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Interviewing soon? Knock their socks off

Waiting for interview.resize

“What did you have for supper last night?” “What would you charge to mow all the lawns in your neighbourhood, or wash all the dishes at restaurants in Sandton?” “Explain this function of the business to my eight-year old son.” The interview process is changing, and you need to adapt.

Interviewers turn to these questions to determine if you’ll fit in at the company, establish how quick you think on your feet, or to see if you understand the business; and, more importantly, will you be able to translate industry lingo into English when speaking to clients.

In most cases there is no glaringly wrong answer to these questions, so long as you explain your reasoning behind what you have to said. Your interviewer will have to consider your views and opinions.

Do your homeworkStudying the company

Probably the most important factor in effective job interviewing is doing enough research into the company prior to your interview. You cannot, and should not, assume that you will learn about the company once you start the job or will be able to find out more at the interview. You will just look unprepared if you ask a question that you could have answered for yourself by simply performing a Google search on the company.

When doing research on the company study things such as what sets them apart from their competitors, the mission and vision of the company, and recent big projects that have been completed. You will do well to consider how your skills set and the role you are interviewing for will fit into the company and projects it takes pride in.

Taking this approach serves a dual purpose; you will come across as being knowledgeable and excited about the company and position you are interviewing  for, as well as cultivate the idea of your fitting in with the company. If you place yourself in the role in their minds there is really just some paperwork left before you are in the role.

Make a lasting first impressionBusiness man in nice suit

You need to look confident to feel confident. It helps to do some research online about the company’s dress code. Easier yet, just take the general approach of avoiding anything too tight, low, short, or flashy. Make sure you are groomed perfectly and ensure that your car and any bags or files you may be carrying with you is clean and in good shape.

Whether you are using your own car or public transport to get to the interview it is best to do a test-run a day or two before the interview. You won’t get lost on the day and you will know exactly how much time you need to get to your appointment. The greatest benefit of this is that you will avoid looking frazzled on the day.

Being on time is a non-negotiable; don’t let your future boss wait for you. Once you get to the interview be polite to everyone you encounter. Smile and look engaged, never take a call during the interview process, not even while you are waiting!

When you are called in, make sure that your phone is packed away (that it is turned to silence is a given) and shake the hand of your interviewer firmly. If you are being interviewed by a panel repeating each person’s name as they introduce themselves will help you remember names. If you are unsure of pronunciation consider asking for help at reception before the interview.

Exude confidenceCelebrating confidence

You need to avoid any habits or nervous ticks that could make you seem nervous. Squeezing the armrest, swinging your foot or playing with your fingers will distract the interviewer and demonstrate what you are really feeling. Also check your posture, you want to avoid looking unsure of yourself or overly aggressive. Your best bet is to keep both your feet on the ground, your hands in your lap and your shoulders back. Sitting up straight will also make your voice clear while you look confidant.

Your display of confidence needs to reach beyond body language though. You need to speak confidently too: Avoid speech fillers such as “like” or “um”. Many people have a verbal crutch – a word or phrase they repeat multiple times. Picking up and correcting this habit before your next interview will benefit you over the long-term too.

Cross the t’s and dot the i’sShaking hands

The last few minutes of your interview will determine how you leave the interviewer feeling. Express your excitement about joining the company and surety that you fit perfectly. Ask when you can expect to know the results of the interview. You are entitled to know this and it will assist you in following up at the right time. If this date passes without you hearing anything give it two days and then phone to follow up. You want to look eager but avoid seeming pushy.

You should send a follow-up note as soon as possible after the interview, thanking the interviewer for his or her time – it will ensure that you are fresh in the interviewer’s mind after the day of interviews and displays a higher level of professionalism than other interviewees may have shown.

Preparation before, and honesty on the day of the interview is your first ammunition in making a great and lasting impression. Remember that this process is as much for you as it is for the potential employer. You need to showcase your true self and find out as much as you can about the company – there are few things worse than working at a company where your culture and personality simply do not gel.


Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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