Chestnut Education Group

The 3 Stages to a Successful Interview

You’ve successfully graduated from college with a brand new degree in your hands! And now, the only thing standing between you and your dream job is an interview.

Designing a magnificent resume and a cover letter to compliment it requires time and effort, but we’ll leave that aside for another day. Now, assume that you have sent your magnificent resume out to your potential employer, made yourself a cup of tea and is patiently waiting for that phone to ring.

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Getting hired is not a quick and easy process. Most recruitment processes can be lengthy. Facing a single interview and getting hired instantly has now become a thing of the past. Most companies today begin with an over-the-phone screening interview, followed by an interview examination, then a face-to-face interview with the recruiter and finally an interview with your manager or head of department, before they finally decide if they want to hire you.

You may never know the exact steps of the interview process, but it’s important to be fully prepared ahead of time to make sure there are no surprises. We’ve broken this process down into 3 stages:

 

1. Pre-interview:

  • When that phone rings with the news that your resume has caught their eye, you can be sure to expect a small over-the-phone screening conversation to get some details from you. It could be simple questions such as where you are currently working and why have you decided to apply for a new job. Chris Lyons, Operating Director at leading recruitment company Michael Page says, ‘’’Try to avoid going into interview mode. Showing your genuine personality is important, without crossing the line into over-familiarity.” Don’t forget to note down the location, time and place.
  • Preparation is key and requires the most time and investment prior to your first interview. As a job applicant, you need to do careful research about the company’s history, values, mission and vision, the reach of the company, its CSR activities and other important factors relevant to your job position. You also need to prep answers for potential questions that might be asked to ensure that your answers are in line with what’s written on your CV because they are sure to notice.
  • First impression is extremely important. It’s essential that you put together professional attire the night before the interview. Some companies try to promote a fun work culture and would request you to come dressed in smart casual but then again, there’s a reason why ‘smart’ comes before casual. Have a hard copy of your resume ready in a file along with your certificates so that the interview panel is given the impression that you are an organised person.

 

2. At the interview:

  • First things first; ensure that you arrive at your interview location at least 15 minutes ahead of time because showing up late is an absolute no-no. If you feel that you may be running late, it’s common courtesy to inform them ahead of time, so that they can take another applicant in or reschedule.
  • Put your phone on silent or have it switched off before walking into the interview room. Make conversation with other job applicants who are waiting their turn because some companies intentionally do this to observe how good you are at communicating or if you are a people person.
  • Greet your interviewer or interview panel and make sure you don’t blurt out good morning if it’s past noon – your nerves will try to confuse you. Have a short pitch ready for when they ask you to tell them about yourself. Don’t take this as an invitation to describe your personal life and list of hobbies. Instead, talk about your education, qualifications, skills and experience. Focus on skills that are relevant to the job you have applied for because they would want to hear how you can contribute to their company.
  • If prompted about why you want to leave your current job role, refrain from putting down your current employer because that will only bring about a bad impression on yourself. It’s courteous to ask for a one-month notice period because this shows that you respect your current employer to give them enough time to fill your position. Always wait for them to ask you your salary expectation instead of asking how much you will get paid.
  • If you possess a professional diploma or a bachelor’s degree, always give the impression that you are looking to study further and complete your MBA programme or pursue a professional diploma. Employers value those who continue to progress their career.

 

3. Post-interview:

  • Your interview may be over, but the process is still incomplete. Always send out a thank you note via email, thanking your interviewer for their time.
  • A pet peeve for most candidates is waiting around for that second or third interview phone call because some companies don’t take the liberty of informing candidates that unfortunately the position has been filled. It’s important to ensure that you do not call and pester them for an update because it’s the company’s duty to get back to you.
  • No matter how well you think the interview went, do not take to social media and post about it. Some candidates go to the alarming extent of updating their employer status on LinkedIn which will only cause you to lose any chances of landing that job. Or loudly exclaiming your recent victory with some strong language, only to find your superior is on Twitter as well, as with the recent incident involving a NASA intern. Employers value confidence but certainly not over-confidence.


Overall, having a successful job interview from start to finish is important for you to sell yourself to potential employers. Being short-listed for an interview from amongst a 100 possible applicants is exactly why you need to invest time and effort towards getting it right, even if it means you might not get the job. Most companies retain CVs that particularly stand out and get in touch with you down the line, or offer you a different job that they think might suit your skill set and experience. So take these points to heart and best of luck for your next interview.

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