A job interview is nothing more than a mutual exchange of information between an employer and you, as a candidate for a position. Therefore, it is a two-way process. There is no universal way to approach the interview, you will need to develop your own style based on your personality and the position you are applying for.
To help you prepare, we have written this guide: reading it you will find everything you need to know to face the job interview in the best way.
How to get a job interview?
Finding work today is increasingly difficult: companies are bombarded with CVs all the time. It is not easy to get out of anonymity and hit an employer so that it selects you, among the many candidates. To convince them it is necessary to start with some simple rules, starting with the composition of the curriculum: first of all, you must present your professional photo, bright and that portrays you smiling. It would be preferable to wear formal clothes, without pendants or hats, with a half-length shot.
The curriculum must therefore be personalized: it is important to be able to put something of your own that sets you apart, highlighting your qualities and your passions. It is also advisable to accompany the resume with a cover letter, which in addition to a presentation of yourself highlights the reasons that lead you to apply for a specific job.
It is also essential to be able to create a professional network – for example through LinkedIn – by adding acquaintances and people who work in the sectors of your interest: recruiters and company employees often publish on their profiles searches for personnel and announcements of open positions to which you could apply.
“If opportunities don’t knock, build a door.”
How is a personnel selection process structured?
Generally, companies looking for collaborators face three main moments:
- the search for personnel
- the evaluation of the CVs received and of the candidates
- placement in the company
Before proceeding with the choice of the candidate, a company takes stock of the duties to be performed by the new employee, his / her responsibility and his / her remuneration. Based on the characteristics of the job, he will proceed with the choice. Recruitment can take place either within the company, through word of mouth from employees or CVs sent spontaneously, or externally and in this case, it is based on announcements, agencies, universities, advertisements in newspapers or periodicals
The various applications are then collected, the most suitable is selected and then the chosen people are contacted. We then enter the phase of candidate evaluation, which can be made up of test, assessment centers and individual interviews. It is the decisive moment because at the end of this process the candidate is chosen to fill the job position.
For him, however, a third phase begins, that of insertion into the company, which is another delicate step and in which paths of coaching, integration, knowledge with other employees, sharing of projects are foreseen. In fact, orientation and training are not limited only to the period before entering the world of work, but also after.
What are the most common activities you might find yourself facing at a job interview?
1. The psycho-aptitude test before the job interview
These are tests that want to verify the psychological qualities of the candidate, his predisposition to fill a specific role or task beyond the technical skills that the job requires. Multiple choice or closed choice questions are proposed and of course, the questions must be answered within a specific time frame. They are usually proposed in public competitions, but increasingly they are also found in private companies.
2. The first job interview (the cognitive-motivational interview)
After submitting the resume, the person in charge of hiring invites the candidate for a meeting. The meeting is a real interview with questions that can range from the workplace to the personal one. The candidate, in addition to talking about himself and his passions, will have to explain the reason why he wants to work for that company, he will also be asked for plans for the future and to highlight his strengths and weaknesses. Very often the recruiter only needs one cognitive interview to understand if the candidate in front of him is the right person to fill the proposed job.
Other times, however, a second interview is needed. The cognitive-motivational interview is the fulcrum around which the possibility of hiring gravitates. Therefore it is essential that the candidate makes a great impression, dresses appropriately, is confident and confident, arrives very prepared for the company where the interview is, focus one hundred percent on the moment and on the questions that are asked and possibly also try to surprise the employer with particular ideas.
3. The second job interview (the technical interview)
If it is true that the first impression is never forgotten, it is equally true that often the second is the decisive one. This is why the second interview becomes at least as important as the first. Once the second interview was almost a pro forma, the confirmation of an upcoming engagement. But today, also due to the many applications, this is no longer the case. Usually, the second interview is done by a different recruiter from the first, a more technical figure, who will ask more specific questions about what is the job for which the candidate has proposed. Since this is a more technical meeting it is essential to be extremely prepared on the tasks that will be carried out, as well as on the company itself (the values, its past, the challenges that await it in the future and so on).
4. The assessment center and the group interview
Used to identify the skills needed to carry out a professional activity, the assessment center is a group interview that analyzes the degree of affinity and collaboration with others, the ability to know how to obtain results by working in a team. The verification of these abilities takes place through exercises that simulate reality. The tests are not only in groups, they can also be individual or couple. The candidate is led to play a role in a certain situation in which he is asked not only to solve problems but also to make collective decisions, organize generic activities, show managerial and leadership skills. The advice is always the same: don’t panic, stay focused on the moment, believe in yourself and be yourself.
