Rules for a Successful Job Interview

Réfi Balázs

June 30, 2021

The job interview begins with preparation. We’ll show you how you can increase your chances before, during, and after the job interview.

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You can find your dream job at any time. And because your CV hit the target, you are invited to a job interview. A word of advice: rather than being disappointed afterwards, prepare yourself well in advance.

What are the best techniques for a successful job interview? You can find out more by reading our blog post.

Prepare for a Job Interview

I work as a CEO. Before I go to a business meeting, I make sure to be fully prepared for the negotiating partner. I check how long the company has been in the market, how many employees it's got, how its financial data look like. Then I check its online presence and study its services. I read the news and previous articles, to see if I can find out more. Furthermore, I check our previous contracts if we had any. I think about our issues carefully and I know every detail of them. When I get in the car and I leave for the meeting, I have all the information I need.

Are we done with the preparation? No.

In the car, on the way to my negotiating partner, I consider all the possible outcomes of this meeting. Not just one, but all of them. If I can see what the result of this negotiation could be, I develop the negotiation strategy and define the points I will refuse. As soon as I get to the meeting, I have the information, strategy, and I know exactly what I consider as a success and failure. We're ready for the business meeting, prep phase is complete.

I know it may sound strange that I put so much energy into preparing for a 1-hour discussion, but in my experience, that’s how it works. At least for me.

Job interview - Bluebird

How Does the Interviewer Prepare for the Job Interview?

But what about the meetings in which candidates come to me for a job interview and I choose whom to hire? Quite similar. In the vast majority of cases, I'm confident that I know more about my candidates than they do about me or the company. Why? Because I'd like to know whom I'm speaking with. Excellent sources include curriculum vitae, previously completed tests, and social media presence. The company from which they are coming, how much time they spent there, and how linear their CV is also reveals a lot about the applicants. Preparation, analysis, and start the interview.

Obviously, there are other ways to prepare for a meeting. But I think you should definitely ask yourself these questions:

1.

If you meet me at a job interview, how long will I know how interested you are in the job, how prepared are you?

2.

Do you think a well-prepared negotiating partner would give preference to an applicant who knows where they came from, whom they are talking with, what the company does? Or an applicant who obviously doesn’t have a clue?

3.

Preparation takes time. Do you want to work for a company that doesn't worth your time to get to know? You may work at this new company for 2-5-10 years. Is it really not worth 1-2 hours of your time to get to know where you are going?

Let's look at some easier and practical questions!

Date of the Interview

Choose or accept an appointment when you are sure you can get there on time. If you have another program before the scheduled meet, you should wait rather than be late. The European meeting rules are clear: don't be late, but don't come early either. Arrive just in time.

Some say: "Don't be late." Of course. But have you ever wondered if you arrive 10-15 minutes before the meeting, how your negotiating partner would feel? Suppose they are informed that, "XY has arrived for an interview." Answer: "But it's only 10:45 a.m. The interview is scheduled for 11 a.m. Offer them a seat and ...." It's not a good feeling to start like this.

Many suggest: arrive sooner to get used to the place. Do not do it!

My suggestion: come by when it is scheduled. Plus / minus 3 minutes.

Job interview preparation - Bluebird

Appearance, Clothing

On the interview, make sure you are well-groomed, appear in a company-appropriate outfit.
Having a suitable appearance is a must in every job. I know of an IT project where a senior IT professional was let go on his first day because he arrived extremely slovenly. What do you think? Does your appearance on the job interview project how your later outfit will look once you got the job? It does. If you’re not groomed on the interview, no one expects you to become that later.

Clothing is also extremely important. Avoid extremes, don’t rush in wearing surf pants coming from the beach and don’t even go to a job interview in your wedding suit! Restrained, discreet, elegant, in which you feel good. Don't wear an outfit you're not used to because you'll feel uneasy! If a suit is uncomfortable for you to wear, choose another one.

