How to prepare for a job interview: 5 empirical recommendations

5 July 2016

In the first portion of the empiric series I focused on how to secure the job interview. In this article, I will discuss the most common mistakes candidates do within the job interview process and I will provide recommendations on how to avoid them.

PersonalHR Interview quesitons1. The remuneration

A question you can be absolutely sure you will get, and you will get it at the beginning of the recruitment process: usually on the phone interview. You have financial needs and expectations and that’s completely normal. It’s also very important, though, to look at the other side of salary coin. Do the necessary research on the average wages in the sector and for the position, check google and discuss the matter with acquaintances who work in a similar environment. Read the job ad carefully once again and answer the following:

  • What’s the company?
  • What’s the sector?
  • What’s the level of responsibility?
  • Are you going to be people manager?
  • Is this position comparable to another job you used to have? If so, how? For example, it’s definitely irrelevant how much you made in the US when you are applying for a position in Bulgaria, especially if the job profile is quite different from the current target position.
  • Can you offer experience and skills that are worth more than the average remuneration for the sector?
  • Would you build up on relevant skills or would be learning them – coming from a different industry?

After you have the needed data, think carefully and make an informed decision – is your expected amount close to the figure you’ve calculated as an average for the position? If the answer to the above question is no, you might be better off not applying in the first place instead of shooting a number that is way above the budget for a position of similar caliber. Too high a number will surely disqualify you from the recruitment process and will leave an unpleasant impression in the recruiters and the hiring managers.

Another erroneous remuneration approach is to refuse to share your salary expectations. The financials are an important part of any recruitment – the interviewers need to know whether they would be able to meet the remuneration expectations of the candidate; otherwise the process might quickly turn into a waste of time for both parties. Refusing to share your salary expectations can lead to:

  • Turning the interviewers (they are humans, after all), more or less against your application.
  • The interviewers can decide to stop the recruitment process with you solely based on your attitude to the financial matter.
  • If you still reach the job offer part and it turns out the position budget is much lower compared to your expectations, you have invested your time, energy and effort in a useless exercise.

My advice regarding the remuneration question – do your research, think about your needs and be honest and responsible.

2. The company

Another of the certain questions and an early one – you will most probably get it on the phone interview, is what you know about the company you are applying to. Your lack of preparation on this topic shows lack of interest in the specific recruitment process and the organization and will most probably stop your further progress. It doesn’t take much to read a few articles before the interview, there is plenty of information online.

My advice: go prepared.

PersonalHR интервю за работа3. Personal responsibility

When you are asked to provide an example to illustrate a point or to tell about a project you are proud of, the way you construct your sentences is of crucial importance. To you, it might not really matter whether you will say “we succeeded thanks to” or “success was achieved thanks to”, but professional recruiters are trained to monitor meta language. So, a return structure, especially if used often, creates the impression you are not sufficiently engaged. I have a few examples of candidates who failed the recruitment process precisely because of their uncommitted speech constructions.

My advice: When you are talking about your achievements, try to communicate as clearly as possible, and focus on your contributions to the final results.

4. Why should we hire you?

I have emphasized on the importance of this topic and I will do it again, as there are so many candidates going to an interview and not being able to respond. It’s quite possible you don’t get it every time or that you get it in a different format: “Why do you think you are the most suitable candidate for the position” or “What distinguishes you from our other candidates?”

I will ask you one more time to put yourselves in the shoes of the interviewers –

1. What if they have several equally capable candidates and would like to choose the best one? Help them. Tell them about a skill you have that’s not obvious from the CV. Tell them about a very successful personal project. Tell them that on top of being fully qualified for the position, you have a specific attribute, which could prove very useful for the team or the organization.

2. What if they would like to better understand your motivation and check whether you have thought about why do you want to work there and how would you contribute? A well-thought answer to this questions will provide sufficient information on your engagement in the process and your preparation skills.

3. What if they’ve identified gaps in your performance so far, but they like you anyway and think you would be a good addition to the team? What if, with this question, they are looking to prove their instinct and to have a solid argument to present to the decision makers?

My advice: This topic is really important and can make the difference between an offer and a rejection, so – go prepared.

Подготовка за интервю PersonalHR кариерни консултации и коучинг5. Failure

When you are asked to tell about a failed project, a client you didn’t win or a wrong professional decision, and you have  hard time thinking of a good example, what impression do you think you are making? Certainly not of the perfect employee or manager, because they don’t exist.

  • If we put your answer in the context of “He who doesn’t work, doesn’t err”, the impression the interviewers form about you is that you are not really working.
  • If the purpose of this question was to check how you deal with situations in which you don’t achieve your professional objectives – and these situations are happening quite often – you miss your chance to show your unique approach.
  • If the purpose of the question was to test your self-knowledge and awareness, you failed the test.
  • If the position you apply for is a high-stressed one and the interviewers know you will encounter similar situations on a daily basis, you will certainly be disqualified and will not continue further.

My advice: Think about these situation before the interview and engage in a role play with a career coach or a friend, and go to the interview prepared.

If you need a career consultant who will prepare you for a job interview and will encourage and assist you, get in touch with me.

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