5. The final job interview (the last step before the proposal)
The mistake that candidates usually make, when contacted for the final interview, is to reduce the attention threshold, to assume that it is now done, that the road to recruitment is downhill. On the contrary, it is necessary to remain “on the spot” until the moment of the much-desired signature. The final interview is the last but decisive step, the final straight that will allow you to cross the finish line. And to do it you absolutely must not let your guard down. We must continue to remain focused and professional without appearing arrogant.
This interview, in fact, usually is held with the responsible manager or the CEO and is the one in which the remuneration is negotiated is based on the candidate’s experience and seniority. To better prepare, the candidate needs to remember what he or she talked about in previous interviews, the important details of the conversations that could turn into a reason for dialogue.
How long can a selection process take?
There is no single answer to this question. It depends on the context, the company, the employer, the type of job that is required, the urgency of the research and the internal dynamics of the company. As mentioned earlier, there are companies where only one job interview is enough. Others where more meetings and more passages are needed. Clearly, the more candidates are selected, the more the process is likely to become long and elaborate.
The hiring process usually involves a candidate tracking system followed by a second screening by a manager. Some of the candidates are then invited to the interview. Sometimes it is done remotely with a video interview or even over the phone. Usually, in these cases, there is then a second meeting in person. The response times of the company also vary: it can go from two days to weeks. It would be a good idea to always let the candidate know if he has passed the selection phase, but it is good that you know that unfortunately sometimes the feedback is not returned.
The new frontiers of recruiting: from a video job interview on Skype to chatbots
The world changes. Technological innovations have transformed our daily life in many aspects. Even in job interviews. Many companies no longer follow the classic route of in-person interviews, but prefer different forms, using video interviews, gamification and chatbots. The video interview, remotely, is a traditional interview only performed through video call software. Usually, the most used platform in these cases is Skype, with the candidate asked to answer questions and curiosities as if he were in the company in person.
Here are some useful tips for facing the video interview: dress professionally, connect from a suitable location (a living room or study room, not the bathroom or bedroom), avoid – if you can – the passage of other people who can be framed by the webcam and try to remain as still as possible, so as not to give unpleasant motion effects in the video.
gamification is the use of game elements in “non-game” contexts, such as the company, which can serve in a job interview to understand the skills of a candidate.
Then there is the last frontier of the recruiting bot (chat + robot), that is artificial intelligence programs: candidates are asked various questions that change according to the answers and can investigate the most disparate aspects, from technical skills to soft skills, up to personal passions. If you want to know more about the recruiting bot, you can also read “Job interview with the recruiting bot? Six tips to deal with it”.
How to approach a job interview?
When a candidate shows up for an interview, the recruiter will try to gain as much information about him as possible. And he will not only look at the substance and content but also at the form. This is why it is important to arrive on time, not late, but not too early (ten minutes before, at the latest).
The look is fundamental: the candidate must show up without too obvious hats or necklaces and dress appropriately depending on the type of company in question. It is necessary to appear casual, confident and self-confident, but not arrogant, on the contrary: humility and willingness to learn, making oneself available, are certainly added values for a new hire.
Another very important aspect is to be informed about the company’s activities. It is not excluded that the recruiter asks questions about what the values or history of the company are and of course, expects the candidate to know them in-depth: this is the best way to demonstrate that you are motivated and interested in working precisely for that company and not for another. It is also advisable to find ways to interact with the recruiter by asking appropriate questions about the work to be done.
Below we deepen all the aspects to better face the job interview.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether they’re 20 or 80.”
How to best prepare for the job interview?
As a student for an exam, coming up prepared for a job interview is also the foundation for a candidate. The first step in getting ready is to reply to the meeting email, trying to be formal and getting straight to the point. At that point, the candidate is advised to collect as much information as possible about the company by visiting the website, social pages and looking for useful news on search engines. It is very likely that during the interview the recruiter will ask specific questions about the company values and arriving prepared becomes crucial. Similarly, if you know the name of the person who will conduct the interview, you can try to figure out who he is by looking at his LinkedIn profile.
