How to Shine at an Interview

Being invited to a job interview means that you are one of the applicants who interests the employer the most. Try to make the most of the interview.

Get information about the employer and the position you are applying for. You can also try to find out who is going to interview you and what position this person has in the company. The better prepared you are for your interview the more calm and confident you will be.

Just as important as your qualifications is how you are as a person; that you are personally suited for the job and the working environment. The employer needs to get a picture of how you work, how well you tolerate stress, what kind of colleagues you are able to work with and which type of working environment you are best suited for etc. Sometimes your personality and being suited to the job can be more important than the skills you possess. The best ways to measure suitability are interviews and aptitude tests, with the former being more important.

Because there are as many different interviews as there are interviewers, you should try to be prepared for everything. Sometimes you will be interviewed by one person, other times there will be two ore more interviewers. Some enterprises will arrange only one interview, while other will look to meet you several times. You might get some tasks to do either individually or in groups.

Some basic rules regarding job interviews

  • Introduce yourself (in short: where you were born and raised, your education and work experience). Take all your necessary documents, e.g. certificates and transcript of record, and ensure that they are placed tidily in a plastic case.
  • Try to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Don´t show false modesty but don´t exaggerate your qualities either. You can mention three to five positive qualities and a similar number of negative ones and how you compensate for your weaknesses.
  • Know the company and the type of work you are applying for (it shows your interest towards the company).
  • Prepare some questions for the employer, e.g. about the position.
  • Be at the agreed place on the agreed time. Don´t be late!
  • The first impression is very important, so be careful about your appearance and make sure you use appropriate language.
  • Always greet your interviewer by shaking hands and introducing yourself by taking eye contact. 
  • Be aware of your body language.
  • Be aware of the people around you; do not exclude anybody if there are many people in the room.
  • Do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Listen and show that you are interested.
  • Do not get stressed by the questions - think, ask if you are uncertain, and then answer. It is normal that the interviewer asks unexpected and/or provoking questions to see how you react in an unexpected situation or how creative your thinking is.
  • Let a positive, dedicated, ambitious attitude show.
  • Be yourself when you are at your best and be honest!
  • Never talk critically about former employers or anybody else. Be diplomatic!
  • Be polite to everyone you meet in the company (you might not be remembered for your politeness, but you certainly will be remembered if you are impolite!).
  • It is your task to convince the employer that YOU are the right person for the job!

To show up on time, to be polite and interested and to be appropriately dressed are some of the factors guaranteeing a positive first impression. It is difficult to repair a poor first impression, especially when time is limited. A first employment interview seldom last longer than 30-45 minutes, but that of course varies from case to case.