I was fortunate to be selected to be one of the interviewers for one of the top business consulting companies in Uganda. It was an enriching experience considering the fact that it has been a while since I last went for a formal job interview. Together with a team of experts from different fields we set off to interview eight candidates that had been shortlisted for the post of National coordinator in a space of six hours. It was a mental and physical marathon for both the interviewers and the applicants. I now share with you some of the insights that stood out for me as an interviewer that could help those of you seeking employment to adequately prepare for your next job interview.
Be on time: it is an embarrassment to be late for your job interview. It communicates a high level of unprofessionalism and un-seriousness. It is better for you to get there early and wait for your turn than have the panel of interviewers wait for you. One highly qualified candidate almost got disqualified because she was slightly late. So prepare in advance and be at the interview site on time.
Make a first impression: Dress to match the position you are applying for. The first impression makes a lasting impression on the people interviewing you. The looks do matter as much as your other qualifications. Look professional and aim at impression your potential employer by matching the image of the company you seek to work for by your presentation.
Be concise and precise: You don’t have the whole day to sell yourself. As a matter of fact you have a few minutes to make an impression so answer the questions in the most concise manner possible. Don’t waste times with irrelevant details rather be brief and straight to the point. Less is more in an interview so choose your words carefully to match the expectations of the interviewers.
Think outside the box: I noticed some very good candidates who disqualified themselves by quoting all that they had learnt in school. The fact that you are shortlisted means you already meet the academic qualifications so the interview is an opportunity for you to prove your competence. Wow your interviewers with creative and innovative approaches to the given role you are aspiring for. It is also important that you keep your suggestions within the limits of the company mission. Interview is not a classroom exam so no need to cram theories, what is important is the practical application of those theories.
Do a background research: Take the time to study about the company you are applying to so that you can match all your examples to the given company and role applied for. It is embarrassing to quote examples and illustrations that are totally out of context for the given company profile. Gather as much research about the employer as possible and relate all your answers to the scope of their work.
Long term perspective: Even if you are desperate for a job, be sure to give a clear projection of your future plans if you are given the job. Every employer is interested in the long term plan and sustainability of their company so one of the ways to impress them is by embracing a similar attitude and perspective. Show that you have a big picture of for your life, career, professional and personal development.
Value proposition: More than the salary and what you can get from the company, think about the value that you are bringing to the company and make it clear in your explanations. Value can be vital additional skills, networks, links and connections as well a new ways of doing things. This makes you more of a partner to the company than a mere employee. Think about what you can do for the company besides the stated job description and that can make you indispensable.
Financial literacy: most companies are looking for people who can multitask so acquaint yourself with all aspects of work including basic financial systems and fundraising. Fundraising and resource mobilization are crucial for the success of any company. Your experience in this regard will get you high scores compared to your competitors. Be knowledgeable and gain as much information about these work aspects. For example have suggestions for how the company can earn more income or increase its clients. This may be unsolicited but will show your commitment to the vision of the company even before you get the job.
Fire back: Normally at the end of each interview, you will be given an opportunity to ask questions. This is your moment to connect with the interviewers, ask questions that are relevant, such as when you could be required to start if not asked, salary scale and any other questions deemed relevant to your successful transition into the job. Inquire about safety precautions at work, staff development and other legal requirements. These kinds of questions take a whole lot of courage to ask and that is what will make you stand out.
Courteous: Remember to be polite and courteous. Ask to sit when you walk into the room if not offered a seat, smile at your interviewers and appreciate them for their time and efforts at the end of the interview. Those small gestures of warmth and kindness will go a long way in leaving an impression on the minds of your interviewers amidst so many people being interviewed.
These pointers will go a long way in preparing you to effectively handle your next job interview. Each interview is unique and different so remember to be flexible and to think on your feet. All the best as you aspire for your next job.