Job Interview Tips: A Step-By-Step Guide for Acing Job Interviews in 2020

03/13/20 12:28 PM Comment(s) By Anuj Sharma

Job Interview Guide 2020

Most people find job interviews - essentially the idea of selling themselves to a stranger - to be unnatural, stressful and a hard prospect to face.

Regardless, job interviews are something that most of us have to go through several times in our lives. The stakes can be high so it's only natural to feel a little bit nervous in an interview situation.

That's why we've compiled the ultimate guide to acing job interviews, including some little known job interview tips to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

Preparing for a job interview

The first thing you should do is research the company and your job role. This will provide useful information and highlight questions you may wish to ask after the interview.

While doing the research, think about why you have applied for the job, what it is that you are interested in and what you think may be challenging about the job. These may be questions that you will be asked in the interview.

Ultimately, you want to think about what you have to offer to the company you are applying to. Nowadays, many jobs are open to applicants coming from all sorts of backgrounds. While that is a great opportunity, you may also find it difficult to articulate why your background is relevant to this particular job.

For example, when thinking about working in cybersecurity, degrees in computer science, maths or another IT-related field might seem most obvious. However, having studied cognitive science, neuroscience or psychology may prepare you just as well for a graduate scheme or job in this particular field.

The main thing to remember about a job interview is that you're there to sell yourself, your transferable skills, your attitude and your past experiences. What is it you have learned in your degree that is transferable to cybersecurity?

Many programs will teach you how to build an argument, how to apply research and knowledge, how to communicate complex ideas and how to test hypotheses.

The main point here is that your applicable skill set might not seem obvious at first. However, you will know why you applied to the job in the first place. Something made you think that you had a chance, so convey why you really do have the skills to work for this employer.

How to answer job interview questions
One of the most common questions we get is about job interview questions.

One of the first questions you may be asked could relate to your CV and cover letter. Make sure you look at these documents as well as any references you may have sent before the interview to prepare for potential questions.

What past experiences are relevant to the job and what have you learned from seemingly irrelevant experiences that are applicable to the role?

Online, you will find endless lists of questions that are regularly asked at job interviews - feel free to check out the references at the end of this post to guide you through some of them in a bit more detail.

Essentially, when answering questions, think about what impression you want to leave the interviewer with. Show that you are creative in your thinking, that you have problem-solving abilities and that you remain honest and well-grounded.

When asked questions that have a negative twist, try answering them in a positive way by, for example, illustrating how you have overcome a challenge.

When the questions asked are abstract, relate them back to your experiences and skills.

In the end, the interviewer wants to get to know you as a person and what you have to offer to the company.

Practising these questions with a friend will be extremely useful. Saying things out loud in a practice interview will give you a sense of what your answers actually sound like.

If you feel uncomfortable with what you are saying because you are trying hard to impress, chances are that the interviewer will feel the same way. Ask your friend or colleague to give you feedback and go through sample questions so that you are prepared for the topics that may come up.

Another great tip on how to ace your job interview is to practice answering questions in front of a mirror. This way, you can easily check your delivery and body language.

The top 4 interview questions of 2020
On top of practising in advance, you want to make sure you that you are indeed answering what you have been asked. If you are not sure you understood the question, it is okay to ask for clarification. It will demonstrate that you are actively engaging with the conversation, and will look much better than simply answering the wrong question.

When answering job interview questions, it's important to remember that the way you say things and your body language is just as important as the content of your answers.

First, we'll break down common job interview questions before going on to more tips that should help you out.

1) Tell me about yourself.

A classic question that shouldn't be surprising. Interviewers ask this question because they are looking to see that your attitude is consistent with their company culture. Don't just say you're good at something, but back it up with specific evidence.

good example answer to this job interview question is: "I'm always striving to learn more. For example, I recently enrolled in an Open University course in communications where I learnt the basics of communication in digital marketing. I also thrive from helping others. I often volunteer for charities, and I hosted an event for Oxfam where we raised £2000 last month."

By backing up each claim you make with a specific example, you let the interviewer know that you're not just telling them what they want to hear. Pick traits about yourself that will make you attractive to the employer. In the case above, the person answering the question has demonstrated that they have an attitude of being helpful, organised and wanting to learn more - three traits that are irresistible to most employers.

2) Why should we hire you?

Interviewers are not just looking at why your past experience would make you valuable in this role, but that your personality and attitude is already consistent with the company culture. Again, never make claims about your skills or personality that you can't back up with specific examples.

good example answer to this would be: "I'd say because of my attitude. I constantly strive to develop my personal and professional skills. For example, I have recently completed an open university course in communication. I'm easily adaptable, as shown in my prior role where I had to quickly learn lots of new things and develop successful strategies that drove the development of the business. I'm highly organised and attentive, I have come up with my own method of tracking open projects. I believe in working hard, but this has to be balanced with playing hard, which is something I believe your company gets right. I've also performed well in similar roles in the past, for example, in my previous role I increased traffic to our site by 50% in 3 months."

This answer is good as it focuses on why your attitude is compliant with the attitude of the business, which is crucial to impressing interviewers. If they can't imagine you working side-by-side with the existing team, you have no chance. It's also important to talk about previous experience, backing it up with specific examples of success stories.

