Interview Tips

Finding your dream job may not be difficult, however successfully passing the interview process to get the job may. Indeed, if you have applied to a job, there are high chances that 20 to 30 other people, with similar background and experience to yours, have done it too.

So can you actually stand out from all other candidates and increase your chances to get the job?

Yes you can. Interviewing is a process that has its one codes and standards. We have combined here below, several tips that should help you improving and match Employers’ criteria.

Styles of interviews

There are several ways to conduct a job interview. All require an interviewer (potential Employer) and an interviewee (you) but the interview setup and the questions asked can vary between the types.

  • Face to face interview. You have been invited by the company you applied to, to attend a meeting (most likely in their premises although it could be at a more informal place: restaurant or café for instance). Please go to the next section “Do’s and Dont’s” to read more on this interview type.
  • Panel interview. In this case, you will be interviewed by a group of interviewers, who will take notes and chat during the meeting. This method of interviewing can be very stressful for the candidate, however they are some tricks to go through it:
    • Bring a notepad. You will be given several useful information that you should write down and re-use as questions/for other interviewer(s).
    • Know about the interviewers. During a panel interview, you should know who you are talking to (position, background) so that you can anticipate everyone’s questions (strategy, technical etc. inclined).
    • Engage conversation with all interviewers and make eye contact. It can be difficult to know whom to look at, so a good tactic is to start with the person who asked the question and then spread to the panel.
    • Keep calm. Employers conduct these type of interviews when they identified a potential candidate. It is time consuming for several of their staff and shows they value your profile.
  • Phone interview, are as important as face to face meetings. They are growing in popularity, that’s why it is crucial to know how to handle them.
    • It is good to schedule a phone call with a potential Employer, so that the conditions are favourable (no noisy background or poor signal).
    • You must prepare a phone interview as well (please see Do’s and Dont’s section below).
  • Video-conference. High-tech innovation led to this new way of interviewing, that are also becoming more and more popular.
    • Be in a professional environment (quiet and clean, professional looking background).
    • Dress professionally, from head to toe.
    • Keep looking at the camera, to establish eye contact with the interviewer.

Interview preparation

Remember that an interview must always be prepared.

  • Know the company. Find out information about their organization: history, current situation, plans/rumours for development? You can use sources such as: the internet (trustable websites), news, annual reports, some of your contacts working there etc…
  • Know the position. When being in a job hunting phase, you might be attending a few interviews in different companies. Although everyone understands, make sure you get all available information on the role before you go for an interview (duties, environment, and report structure). It wouldn’t reflect good on you if you ask the Employer to repeat again what is written on the job description.
  • Know yourself. Know your strength and weaknesses for the position you apply to, know your motivations to get the job, be prepared to cite specific examples of previous achievements, focus on your most recent experiences, are any of your skills transferable to the company, why are you the most qualified candidate?

During the interview: Do’s and Dont’s

Do’s:

  • Know the location of the meeting and plan your route. This can be done easily by using Google Maps.
  • Dress to impress. The first impression is always extremely important (look, behaviour), you will be judged on your appearance. We recommend you a conservative outfit: dark suit with white shirt and tie for gentlemen and business suit with minimal jewellery.
  • Bring a hard copy of your resume (a few copies if you are attending a panel interview), plus other documents if required (certificates, qualifications, copy of your Identity Card…).
  • Bring a notepad and a pen, take notes.
  • Arrive early at the interview. We recommend you to reach the place 15mn in advance (in case of traffic jam) and always greet the receptionist.
  • Turn your mobile phone off (not silence, not plane mode).
  • Knock before you enter the interviewer room.
  • Adopt a professional body language.
  • Wait for the interviewer to reach out for a handshake and do not sit until he does.
  • Be polite, enthusiastic and smile throughout the who process.
  • Organize and structure your answers, to reply a question clearly and straight to the point.
  • Answer questions honestly.
  • Ask specific questions about the role, company, team members and career growth opportunities.
  • Ask for clarifications when you do not understand a question.

Dont’s:

  • Be late.
  • Bring anyone else with you to the interview (family member for instance).
  • Lie to any questions.
  • Bring up controversial subjects (i.e. politics, religion etc…).
  • Talk about the compensation package unless the interviewer brings it on the table.
  • Mumble, overreact, adopt any inappropriate attitude or behaviour.
  • Look nervous or scared.
  • Criticize any of your current/previous employers.
  • Look desperate and ready to take any job offer.
  • Mention any personal or family problems.
  • Ask personal questions to the interviewer(s).
  • Say you don’t have questions.
  • Call back the company on the same day after the interview is done, to know if you passed.

Sample questions that interviewer might ask

The interview is the opportunity for both sides to know each other better and understand each side expectations. Therefore, you should expect a number of questions from the interviewer. We have listed below a few of them so that you can exercise how to reply them.

