11 Rules to Crack Your Job Interview - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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11 Rules to Crack Your Job Interview

Jul 01, 2015


I find job interviews very amusing, and especially if it's not your first job. In the first one you're out of college, eager to learn and neither party is very demanding. So the process is very easy and more often than not, everyone will give you that first chance, especially if your grades are reasonably good and you've shown skills in other areas too.

But the tricky job interviews are those that you do while still at jobs or when you're out of one. Take for instance, just how does one honestly answer the question: "Why do you want to leave your existing job?" Can you tell a probable boss you didn't get along with your old boss?! Or can you tell them you just want to see more money?!

Well, the fact is we all want to say those things but we realise we have to be politically correct. We have to say things that project us in good light, and we have to be aware of interview etiquette before we walk into any new organization.

Your workplace eventually becomes your second home, your colleagues become like family and your job is a platform that should bring out the best of your talents and abilities. Figuring out whether the company is a right fit or not is as important for you as it is for the employer.

The first step to understanding this is the oh-so-crucial interview. Like they say, first impressions matter the most; at work too, your interview is the first impression and if made well, it can help you land that much-coveted position.

Here are some tips on getting your job interview right...

  1. Keep your resume updated: The interview process starts much before the interview. The first step is to keep a well-written, well-designed and up-to-date resume with your recent work experience and any other courses or educational initiatives you've been a part of. The resume is the first impression. If it's neatly designed in a structured and clear format, readable font and complete with all the information needed, that's half the battle won. I will not get into the various aspects of writing a resume as that's an article by itself, but I would like to give you just one tip: make a conscious effort to highlight your contributions to your past organizations and the different learnings you got from them.

  2. Research the company: It's always good to go through the company's website and research online for any other information you need. If possible, talk to its current employees you may know. This will give you an idea about the company's ethos and its eventual expectations from you. Also, it may be wise to know who the senior rung of the organization comprises of, this will give you a chance to get familiar with the names and designations before you get there. During the interview, some knowledge about the company, will also give you opportunities to talk about any ideas you have for it and why you see yourself being compatible with the organization.

  3. Dress for the occasion: Conservative and overdressed is generally the norm for job interviews. I would say, whatever you wear, ensure it's ironed, spotless and suits your style. Don't wear anything you've not worn before, as you don't want wardrobe malfunctions during an interview. Also solid colours work better as opposed to very loud prints or something too fashionable. You want to fit in with an organization, not stand out. Even if the organization is an ad agency and very hip, don't assume you can be too funky, play safe and wear what you would wear to any other job interview. Particularly for the service industry, where grooming is everything, polish your shoes and put on your favourite business suit.

    Source: Zerbor / Shutterstock

  4. Carry what you need: Getting organized before the interview is essential. You may want to carry more copies of your resume, just in case they need to be passed around. You can also carry samples of your previous work. For example, a folder with your work portfolio, a pen drive with your research, and a list of at least three references with their contact details. Additionally, also focus on carrying a nice formal folder rather than something cheap and made of plastic. A leather bound one or a textured one works well.

  5. Get there on time: There is no excuse for being late at an interview, it will definitely go against you. Do what you have to in order to be on time. Cancel all other meetings for the day, check out the location on Google Maps or ask someone what's the fastest way to get there from your home. Plan your route and mode of transport in advance and get there no earlier than 15 minutes before your scheduled time. You don't want to wait around for too long and feel awkward in the meanwhile.

  6. Turn off your cellphone: Another complete no-no: You can't have your phone ring or look down at it for messages while at an interview. So switch it off, put it away in your bag and forget about it for that period of time. You don't want to feel or look distracted as the interview should be the most important thing at that point in time; focus on it completely and pay full attention to the questions you're asked.

  7. Shake hands firmly: It doesn't matter if you are a man or woman here, the handshake has to be a firm one. But it should be initiated by the other person. Don't hold out your hand till you see the person hold his out. And when you see him initiate it, don't just give your fingers, it should be the full hand, with the four fingers stretched out and the thumb pointing upward, followed by a firm clasp - not so tight that you hurt the other person, just firm and sure - reflecting confidence and warmth at the same time.

  8. Listen to the questions: Being patient and hearing the interviewer out is the first part of a healthy dialogue during interviews. You may have a lot to say about yourself and the work you've done, but first understand what the other person wants to know. The questions in an interview are very often not about who you are and what you've done, but about how you will respond to certain situations and if your values match those of the organization. Let the interviewer finish his sentence, think it over and then respond.

  9. Work on body language: Body language acts as a gauge of your character and confidence. For example, if you don't make enough eye contact, you can be viewed as a shifty person, if you're fidgeting too much, you could be perceived as nervous, if you sit too stiff you could appear scared and tense. So look the person in the eye, smile to show you're relaxed, use hand gestures when necessary and sit straight and not hunched to show you're alert and not laidback.

  10. Don't get too chatty: You're here for business and work and not to make friends, so don't talk too much. Be to the point, add a dash of humour if needed but keep the conversation at a minimum. At a job interview, it's best to let the interviewer set the tone for the conversation. You should mainly focus on giving intelligent answers.

  11. Say thank you enough: From the receptionist who let you in, to the person who interviewed you and even the guard or liftman of the office building, say your thank yous. You'll be surprised at how your courteous nature may be tracked before and after the interview. Interview etiquette also demands a thank you note following the meeting, thanking the interviewers for their valuable time. Take out your best letter paper, use a good pen and write a thank you note... yes, the written one has more value than an email!

Are you feeling more confident about your next job interview now? So put on your best smile, straighten your tie and enter that boardroom with a calm and positive attitude, and be sure you'll definitely get that dream job and salary!


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