Advice for Students

Ten Tips on How to Master a Job Interview

September 01, 2011  |     |   0 Comment

Given my experience managing recruitment at both a local law firm and Canada’s largest national law firm, I possess a unique perspective as to what employers are seeking in potential employees.  Whether you are a student who will soon be graduating from college or university and applying for your first job, or are an experienced professional seeking a career change or advancement, here are some tips to consider if you wish to master your job interview:


Be Alert

This may seem obvious, but be well-rested and alert for your interview. Potential employers want to know that you are engaging and energetic.  No doubt you will be nervous and may have some difficulty turning off your brain the night before a job interview. Keeping this in mind, do not drink caffeine too late the night before and try to get to bed a little earlier than usual as you may require extra time to fall asleep. Be sure to set your alarm clock with enough time to get ready for your interview the next morning without feeling rushed. You want to arrive at your interview as cool, calm and collected as possible so you can master the job interview.

Be On-Time

Whatever happens don’t be late!  Arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled time of your interview.  Any earlier you may appear to be “too eager”, anything later and you may appear to possess poor time management skills.


Be Prepared

Be sure to do your homework. Go onto the company’s website to learn as much as you can about it as well as each individual who will be on your interview panel.  In preparation for your interview, anticipate potential questions that may be asked and be able to answer them intelligently.  Many interviewers will be curious to find out whether you are a team-player, possess initiative, a strong work ethic and sound judgment, or are able to handle stressful situations well. They will also want to know about your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare answers to recite when prompted – you’ll find it a much easier process if you do. Be able to demonstrate how the skills and characteristics you possess are transferrable and fit within the job for which you have applied.


Dress for Success

Studies show that clothing may account for 55% of a job candidate’s first impression.   Having a polished appearance makes a much more positive impression than if you appear dishevelled. Make sure your hair is neat and tidy and clothes clean and crisp. Be aware of the corporate culture and dress accordingly. Traditionally, you can never go wrong by wearing a properly fitted suit.


Make a First Great Impression

It only takes five seconds to make an impression – so make sure it is a great one!  From the moment you enter the reception area you are being judged – like it or not. How you meet and greet others will say a lot about you.  Smile.  Be polite. Make sure you have a firm handshake without breaking anyone’s bones. Make direct eye contact with people that you meet, and let them know it is a pleasure to meet them. Be aware of your posture – stand straight, shoulders back, arms to the side, and chin up.


Be Ready to Ask Questions

Let the interview panel lead the interview but remember that you do not have to wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. While they are telling you all about the job and the company, questions from you at this point will emphasize your interest in the position. Show the panel that you have gone the extra mile and taken the time to find out that bit more about the company or about each of them.


Be Yourself

The interview panel should leave with a good idea of who you are so do not be afraid to have a genuinely interesting conversation with them for fear of what they will think. The panel will appreciate your efforts and value the opportunity to see you for who you really are and what you may be passionate about. Do not answer a question simply with what you may think the panel wants to hear.  Believe me, interviewers know when answers are “canned” which may leave an impression that the answer to their question is insincere.  The interview is a perfect time to let your personality shine.


Be Enthusiastic

You’ve been invited for interview because they believe you can do the job. On the day of the interview it is down to you to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job. Even if you do not meet each and every criteria for the job, you will have something just as good or even better to offer than other candidates. The interview panel does not know this yet, so you have to tell them.


Demonstrate Why You Want the Job

Ask yourself why you want this job because you will likely be asked this on the day of the interview. Only you know the answer and you need to make it a good one. Just because you need a job is not a good enough reason for someone to hire you. Ask yourself what you actually know about the company. Are you interested in a long-term career or is this simply a stepping-stone for you? The panel might ask you where you see yourself in six months or in five years from now. Be ready with a well-thought-out answer. This may be easy to answer if you see yourself long-term with the company, but not so easy to answer if you do not.


Be Memorable

Your ultimate goal is to get the job, but keep in mind that you just might not get it or it might turn out to be a job you are uninterested in.  It is extremely important to be memorable. If this job does not work out for you, you need to do whatever it takes to remain in good standing with the company so they think of you for future opportunities. If you find out that you did not receive the job, follow up with a hand-written note and a hand-addressed envelope to each person on your interview panel thanking them for their time and ask them to keep you in mind for any future opportunities. You should do so within 48 hours of the interview. Use personalized stationary.




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