You’ve polished your CV, stayed active on LinkedIn, and kept your ear to the ground for exciting new job opportunities that fit your skills profile. All your hard work has paid off, and you’ve bagged a first interview at a prestigious company. The next step can be the most nerve-wracking of all: the interview itself.
Whether you’re usually relaxed and confident around people or turn cherry-red the moment the attention’s on you, acing a job interview is within your grasp. Not surprisingly, the key to success lies in making sure you carry out adequate job interview preparation. Follow these five tips for outperforming your peers:
1) Thoroughly research the company, including their culture.
Put ample time aside to research the company before arriving at your interview. We don’t just mean understanding the company’s products and services and the specifics of the job role. While that is of course important, you need to take it further than that. Make finding out about the company’s core values, ethos, and culture part of your job interview preparation. Try to pinpoint the company’s ‘why’ or raison d’etre and find a way to connect this with your own values and attitude. Remember, you’re not just being interviewed for your skills and experience, but also for cultural fit, so spend some time thinking about why you’d fit in at this particular company. It’s also important to understand the company’s customers base. What kind of experience or skills do you have in relation to their customers? Why do you think the company’s products or services appeal to this particular market? Displaying this kind of in-depth understanding at a first interview shows that you’ve done your research and that you’re a serious contender for the job.
2) Prepare for the “obvious” questions.
There are some common questions that you are very likely to be asked, and while they may seem cliché, it would be remiss not to include prepping for them in your job interview preparation. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “What are your ultimate career goals?” “What do you have to offer that no one else does?’” These are all examples of classic interview questions, and the key to acing an interview is coming up with answers that deviate from the norm. Always try to personalise your answers to these generic questions by reflecting your unique skills, characteristics, and experience.
3) Prepare some thought-provoking questions of your own.
All too often, interview candidates respond to the inevitable ‘do you have any questions for us?’ with a shake of the head and a shy smile. This is a big mistake. The opportunity to ask your interviewer a couple of questions is an invaluable opportunity to make an impression and ensure that your interview stands out. When doing job interview preparation, come up with a few questions that are likely to prompt a back-and-forth between you and your interviewer. The key is to stimulate a discussion that your interviewer will find refreshing and interesting. Examples could include the following: “What are the biggest challenges the company is facing at the moment?”, “Which personal attributes do you feel are most important in this role?”, “What can you tell me about the rest of the team?.”
4) Think about your body language.
While much depends on how you answer questions in an interview, keep in mind that you’re also communicating through your body language. Check in with your posture throughout the interview and make an effort to appear relaxed, confident, and open. Don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms, and don’t hunch. Look your interviewer in the eye and smile from time to time. Remember to use your interviewer’s name, too; people subconsciously respond better to people who address them by name.
5) Do as many practice runs as you can.
One of the best forms of job interview preparation is practice. This doesn’t have to mean attending multiple actual job interviews; you can practice simply by simulating interview situations. In fact, many MBA programs, including the ESSEC Global MBA, offer mock interview sessions for this very reason. In these mock interviews, your mentor or career coach will test your readiness by asking unexpected and unusual questions, and then give you detailed feedback on how you performed. This kind of practice helps you hone your interview skills and become comfortable in a range of different interview situations.
Qualifications count in interviews. Having the ESSEC Global MBA behind your name will help you boost your career. Download the program brochure for more information. Alternatively, download our free guide, How to find the perfect MBA, for expert advice on choosing the best MBA for your professional needs.