Ladies often fall victim to their own perfume. Think about it! If good ventilation is needed after the interview because of the intensive fragrance you are wearing, it doesn’t make anyone feel good. Excessively ostentatious, cut-out clothes should also be avoided.

For most companies, it is possible to determine in advance what dress code they have, i.e. how elegant appearance can be expected from the interviewers. If in doubt, however, be rather elegant than sloppy.

Collecting Information

Job interview - Bluebird

Thanks to the internet, because Google is your friend, it is now very easy to gather a large amount of relevant information. The spirit of the age is also working in your favour, as online presence is a basic requirement for all employers.

Review all possible information channels: the company's website, social media, professional blogs, news, publications. They convey a lot of information about the company.

During the interview, feel free to check out the fact that you have looked at the company's website and know its services! When during an interview the applicant tells me that they have googled at us on the web and they like our website, blogs, etc., I feel one thing: interest. What do they think, how do they see us? I usually ask them. The answers say a great deal about the applicant's text interpretation and analytical skills. What did you note, what is your opinion? Usually, these interviews will be long interviews. Why? Because I am interested in the candidate's opinion. On the other hand, going back to the preparation, I feel at this point that the candidate is also prepared, it makes sense to continue the conversation!

Knowledge of Job Description

It is a basic requirement for an applicant to know the position they have applied for. I often ask, "Based on the information so far, how do you see your specific tasks at us?" There are many answers to this question. Herding, misinterpretation, and concrete, well-worded lists. I know right away whether the candidate understood the assignments, knew what they were going to do, or didn’t have the energy to read the details of the job description. And if you can't even interpret a 1-page document during the interview, what will you do if you work for us?

Ideally, as a candidate in a job interview, you will have questions about your position. For example, "The job posting requires SQL knowledge (the language used to query the database). What is the expected level? Do you need to be able to write and run queries, or does it mean more?" It is a specific issue, which again encourages us to talk about the position, the tasks. How much better to hear this question than to say, "Yeah, I didn't even know SQL was important." "Hmm. It was included in the job advertisement ..."

Knowledge of Your CV

Job interview - preparation - job description - Bluebird

This point may seem strange, but believe me, it’s better to talk to someone who knows what’s on their resume than someone who can’t remember. "I don't even remember anymore" means: I have no idea, I've written my CV a long time ago. Another explanation: "I've done so many things already that I don't remember everything." This is not very positive either.

Take a close look at your resume. What would you ask if you were the interviewer? If you changed jobs every 1-2 years, wouldn’t you ask why? If you’ve been looking for a job for 1 year, won’t the question come up in the interview? It would.

Prepare from your own resume and the questions you will receive! Guess what these will be!

Social Media

It’s no secret that social media is a real goldmine for HR and headhunters who really want to get to know you. We take the time to flip through the applicants’ Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn profiles.

However, content that is meant to be funny or just very serious and published can make you look less than welcome, creating a negative impression. You may want to take the time to look critically at your text posts, photos, and change or delete the visibility of what you think is problematic! Or take them on, but know that these topics can come up in an interview!

Answers to Yourself

Thinking through of your answers and saying them out loud will go a long way in helping you prepare effectively. Once you have gathered the relevant and preparatory questions for the job interview and have thought through the possible answer, say it out loud or to yourself.

Be self-critical, try to eliminate any unwanted factors that arise, such as trembling voice. Preparation alone gives you confidence. Take it seriously!

Job interview - preparation - Blubeird

Preparing with Questions

In the case of a job interview, it is a two-way process, where the candidate can also ask questions about the position, or about the company. Moreover, HR explicitly expects candidates to ask because it can also indicate a quality of intent and commitment.

If you have questions, it shows that you are prepared, you know the job description. If you have valid questions, the interviewer will know how deep your knowledge about the job is.

