career

'Be prompt and be prepared.' This is exactly how to ace your next job interview.

Preparing for a job interview brings up a whole bunch of emotions. Mostly, nerves. 

What should I wear? What should I bring? What should I say? There are so many questions about how to best approach a job interview, that most of the time we don’t have the correct answer to.

Watch this video to understand the real meaning of common job interview questions. Post continues below.

Video by Mamamia

Then we generally go with our gut, wing it and hope for the best.

But enough of that.

We have spoken with Mamamia’s Talent Acquisition Specialist, Deborah Francis, to determine the best possible approach to ace a job interview and she has provided us with all the answers.

So take a deep breath and follow these simple steps below.

How to prepare

Preparing for a job interview is important. Very important.

The more prepared you are ahead of time, the more relaxed and comfortable you will be on the day. And that, in turn, will allow your personality to shine through.

Firstly, always do your research.

It is imperative that you know the background of the business, how they work and why they do what they do. Because, without fail, they will ask you.

“Research the company. You are always going to get asked questions like, ‘What do you know about us? Have you heard about us?’ Here at Mamamia we always ask that question and it’s very obvious when you haven’t done your research,” Deborah says.

Also, by understanding what the company is and how they work, you will have a clear understanding of the company culture that you will potentially become apart of.

Next, you need to prepare a list of questions and responses.

Interviewers will ask a range of open-ended questions to get an insight into your personality and whether you would be a good fit for the company and the position. This is your chance to show why you are the best candidate for the role.

You need to consider what questions they might ask and make sure you know how you best want to respond. Again, preparation is key.

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Think about some of these commonly asked questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you handle failure?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Describe your work style.
  • What are you passionate about?

Once you have organised your responses, practice them. You might feel like you’re back in school reciting a speech and feel a bit silly, but practice really does make perfect.

The better you know your responses, the more confident and natural they will come across when you say them during the interview.

What to wear

Choosing your outfit for the job interview is an important step. First impressions are crucial and sadly, that includes what you are wearing.

“I always recommend being professional. Don’t be afraid to overdress or dress corporate, even for a casual role. It shows you care,” says Deborah.

Some easy tips to follow when choosing what to wear are to keep it simple, keep it you and keep accessories to a minimum. You want to come across polished, but not like you’ve spent all your time putting your outfit together.

We suggest a simple shirt and pants or skirt for women, and a simple shirt, pants and suit jacket for men.

Lastly, Deborah’s final piece of advice is what not to do. “Don’t turn up wearing a t-shirt and thongs. It’s not a good look,” she says.

For a more in-depth outline of what to wear, read this article here.

What to bring

There are three things you should always bring to a job interview: a printout or electronic copy of your resume, a notepad and pen.

In the notepad, have the questions you want to ask written down. Sometimes you forget things, so having them there and ready is always helpful. And use the notepad to take notes. It’s always good to jot down things they ask you or say of importance, especially for future interviews.

Deborah also mentions, “If your questions have already been covered, make sure to mention that you were going to ask about that. It shows you are prepared.”

How to handle the day of the meeting

Be prompt. Make sure you are at least 10 minutes early, so you have time to mentally prepare. It might seem like a no-brainer to be early for an important event like this, but it’s easy to get flustered and lose track of time.

If you’re too early you can easily check your email or socials to pass the time. There is nothing worse than being late and stressed, especially before an interview for what could be your new job.

Let the interviewer know you have arrived five minutes before your interview time, so they know you are punctual.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. In this episode, Mia, Jessie and Holly discuss how to get the job you want. Post continues below.

What questions to ask

Although job interviews are for you to impress the hiring staff, it is also an important moment for you to assess whether the role and workplace is the right fit for you. Prepare a list of questions you want to know about both, ahead of time.

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Deborah suggests four things you should always ask about: the culture, the programs the business uses, what success looks like for them and what a day in the role looks like.

“It depends if it is a first-round interview or a second-round interview. The first-round interview is where I would ask about the company culture, technical capabilities for the role and what expectations they have. Ask what success looks like in three, six, nine months and a year. Another good question to ask is, ‘What does a day in the life of the role look like?’

“In the second-round interview, your questions should build upon those asked during the first round,” she says.

And lastly, mention holidays as soon as possible. If you have any travel booked in, make the interviewer aware of that in the first interview.

While these are great things you should ask, there are always questions that should be avoided. And to make it easier for you, we have listed them below.

  • Avoid asking about money in the first-round interview. You want them to know that you are interested in working there, and asking about money too early can come across the wrong way.
  • Don’t ask about Friday night drinks.
  • Don’t ask about when you can go on holiday, especially, not in the first round.
  • You don’t need to mention if you have children or if you are married.
  • Be careful about how you ask about progression plans. It’s great to ask about progression and development, but it’s best to save that for the second-round interview.

How to respond to, “What are your weaknesses?”

A common question asked by the interviewer will be, “What are your weaknesses?” It is best to have a response to this question prepared, as it can tend to catch some people off-guard.

“Don’t just give the generic, ‘I’m a workaholic. I care too much.’ Actually, think about the feedback you’ve been given by a previous manager, and say it. Then, give an example of how you’ve improved things,

“I don’t want to hear about any workplace arguments and always keep your weaknesses professional, nothing personal,” Deborah says.

When and how to follow up

After the interview is over make sure to stay in contact with the interviewers. Send a follow-up email that day, say thank you and express your interest in the role. It is important to make it clear that you still want the role.

However, if you go through the interview process and decide the job or the workplace isn’t for you, again, follow up and make that clear that you are no longer interested in the position.

After you’ve done that, it’s now time to wait. Deborah suggests to wait a week before checking in, however, it depends on which round of interviews you are in, especially if it’s the final round.

Final round interviews tend to be when decisions are made, usually very quickly. So once making it to that step, check-in with the interviewers within two days after the interview.

“But you can ask about that in the interview. Ask when you think you’ll hear back and be guided by what they say.  For example, if they say they’ll talk to you on Friday, follow up on Monday,” Deborah says.

A best practice is to be guided by how you’ve been communicated with. Follow their lead.

Be confident and more than anything, be yourself. Good luck! You’ve got this.

Looking to change jobs? Find more expert advice in our ultimate guide to getting the job of your dreams:

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