  • What are your short-term objectives? Long-term objectives?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What do you know about our company’s activities and the job we offer?
  • Why do you want his job?
  • What are the reasons why you are leaving your current job?
  • What is an ideal work environment for you?
  • List your motivations to move by order of importance: career growth, employer’s brand, location, compensation package
  • What can you bring our company that someone else can’t?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How do you manage to work under pressure and tight deadlines?
  • How are you best managed?
  • What is your management style and how has it changed over the years?
  • What are your three main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your three main accomplishments in your current/past job?
  • How long would it take for you to perform in our company?
  • How long would you stay with us?
  • If you could start again, what would you do differently?
  • Where else are you being interviewed?
  • How would your first day at work be if you join us? Please describe.
  • How would your three first months be?
  • What are the most important rewards you are looking for
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine? (yes, you might be asked)
  • Do you have any questions?

These are some of the most common questions asked during an interview. We recommend you to answer honestly and clearly to facilitate the information exchange process.

Sample questions to ask the interviewer

After the interviewer is done asking questions, comes your turn. At this point of time, you must ask questions too, otherwise the company could misinterpret your silence (not digging enough for information, not so interested in the company or job).

Here are some information you might want to get.

  • Why is the role open?
  • What are the career growth opportunities for this role?
  • How big is the team and where does it stand in the company organizational chart?
  • What qualities are you expecting in a candidate who wants to join your company?
  • How is it like to work in your company?
  • How is the culture, work environment?
  • How does your company growth plan look like in the coming years?
  • How do you see me fitting the job requirements and company culture?
  • Will I been given the chance to meet the team members to help my decision?
  • How do I compare with other applicants?
  • Any other question you would like the employer to answer, regarding to the job or the company

The end of the meeting is approaching and you should now have a fair idea of what is the role about and what the company can provide.

How to close an interview

First thing to do – thank all of the interviewers for their time. You could confirm your interest in the role and the company and ask what the next steps of the process are (next round of interview for instance. In case the employer agrees, don’t forget to ask who will conduct the net meeting).

In case the meeting didn’t cover all the subjects you wanted to, let the interviewer know and suggest a second meeting. Indeed, interviews are usually scheduled for a precise time slot and meetings don’t always fit.

If they intend to walk you back, wait for them to stand up first and follow their steps.

Don’t assume that the interview is over just because you have left the building, for instance don’t light up a cigarette or take off your tie as soon as you get out of the door.

It is good following-up with a “thank you” email to the interviewer, within 24 hours after the interview ended. Copy the Human Resources in the email, so that they are aware of your application progress.

How to handle remuneration

The remuneration part of the process can be sensitive and often requires negotiations before reaching a figure that is agreeable to both the company and the candidate.

We advise you starting talking about salary only after the employer has mentioned it first. In several cultures, it could be considered rude if the candidate starts talking about it first. Employers tend to stand away from candidates whose first motivation to join them is a higher salary.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Most companies will aim to make a fair offer, putting together both your current package and a market rate benchmark to reach a reasonable but attractive figure to you
  • Compensation packages are related to: companies, jobs, market condition, time and location. Therefore, avoid comparing what you get offered today with what was offered to your ex-colleague 6 months ago in another country
  • Be clear on your expectations. No one likes bad surprises
  • Be realistic and flexible. The work market is more and more competitive every day and you are not the only talented job seeker around. Companies hardly pay 20% increment as they used to in the past

How to resign with grace

Congratulations! You got the job, competing against several other candidates who registered their interest in the same position.

If you are employed right now, you will have to resign from your current duties. It could be a difficult process for people who stayed in their present company for years, so we have combined some tips to help you with it.
Keep it clear, honest, and make it easy for your current employer. It is ok to leave the company and seek better prospects however make sure you do it professionally.

  1. Don’t quit your current position until you have finalized the details with your next employer (signing an employment contract for instance or in case you work overseas, getting your visa approved)
  2. Write a professional resignation letter (2 copies). We recommend it to include: the position you resign from, date of effect, plan when your last day at the company will be (depends on your notice period) and thank your employer for the opportunity given in the company. It is not compulsory to mention the reason why you are leaving. If you have found a better job (more responsibilities or geographic exposure), it is ok to say so
  3. Book a meeting with your direct supervisor and hand him your letter, explaining clearly the reasons of your choice. Ask him to acknowledge it by signing both copies. Give him one and keep the other one for you.
  4. Do not show interest in a counter-offer if your intention is to leave. Be firm.
  5. Work on your handover. It is crucial to do a clean handover. Again, it is ok to leave but help the company minimize the impact of your departure on the business, by re-assigning your work to other team members. It has to be achieved by your last day at work
  6. Propose to help recruiting your replacement (assisting the candidate interviews and selection) and train your successor so that he can be up to speed quickly
  7. Keep it confidential. Don’t spread the news around the office
  8. Reach an agreement with your boss on how others will be told (at the end of a team meeting for instance, a few days before your departure)
  9. Have an exit interview with the HR department – and provide insights on your experience and advices on what can be improved and how to do it
  10. Say goodbye properly to everybody and propose to keep in touch
  11. Stay an ambassador of the brand even after you are gone. Do not mention anything bad about your previous employers

In a nutshell, be fair to your employer. Remember he might be the one giving you references later on or be in a position to hire you again.

The last thing you want is to burn bridges.