable us to gather as much information as we can. So, use this to your full advantage. Managers will be able to tell whether you have prepared or not. What will this say of you as a potential employee? If you just can’t be bothered to do your homework, then you most probably can’t be bothered to do your work. Don’t be shocked or upset if you find out that you were declined for the role and that the next potential candidate got the job because he/she took some initiative.

2. Interviews are a 2-way street.

It’s important to remember that, not only is the potential employer interviewing you to see if you will be a match for their organisation, but you also need to interview them to see if this would be a company where you could see yourself working for the next 3 – 5 years. Before you entered into the market, you had already identified why you are looking to leave your current company and what you would like to see in a potential new employer, so work on the basis of this and formulate all your questions around this.  If company culture is important to you, for example, make sure you ask about the environment, the team and their working philosophies. Don’t assume that the person interviewing will always go into detail about this during the interview. Get the idea? So when you leave the first interview, you should know exactly what the position entails, what projects you will be involved in, what projects the company is looking to take on within the next couple of months, what the company’s working philosophies are, etc. You should have enough knowledge about the role and the company after the first interview so that you will be able to make an informed decision on whether you want to continue with the process or not. You don’t want to waste your time or the manager’s time on attending a 2nd or 3rd interview with them just to realise that you are not interested in the position.

3. Elaborate on your skills and experiences.

Remember that in most cases a potential employer will only get to spend roughly 1 – 3 hours with you during the interview process and, on this basis, he/she will need to make a decision on whether he/she would like to employ you or not. 1 – 3 hours really aren’t that much, so make sure that he/she really gets to know you and what you are all about. So if the interviewee asks you if you have experience with a certain skill that they are looking for, elaborate in 2 – 3 sentences on that skill and on which projects you have applied that skill and what your role on the project was. Don’t over-elaborate either, the interview will be at most 1 – 1.5 hours long. You don’t want to walk out of there and realise that you have wasted the full hour talking about just one area of your skillset.  The manager might also leave the interview realising that he doesn’t have a full grasp on what you can offer them as an employee.

4. Don’t ask them what’s in it for you!

Don’t ask them how many leave days they will be offering you or when they close for the December holidays. This is a huge turn-off!  They may also get the idea that you are not in the market and interested in them as a company, but more for what they can offer you in terms of benefits. You will have plenty of opportunity to discuss this with them as soon as you have established a rapport with them. They will engage you with an offer and all these details when they are ready to take you on as an employee.

5. Be a person, just be a real person!

At the end of the day, we need to remember that we are just people, so let’s all just keep it real! Be yourself, as opposed to what you think they would like to see in you. At the end of the day they need to know what they are getting themselves into in terms of your personality and vice versa. Don’t be a fake version of yourself, because once you start working, your true personality will unfold and they will see you for who you are. Now don’t get me wrong – I am not saying be your lazy, laid back, slouch on the couch “at home” version of yourself, but just be true to yourself and who you are as a person. Don’t be fooled, interviewees can spot a fake a mile away.

6. Be Honest.

Honestly is the best policy! It’s important to remember that no candidate will be a perfect match for the position and you won’t necessarily have the 100% skill set for the role, so there might be aspects of the role that you don’t have experience with and it’s ok to admit that you don’t have the experience or the knowledge – really it’s ok! Don’t put yourself in an awkward position where you are trying to thumb suck information just for the sake of it. Have an open and honest conversation on the skills that you have and the skills that you lack and whether you are prepared to upskill yourself. Again – honesty goes a long way and the interviewee will really appreciate this. This way you both know what you are getting yourselves into and what you are committing to.

7. Don’t be Intimidated.

Don’t be intimidated by the interviewee. Yes, interviews are stressful, but just remember to ask yourself – What is the worst that could happen? Yes, you might not get the job, but would it be the end of the world? But did you die? (image of Mr Chow’s meme pops into my mind). Just give it your best and at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. Also remember that the interviewee is just a person – a normal person. He probably won’t even recognise you if you bumped into him at the Super Spar over the weekend. You got this!

(c) Liezl Van Der Walt 2016