3) What is your greatest strength?

The biggest mistake you can make here is hesitating before you answer. The whole purpose of an interview is to sell yourself to the employer. If you aren't absolutely sure where your strengths are, you look unprepared. When choosing a strength, always back it up with specific examples of how that has helped your previous employers, or if your experience in the workplace is lacking, how you have demonstrated this strength in other areas of your life.

For example, a good answer to this question would be: "I'm very quick to adapt and can learn extremely quickly. In my previous role, despite having no digital marketing experience, I had to take on the mantle of the content manager. I taught myself basic HTML and SEO within a couple of days and performed a full site audit. As a result of my on-page optimisation, traffic increased to our site by 50% in three months. I also had to research, plan and execute an influencer campaign, successfully negotiating posts from over 50 social media influencers with a combined reach of over 3 million people, resulting in several thousand pounds of affiliate revenue."

By a) saying something that relates to the role you are applying to, and b) backing up each point with specific examples and data, you show your potential employer that you are prepared and organised. This puts you above the people who come in with general responses.

4) What's your greatest weakness?

Don't say that you're a perfectionist. It's too cliche. Instead, be honest about yourself, but always talk about the steps that you've taken to address the issue. Employers don't want someone who is obviously lying to their faces, but someone who is realistic about their own abilities and skills and someone who cares enough about themselves to address the issue head-on.

For example, you may want to say, "I tend to rush head-on into things, as I can get very passionate and excited about projects I'm working on. However, it's something I've been working on in my previous role and I've come up with a system to help me break down each step of a project and to remind me to double-check all of my work before moving onto the next step. It has taught me it's ok to take a step back and not get tunnel vision on the task I'm working on."

By addressing a real weakness, and discussing the steps that you took to overcome it, you show that you are honest about yourself, know yourself, and most importantly, take steps to overcome these weaknesses. Employers know that you're not going to be perfect and are going to have weaknesses - at the end of the day, we're all human. If you say something like, "I'm a perfectionist," you come across as unprepared and disingenuous.

Non-verbal communication tips for job interviews
Non-verbal communication is a major part of how you as an interviewee are perceived.

The below video highlights how you can adapt your body language to get the best out of your next job interview. We will summarize the main points highlighted in the video below.

1. Adopt an engaged posture (lean in towards the interviewer).
2. Appear calm and relaxed.
3. Use appropriate hand gestures (not too much movement, this is distracting).
4. Mirror the interviewer.
5. Get your eye contact right (not too much, not too little).
6. Avoid lying signals (touching your nose or face, glancing off to the side).
7. Give the perfect handshake (firm, dry hands. If you are prone to sweaty palms, you should wipe your hands on your trousers or other fabric).

Bonus tip: smile! The power of the smile is undervalued. Show the interviewer that you are happy to be there.

While some of these tips may seem obvious, having practised these simple forms of interaction in a practice interview will make you feel more secure.

If you are sitting in an interview wondering what to do with your hands, where to look at and how to greet the interviewer, you are losing focus on answering the questions or asking your own questions. Having ritualized some of the tips above will allow you to perform better.

Preparing for a phone interview
A phone interview may feel unnatural or awkward at first, however, it may also be a great opportunity.

To make sure you are experiencing the best conditions for your phone interview, ensure you have a good connection and that you won’t be disturbed. Practice the interview with a friend and get a feeling for what silences may feel like.

While not seeing the interviewer won’t allow you to pick up on non-verbal cues, you may find it easier to focus on the content of what you are saying. Indeed, you will have the chance to note down points you would like to make or ask about.

When speaking on the phone you want to avoid reading off a list, however, writing down some key terms will provide you with enough of a memory cue to mention what you have prepared.

The best tip we can give you for phone interviews is to smile the whole way through it.

It might seem strange but try it right now. Say something out loud with your normal expression, and then say the same thing whilst smiling.

You should be able to notice the difference in tone and style - even if you can't pick up on the difference, the person on the other end of the phone definitely will.

You will come across more confident, friendly and calm, giving you an advantage over others applying for the same job.

Other tips
When it comes to the interview day, you want to make sure that you have been prepared in advance. Things that may add further stress to you on the day should be avoided.

Plan what you will wear and how you will get to the interview in the days before the interview. If you have time, make a test trip to the interview location a day before, to ensure you know the route and can get there on time.

The outfit you choose is important for any job interview.

Wear something that is appropriate for the interview. You may have been given a dress code. If you haven't been given a dress code, always opt for smart business attire (suit, tie and shoes for men and a jacket, blouse and knee-length skirt or trousers for women).

Also, plan what you will bring to the interview. You may have been asked to bring a birth certificate, national insurance number or another documentation.

Always bring a notepad, a pen and a list of questions you want to ask.

Also, bring a copy of your CV, the job listing, and any other supporting information for your application. This will help you look organized, attentive and driven. Make sure that whatever documents you need to bring are in a neat folder and in a presentable condition.

And lastly, remember that an interview is a chance for both sides to get to know each other. Don’t feel like this is only about the interviewer assessing you.

Observe if you feel like this job is right for you and afterwards think about what went well and whether you would like to proceed to the next step of the application process.

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