The world is fast transforming. We have no idea as to how the world will change in two- or three-years’ time. And to meet the requirement of such fast unprecedented changes employers will have to think differently and look for people who can adapt fast and be the perfect choice for a job. How then can we apply the lessons we learn today to build a new and different tomorrow?
In this write-up, I am going to discuss the problems that most of my students come up with- how to prepare for a successful future and how best to prepare for their first upcoming job interview. Interviews make candidates nervous, stressed and panic-stricken. And the greatest fear arises from how to answer each interview question.
Would it not be great if as potential candidates you knew exactly what you will be asked in an interview? It is indeed possible to speculate the most important interview questions. But that comes with meticulous preparation. The key to a successful interview is always sound preparation. Preparation is an integral part of the interview process irrespective of whether a person is a fresher or an experienced professional. In your first-time conversation with an interviewer or a hiring manager, you need to be rather well prepared.
As a candidate who is going to be interviewed by a hiring team of a company, you need to understand and be in alignment with the culture of that company. It is vital that you research the company, as well as the position you have applied for. Conduct a thorough research of the company to understand its mission, vision and goals. After researching the company, have a clear idea of its objectives, key competitors, products, services and organisational structure. You can draw upon this knowledge about the company in the course of your interview. This will project your keen interest for the job. Review your resume and application for the position, as interview questions will often refer to these. Your knowledge of your prospective employer will help you to answer the oft-stated question: ‘What do you know about us (the company)?’
An important point to remember is to familiarize yourself with the job description, and understand what the job entails and how you could be the most suitable candidate for the job, based on your credentials and background. A common question, you will find, interviewers ask candidates these days is, – Why do you want to work for us? An ideal answer would be to say something that could match a candidate’s skills and career goals with the things listed in the job posting. For example, if as an interviewee your skills match the job advert, you have good communication skill, innovative thinking and look for challenges in a job you could phrase your answer in this manner – “I am sincere with good communication skills and keen to grow my career in a company that would provide a globally challenging environment. With my ability to think out of the box, I look forward to accept and fulfil the challenges that come my way. I am fascinated by your company’s consistent growth, passion for innovation and challenges in addition to the excellent onsite training and certification opportunities you offer to employees. It would be an honour to be part of such a company, of course, if I am selected.”
It is now your turn to prepare the “elevator speech” that will make you stand out from the rest. An elevator speech is your answer to the first question of any interview, “Tell me about yourself”. Compose your elevator speech in writing and practice until you can do it without rambling and it comes naturally to you. Begin your ‘elevator speech’ with an identification of yourself in terms of your educational background or profession. Emphasize your skills, experience, and personal characteristics that make you a good fit for the position you have applied for. This will be of special interest to the interviewer. Talk about achievements, strengths and your goals. Your ‘elevator speech’ will determine what value you could bring to the company and your role there.
The next vital step in the interview preparation process is to create your SWOT Analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Self-awareness is necessary for creating a personal SWOT analysis. As an interviewee, SWOT will help you to become the best version of yourself. To write a personal SWOT, identify your goals, list the strengths you have and the weaknesses that is preventing you from reaching your goal. Now identify the opportunities you have and the ones you would be able to create to achieve your goal. And finally check the threats that act as a hindrance to your opportunities.
Now get prepared as to how you will tackle Behavioural Interview questions. Learn to implement the STAR method. Behavioural questions are asked to get a better understanding of how a candidate can tackle a variety of working situations. This kind of questions usually begin with, Tell me about a time when …. Or Give an example of a situation when…. STAR which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result is the best way to format your answers for a Behavioural Interview. Include real-life examples into your answers and refer to your accomplishments.
At the end, remember your interviewer would try to find out if you are the best candidate for the job and if you would be able to significantly contribute to the growth of the company. It is important you share examples to demonstrate and emphasize your skills and strengths.
You need to be ready to practice a few stressful questions as well. For example- What did you learn from your setbacks and failures? You might also be asked to explain a gap in your CV, if you do have one. Or if you are a working professional, you would probably be required to answer why you wish to leave your current company or why you have decided to switch jobs. Be well prepared and confident with your answers for these specific questions.
Talking about your past accomplishments is important nonetheless what sets you apart is what you have achieved today. Consider every interview as an opportunity. Be enthusiastic. Prepare, practice and win it.