How to Improve Your Performance at Interviews

The short time you spend at a job interview could have a dramatic effect on your career prospects. It is therefore important that you perform well, because no matter how good your career record is to date, the employment interview remains an important step towards achievement of your ambitions. These hints will equip you with valuable information on how to conduct yourself during interviews.

Preparation for the interview:

Preparation is the essential first step towards a successful interview. Thus, it is important to:

  1. Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name along with his/her title.
  2. Find out specific facts about the company where its offices, plants or stores are located; what its products and services are; what its growth has been, and what its growth potential is for the future.
  3. Refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your present employer and former employers.
  4. Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job.
  5. Dress conservatively and preferably in darker colors. Pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming.

Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  1. Why did you choose this particular role?
  2. Why would you like to work for the new organisation?
  3. What do you want to be doing in your career five years from now? Why?
  4. What was your last salary and bonus?
  5. What style of management gets the best from you?
  6. What interests you about the products and / or services of the new organisation?
  7. Can you get recommendations from previous employers? What would they say about you?
  8. What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held? Which did you enjoy most? Why?
  9. What have you done that shows initiative in your career?
  10. What are your strengths?
  11. What are your major weaknesses? What are you doing about them?
  12. What do you think determines a person’s progress in a good company?
  13. What does teamwork mean to you?

Negative factors to watch for:

During the course of an interview, the employer will be evaluating your negative factors as well as your positive attributes. Listed below are negative factors frequently evaluated during the course of an interview which most of the time leads to rejections:

  1. Poor personal appearance
  2. Overbearing, aggressive, conceited, superiority complex, know-it-all
  3. Inability to express thoughts clearly, poor diction or grammar
  4. Lack of planning for career – no purpose or goals
  5. Lack of interest and enthusiasm, passive and indifferent
  6. Lack of confidence – nervousness
  7. Over-emphasis on money – interested only in remuneration
  8. Evasive – make excuses for unfavorable factors in record
  9. Lack of tact/maturity/courtesy
  10. Condemnation of past employers
  11. Failure to look interviewer in the eye
  12. Lack of appreciation of the value of experience
  13. Lack of preparation for interview – failure to get information about the company, resulting in inability to ask intelligent questions.

The interview:

You are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire somebody. Through the interaction which takes place during the interview, he/she will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities and he/she will probably probe deeply to determine your attitude, aptitude, stability, motivation and maturity.

Some “do’s” and “don’ts” concerning the interview

  1. DO plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early.
  2. If presented with an application, DO fill it out neatly and completely.
  3. DO greet the interviewer by his/her surname if you are sure of the pronunciation. If you are not, ask him/her to repeat his/her name
  4. DO shake hands or greet politely in accordance with customs
  5. DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker.
  6. DO look a prospective employer in the eye while you talk to him/her.
  7. DO follow the interviewer’s leads but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
  8. DON’T answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself which relate to the position.
  9. DO make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Make him/her realize the need for you in his/her organization.
  10. DO be prepared to answer typical questions such as: “What kind of job are you looking for?” ” What are your strengths/weaknesses?” “What do you know about our company?”  etc.
  11. DON’T lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible
  12. DON’T ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies
  13. DON’T enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses, etc. at the initial interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first.
  14. DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.

Closing the Interview:

  1. If you are interested in the position, ask for it. Ask for the next interview if the situation demands. If he/she offers the position to you, and you want it, accept on the spot. If you need some time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time. Set a definite date when you can provide an answer
  2. Don’t be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with his/her office first or interview more applicants before making a decision
  3. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected don’t let your discouragement show. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test you reaction.
  4. Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you. You have done all you can if you have answered the two questions uppermost in his/her mind.