You've made it through the first round. Your application caught someone's eye, and now, the next step awaits you: The interview!
1. Be prepared
It's crucial that you do your homework before going to the actual interview. This will enable you to provide appropriate answers and ask relevant questions at the interview. Remember that the people who will be hiring you have prepared themselves, too.
As soon as you accept an interview, ask who will be present (if you can't get names, ask about job titles). That way, you can get an idea of how many people will be there and who they are. You can use LinkedIn, for example, to see what each person's professional background is. Also look into whether there will be any tests or cases for you to solve as part of the interview, so these don't come as a surprise. If the job is in the private sector, also be prepared to indicate what kind of pay rate you require. You can use DM's pay checker to get an idea of the pay you can expect, or you can contact us for guidance.
2. Be clear about who they are
It's a good idea to stay up to date with anything new that's going on at the company or in the industry since you sent in your application. It might be relevant for you to talk about during your interview. For example, the company might have landed a new order, ended up in a media storm, or affected by a new law that will influence the work you'll be performing. Use Google, check the business's website and LinkedIn profile, or talk to someone you know who works at the company.
3. Be clear about who you are
Read over your cover letter and CV again before the interview, so you can be certain of what you've already told your potential employer about yourself. You will probably be asked to introduce yourself. For that reason, it's a good idea to prepare a short professional presentation of yourself. Consider the professional "you" and create an image of how you work, how you work with others, and (e.g.) how you work under pressure. Try to transition from there into how you can use that at your new job. This shouldn't take up more than three minutes, so leave out unnecessary things like your name and age. They already know your name, and your age doesn't matter.
4. Have a strategy
Before the interview, think about which three of your skills you want your potential employer to remember you by. It's easier to remember three points than it is to remember ten. Use the job description as a starting point and consider the questions and topics you might be asked about. Then, prepare your answers.
Typical questions might include:
- What are your strengths?
- Do you have any weaknesses? What are they?
- Why would you like this particular job, and why here, specifically?
- What value can you create for us?
- If you get the job, what's the first thing you'll do here?
- If you know that you have some "sensitive" points that might come up in the interview, like a lack of experience in a certain area, understand that you don't necessarily have to have a solution to them already — but you should at least have an idea of how you'll respond to these challenges.
Having a practise interview with a friend is a good idea, so you won't be saying these things aloud for the first time at the real interview. This is especially true if it will be your first time at an interview. You can also practise your interview at DM if you would like professional feedback.
5. Control your nerves
It's normal to be nervous about an interview, and your interviewers know that. Sometimes, the people interviewing you will be nervous, too. After all, they're tasked with picking the right person for the open position. Also remember that the interview is just as much an opportunity for you to find out if the position and workplace are right for you. Both sides have to agree on the match.
Before going in, take a few deep breaths to relax your breathing, and think positively. The worst thing that can happen is that you don't get the job. You'll still gain experience and practice with interviews that you can use in the future.
6. When you go in
When you first enter the location of the interview, you might feel a bit awkward or tense. Grab the bull by its horns. Show some initiative, offer a handshake, and notice the participants' names and positions.
You can say yes if offered something to drink, but say no to pastries and other food. It's difficult to talk with food in your mouth, and you don't want to worry about getting food stuck in your teeth.
7. Keep a cool head
Remember to stay calm. Even if you've prepared, don't just mechanically fire off line after line. Listen to what's being said, and respond to it. It's totally fine to take a moment to think when answering questions. To make pauses more natural, try taking a sip of your drink. Also, remember to speak clearly and loudly enough. You can also take notes during the interview, such as to remember the most important points you want to use later in the interview. But be careful not to lose your focus on what's being said while you take notes — it would be better to not take notes at all.
During the interview, it's a good idea to base what you say around the needs of the business and show how you would fit into the position. Be specific when talking about past work and your results, and avoid talking negatively about places you worked previously.
Ask questions about the business that you prepared in advance, since these can help you determine whether the position is right for you. These questions might include: "What will be my primary task?", "When will this be considered complete?", or "What will it take for you to consider that I've performed this task well; what's important to you?"
8. When the interview is over
Now, you can relax. If you feel that it went well, enjoy the feeling. Evaluate what went well in your opinion and what didn't. If you don't get the job, it can be a good idea to contact them anyway. You might be able to learn something from the interview. Ask who did get the job, and what the most important thing for them was.Ask for feedback, and let them know that you're still interested if a new position should become available. You can also ask what you would have to do to be considered for the position if it became available again in one year.
You aren't required to answer questions about:
- whether you are healthy, liable to develop an illness in the future, or suffer from a hereditary disease.
- whether you took a lot of sick leave at a previous job.
- whether you or a partner are planning on having a child or adopting.
- your sexual orientation, political opinions, or religion.
- whether you are on a debtor registry — unless you will be entrusted with the company's funds.