Tips for a job interview

The purpose of a job interview is for recruiters or employers to decide whether you fit the organisation culture, whether you could handle the job tasks and whether you can represent the company well to clients and others. The job interview has a purpose for the recruiter or employer, but it is also a perfect way for you to find out whether the company and job match your wishes, ambitions and expectations. To improve your job interviews you can register for the workshop 'Job interview'.

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Your preparation

  • Read your CV and application letter again to make sure you know what you wrote and what you highlighted.
  • Read the job description, so that you know what you should definitely focus on during the interview.
  • Research the company and work field.
  • It is important to make a good first impression on the interviewers. Decide upfront what to wear. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Also check how you can get to the interview location and make sure you are there at least 15 minutes in advance.
  • Prepare questions that you can ask the interviewer. This shows that you are really interested and have done your homework.

Type of interview questions

  • Biographical questions: These questions are designed to put you at your ease and to tell something about yourself. For example: can you tell me something about yourself? If I asked your best friend/a colleague/fellow student who you are, what would he/she tell me about you?
  • Motivation questions: These questions are designed to measure your motivation for a certain job/career. For example: Why did you apply for this specific job? What is it about this job that attracts you? What are your career goals? Which aspirations or ambitions do you have? What do you like about our company? Why do you want to work for our company? Why did you choose our company?
  • Strengths-based questions: These questions are designed to measure your inner strengths/qualifications/skills and see how much understanding you have of yourself. For example: What are you good at? What do you do well? When do you feel you are most like yourself? When are you at your best? What drives you? What gives you energy? What stimulates you? What are your skills? Do your skills fit the job? What are your strengths – weaknesses? Why should we hire you? Why you rather than someone else?
  • Hypothetical/case questions: What would you do if…..? These, often complex, cases are designed to test your ability to think quickly and anticipate unexpected questions/situations. For example: What would you do if you had to make a big decision that would have major consequences for the company? What would you do if you had an argument with a colleague? How many balloons fit in this room? Remember that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions! The interviewer is mainly interested in how you handle such a case, what your approach is to solving the case. You have to show your analytical skills, your creativity, your flexibility in thinking if the interviewer suddenly comes up with new information etc.
  • Competency-based questions: These questions are designed to measure certain core competencies that will be important in executing the job successfully. The focus will lie on how you used these skills in the past. For example: Tell us about a situation where your communications skills were crucial? Describe a situation in which you really demonstrated good listening or writing skills? These questions refer to the STAR interview.

During the interview

  • Answer carefully. If the interviewer asks you a question and you do not know the answer right away, repeat the question out loud (in your own words) so you can briefly think about your answer. Alternatively, decide at that moment to take a sip from your coffee or tea. That also gives you some thinking time!
  • Use examples from previous work experience, extra curricular activities or study related activities (STAR method).
  • Stay professional in your answers. Don’t answer and greet an interviewer in an informal manner.
  • Silences during questions or while answering a question aren't necessary a bad thing. Be precise in your answers. Don’t talk just to keep the conversation going.
  • If you do not understand a question or you need more clarification, just ask the interviewer. It’s better to ask for more explanation about a certain question.
  • Remember that the interviewer does not know you. They only know you on paper. So don’t think that they will assume or infer certain things from your CV or application letter, because they are so obvious to you.
  • You have to be positive throughout the interview. Never speak negatively about previous colleagues, employers, recruiters or others. You have to show the interviewer how you would make the most of the same situation in the future.
  • Most of all, stay relaxed during your interview. The best way to achieve this is to prepare well and go in with an open mind. If they are interested in you: great! If they reject you: on to the next! There are plenty of fish in the sea!

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