How to introduce yourself to a job interview: the elevator pitch and the handshake
Those who get off to a good start are half the battle, says a saying. Finding a way to break the ice in a conversation using the “right words” represents an indisputable added value, breaks the emotional tension and allows you to immediately put the interlocutors at ease, even more so when it comes to a job interview. One of the most effective ways is the so-called ” elevator pitch “, which represents the ability to be able to say the salient features about oneself in a very limited amount of time, just like the ride of an elevator.
This is a moment of introduction, a short but effective presentation of yourself, but also of an idea or product. It’s not easy to turn an elevator pitch into a move you can use to your advantage. Much depends on the moment, also because often the most appropriate phrases and words are the result of instinct and are not programmed. It is possible to work a little on yourself and do some exercises, for example trying an elevator pitch situation with family and friends. It is essential to be brief, concise, to be able to capture the interlocutor’s attention and interest in a particular way.
A common practice is to start an interview with a handshake. A sign of respect and this too is a way to share the moment, trying to put oneself and those in front of oneself at ease. It is not only with words, but also with gestures, that attention can be struck: practice shaking hands with your friends or family so that it is not too soft (it could be understood as a sign of a submissive nature) nor too much. strong (could be mistaken for arrogance or lack of sensitivity).
How to dress for a job interview: the perfect outfit
As we’ve already mentioned, content is the basis for making a good impression during the interview. But the look also wants its part! There is no perfect outfit for a job interview. It really depends on the company: you can dress elegantly or more casually. The important thing is to find a style that matches its ideals as much as possible. However, there are some golden rules that you should respect.
First of all, pay attention to hygiene: if it is missing it can ruin even the best dress in the world, so you need to dedicate time, in the hours preceding the interview, to taking care of your body. It is advisable to use light and pleasant perfumes, not excessive, to have clean and tidy hair and to check face, hands and nails well. As for clothes, there is no perfect one, just look professional and in line with the company’s values, avoiding excesses. For a detailed study on the look, read the article “The perfect outfit to face the job interview”.
How to behave in a job interview: non-verbal language
In addition to the outward appearance and preparation of a speech, another point that should not be underestimated during an interview is knowing how to control body language. Non-verbal communication is as important as verbal communication.
It is normal for a job interview to generate a little anxiety, the secret is to be able to hide it, bypassing the obstacle. To do this, there are some precautions to follow: first of all it is advisable to sit down in a way composed, keep your feet firmly on the ground and your back straight. You can move your arms and not necessarily keep them rigid on the armrests, but the important thing is not to cross them.
As mentioned earlier, as soon as you get to the interview it’s good to give a good handshake and repeat the same operation at the end. Another focal point is the look: looking into the eyes of our interlocutor is a sign of attention and self-confidence. Although it is recommended to take a look at the room from time to time: it gives the idea of becoming familiar with the environment and knowing how to control it. When answering the questions, don’t get too excited, wait even a few seconds before creating an appropriate answer and don’t go too far. Short and incisive, in short. It is always possible to do some tests at home with relatives and friends, in order to arrive at the interview prepared also from this point of view.
The trick to having a good job interview: preparation!
The focus of the interview, beyond self-care and managing your emotions, is what you say. Getting prepared is not only important, it is the fundamental basis for making a good impression. By being prepared, however, we do not only mean having an incisive cover letter and a high-level resume but also knowing in depth the company you are trying to join.
Before the interview, the candidate should research the history and values of the company, consult the website, do research, inquire about the internal structure, objectives and philosophy, the latest news. More information will be found better will be. It is very likely that the recruiter will ask specific questions and it is essential to provide adequate answers, in order to make it clear that the candidate’s goal is to be able to work for that particular company and not for others. The candidate will always be able to dress the answers by talking about himself and his aspirations, highlighting the qualities and reasons that led him to send the curriculum. Awareness, motivation and enthusiasm are the basis for a successful interview.
“It is not enough to know, one must also apply; it is not enough to want, one must also do.”
Other tips to better face the job interview
Being yourself is always the best advice for a job interview. Spontaneity, naturalness remain the best cards to play because they are the ones that best represent who we really are. We have seen how to arrive prepared, show enthusiasm and make it clear that our choice fell precisely on that company, are virtues absolutely to be appreciated. On the other hand, however, it is good not to appear pleading and that somehow we need that job. It is necessary to be desired a little, leave an aura of mystery, not play all the cards immediately.