Some example:

  • What roles and responsibilities does the position have?
  • If I were to fill the position, how and at what intervals would you measure my performance?
  • Which departments and areas does the team work with regularly?
  • What qualities and skills does the person who successfully fulfills the position have?
  • What are the current challenges those face who fill the position?
Job interview - Bluebird

The Interview Process

I will not go into details on what interview processes are common at the moment, in how many rounds, with what test tasks and how it happens. (Maybe in another article!) On the other hand, it’s worth looking at how a particular job interview is structured!

A job interview has several stages. I would note, however, that there can be a great variety, and there are even companies where certain steps may be missing.

In our experience, a job interview is conducted in a general way by introducing yourself, the employer introducing themselves, discussing the position, asking questions of the interviewer to make sure they fit. You will then have the opportunity to ask about the job. In the end, a payment request and a start date are reconciled. Don’t wait for a decision right away, however, you can rightly expect to receive feedback later whether the employer has chosen you or not.

The Job Interview

Ideally, you as a candidate would arrive perfectly prepared. If this is the case, you can answer with much more confidence and focus on the actual questions. There is nothing to do just be yourself.

Let's see what to look out for!

Be Honest!

All lies are revealed once. If they hire you, they will get to know you anyway and it will be clear to everyone at work what you understand and what you don’t. In vain if you say that you are an Excel guru the first working day could turn out to be quite the opposite. If you are not an Excel guru but you should be, be committed to learning it ASAP. (Not to mention that if you introduce yourself as an Excel guru, you can get a good little test right away. So, what will you do with that?)

Demonstrate your skills and knowledge to the level they really are. Focus on what you are really good at! Highlight the ones you may need as you work. What are these? If you have read the job advertisement, you will be aware of it quite accurately.

Your interviewers are professionals. They spot the lie, they spot it when your voice trembles or you poke your nose.

Give Specific Answers!

If you give specific answers to the questions, on the one hand, the interviewer will know what he asked for and on the other hand, everyone will know that you understand the question and your answer is relevant. "We can go on ..." With a general, evasive answer, everyone will know that there's something here that you don't want to talk about.

Since the time frame of the job interview is finite, you have no opportunity for wishy-washiness and baroque circular sentences. Your answers to the questions should be concise, focused and specific. After all, there is a concrete answer to a specific question.

Be Positive!

Everyone rewards honesty and a positive attitude. This job interview will also make it easier for HR people who are bombarding you with questions to contact you.

If you’re dismissive and aloof, they may not want to talk to you for long. Especially if they don’t know you well enough to know it would be worth it.

A positive attitude, a smile and cheerful, open body language strongly contribute not only to a good mood but also to constructive cooperation.

But, never be extreme, because in the end they begin to assume a dreamy fool or they start to suspect borderline syndrome.

Answer with Your Results!

Try to link your answers to the questions with your previous results and solutions. This is a great opportunity to show off your suitability for a particular job.

Information about Previous Jobs

When an interviewer asks about your previous job, they are mostly not wondering what kind of company it was, but how you communicate about it. If you start to get discreet, tell discreet information, you can guarantee that your new job can not expect discretion either. Which company needs this?

On the other hand, it is not elegant. In a job interview, on the other hand, they are curious about how you work as a problem solver, how you face challenges. Even if you don't like your previous or current work, don't leave room for negative feelings and thoughts, words. In situations like this, be more diplomatic or tell honestly that you don’t want to say bad things about your previous company. You are looking for another job precisely because of the wrong things. Instead, pay attention and, if necessary, talk about what positive experiences you have had and will have in the given situation and what you would like to do in the future.

The End of the Job Interview and What Follows

Everything comes to an end and it happens with job interviews as well. The question is, what do you do in this case, how can you support the selection process, what else can you do for success?

A proactive presence is definitely important: ask your interviewer or headhunter about “what the further process is”.

You can make a very good impression by sending a personalized thank-you note to those who attended the job interview within twenty-four hours.

In summary

One of the most important factors for a successful job interview is thorough preparation. You need to know the company, the specific position. Particular and tricky questions should be listed and the answers to them should be considered. Honesty and a positive attitude matter just as much as the  professionalism. Be yourself, go for it and good luck!

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