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Tips and tricks for a successful job interview

You have been invited for an interview? Congratulations! This is your big opportunity, in a much smaller circle of fellow candidates, to convince your potential employer.

Yet this is also where the challenge lies: How do you briefly describe your key competencies and present your personality to advantage so that you are offered a job? Or at least be invited for a second-round interview? So what can you do as a candidate and what do you need to look out for in a job interview?

Preparation is half the battle

As obvious as it sounds, even for job interviews, your preparation is already half the battle won in landing a job. Good preparation entails extensive research on your prospective employer once again. This means researching as much as possible about the organisation or company, as well as its products, competitors, locations, business figures, management, history and current status. You will win extra points if you can skilfully incorporate precise and detailed information about the company into the conversation. To test you, you may also be asked questions about the company or its products.

Before the interview, you should also think about the key arguments you will make when negotiating a salary, which should always be based on how you add value to the company, in other words, your qualifications and professional experience.

You should also practise your personal presentation in advance, pay attention to practical matters, make sure you have the appropriate attire and plan your route. Arriving late or in unsuitable or stained attire are among the worst things you can do when appearing for an interview. It is also advisable to treat yourself to a good night’s sleep beforehand to ensure that you turn up for the interview well rested and focused.

The most important part: personal presentation

Personal presentation is always an integral part of an interview. The demands placed on you as a candidate are therefore greatest at the very start of the interview. How do you score in your personal presentation? You must always summarise what exactly you bring to the company in relation to the requirements of the position. The goal must be to sell yourself for the position as well as you can so that the interviewers come to the following conclusion: “We must have this candidate in our company!”

To ensure an outstanding presentation and to establish clear communication, you should be guided by four quality criteria: Talk about yourself in a structured, simple, comprehensible and clear manner. The key technique for positive self-promotion is storytelling. It is useful to talk about success stories that provide clear evidence of your skills that are relevant to the company. We recommend using business terms and key words and including specific results and outcomes based on quantitative or qualitative facts. For you as a candidate, this will be a neat way of appealing to the entrepreneur in your interviewer.

Webinar series “Build your career”

In order to prepare you for a job interview, you will receive all necessary information on what a structured job interview consists of in our webinar “Job interview: how do I present myself in a convincing way?”. Further topics will be how you can succeed in a telephone and Skype interview and how to achieve the best result in your salary negotiation.

Watch the webinar recording!

Question upon question

In a job interview, you will always be asked questions for which you are not prepared. To be able to walk into an interview with confidence, it is essential for you to have reflected on specific aspects of your personality and professional experience. A storyboard can be a practical tool here. Create a table to compare the job profile, including all the technical, methodological, personal and social skills required, with your own profile. Think about a convincing story or experience to highlight each skill. Depending on the questions asked in the interview, you can then provide an appropriate example. This gives the interviewer a clear picture of the key qualities that you would bring to the job.

Often, questions are asked to test the confidence and composure of candidates when providing an answer. In most cases, the focus here should not be on providing the perfect answer in terms of content, but rather on a meaningful answer, and on remaining open, positive and composed when doing so. In recent years, several companies have been making practical exercises and tests part of the job interview. They assign tasks to the applicant, for instance involving presentations or case studies, in order to test his or her skills in practice. Candidates are put under pressure as they are given only a few minutes to complete the task. Here, too, you should remain calm, focus on your key strengths and, of course, highlight them as well.

Body language in an interview

Body language forms 70 percent of our communication, making it one of the most important tools that you can consciously use in the job interview. Sitting upright, making eye contact with the interviewer and smiling and laughing naturally are your most potent weapons here. Always keep your hands above your waist and on, not under, the table. Having both feet on the ground will make you feel secure and confident.

Ideally you should rehearse with a friend or career coach as a sparring partner before going for the interview. Constructive feedback from a partner can definitely help you increase your impact. Making a video of how you promote yourself and then analysing it is another wonderful way of enhancing your performance. Watching yourself is the quickest way of knowing which points you should address. This “training camp” helps you create an excellent foundation for a successful job interview.

And don’t forget: Most applicants normally require several interviews to warm up and get a better feeling for what is important in a job interview and what they need to pay attention to. So don’t take a rejection too personally, but instead see it as an opportunity to improve your performance still further.

Guest author: Heike Anne Dietzel, Career advisor and trainer with a degree-level qualification in cultural and business studies – Karrierecoach München

Contributions by external authors do not necessarily represent the editorial opinion.

More articles from guest author Heike Anne Dietzel

July 2018

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