Furthermore, in an interview, the candidate is clearly invited to answer questions. But he can do it in turn. Indeed: the more you manage to interact with the recruiter and not passively undergo an interview, the better because it denotes a spirit of initiative and mental flexibility. Obviously, being a digital age, in addition to the paper curriculum and the cover letter, it is also advisable to properly take care of your social profiles. Learn more about the topic in the article “4 tips to better face a job interview” and in the article “5 tips for a CV and a winning job interview”.
“The most precious of all talents is never to use two words when you can only use one.”
Five mistakes you shouldn’t make in an interview
We’ve already talked about it in part, but we still want to highlight the five mistakes you absolutely shouldn’t make in a job interview.
- Avoid arriving late. It is good to plan the route that separates us from the place chosen for the interview, avoiding obstacles and unforeseen events. The latecomer is perceived as indifferent. However, arriving too early can also represent a limitation, in this case, synonymous with anxiety and weakness. The ideal is to show up no more than ten minutes before.
- Forget the phone on or vibrate. It is recommended to turn it off or put it in silent mode. Receiving a message or a phone call during an interview is a symptom of a lack of attention.
- Ask about salary right away, as it testifies to a venal approach on the part of the candidate: he may seem more interested in getting good pay than the job itself.
- Don’t pay attention to non-verbal language. Gesturing excessively or not holding the gaze. But also to dress in an inappropriate way or, even worse, to appear unclean or cared for.
- Telling lies. Being honest, even at the cost of leaking a flaw or a lack, is always the best choice.
Don’t get worried about a job interview!
One of the “enemies” when it comes to getting a job is anxiety. It is definitely a normal emotion and no matter how hard we try to control it, we cannot avoid erasing it because it is part of us. Rather. Anxiety is positive to a certain extent, it is an indicator that we care about that job and allows us not to underestimate the situation, prepare ourselves adequately and keep attention during the interview. The important thing is to focus on the present.
Another basic aspect is to avoid underestimating yourself and not feeling up to the situation. After all, if you have been selected for that particular job interview, it means that you have intrigued the recruiter. And that from your curriculum some qualities emerged that the company intends to deepen to understand if it is really in front of the right person. If you get an interview it means that you have already taken a first step on the road to hiring.
The questions you will have to answer in a job interview
Who among us would not want to have the crystal ball to know what are the questions that will be asked on the day of the fateful interview? Well, even if we are not seers, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions that they could ask you.
Job interview: what are the most frequently asked questions?
Yes, at the top of the list is the fateful question “where do you see yourself five years from now?”. Many candidates don’t know what to answer: five years is not a very long time, but an important one for your career. This is a question to gauge your ambition.
In the second place, there are usually questions like “what is your weakness?”, “What is your main flaw?”. In this case, the recruiters want to probe your sincerity and understand if you are uncomfortable talking about your weaknesses.
Then follows the question “Do you have any questions for us?”, which should not be underestimated. A good candidate always asks for more information from the company they are applying for, starting with details regarding the job, ending with the corporate culture and its reference values.
What if the job interview was in English?
Some job positions require knowledge of English or a second language. Don’t lie about your language skills: During the interview you may be asked to express yourself in English, to establish a dialogue with the recruiter or with a dedicated person, both on matters related to the job position, or on a subject of your choice.
How to make an excellent presentation in English for the job interview?
This moment obviously aims to understand what your real level of knowledge of the language is, so we recommend that you prepare a speech about yourself, to illustrate your English skills, and to also prepare yourself for the duties of the job position for which you are applying.
Is it legitimate to ask about the outcome after the job interview?
Once the interview is complete, at the moment of saying goodbye and hearing the fateful phrase “we will let you know”, many candidates would like to ask the recruiters their impressions of the progress of the meeting. You could find yourself in a difficult situation. In general, there is no definitive rule: it is certainly advisable not to ask, at the end of the interview, “how did it go?”. It seems not very discreet and then very often recruiters need to focus on the situation by taking a few days of reflection.
What to do when feedback from a job interview is late in coming? What are the waiting times?
These are some of the questions candidates ask themselves when feedback is slow in coming. Unfortunately, companies often continue through the selection process without sending feedback to candidates. This situation is unfortunate and a negative point for the company you are applying for because feedback should be a right of all candidates, a symbol of professionalism. If the answer does not come, let a week pass (unless you have been instructed otherwise) and then send an email to the recruiter asking if there is any news regarding the selection process.