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How to Ace Your Next Job Interview

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Guest post: Ifi Ekong

Preparing for a job interview? Follow these tips to make sure you’re ready to make the best possible first impression. In general, it’s important to bear in mind that employers are looking for new recruits who really want to work for them. After all, new employees who are enthusiastic about the company and the role are likely to work harder, be more productive and ultimately stay longer. So how can you make sure you communicate your commitment and potential?

1.  Check your online presence

First of all, remember that interviewers often conduct online searches on individuals before deciding whether to offer them a job interview. Think about what your current online presence shows, and whether this is likely to make a good first impression on a potential employer. Evidence of involvement in business networks and community projects or examples of success at work or college is positive. Anything negative – including comments about other individuals or organizations – is risky.

Research conducted by ExecuNet showed that 77% of recruiters said they used search engines to find background data on candidates. Additionally, 35% admitted they had eliminated a candidate because of what they found online. The same survey revealed that although 82% of candidates expected recruiters to check out their names on a search engine, only 33% had searched for information on themselves, to see what their prospective employer might find out. Be proactive!

2.  Research the company and the role

In addition to reading and re-reading the job specification, should also research the company more widely. Look into future expansions, the company mission and key objectives, and training and development opportunities, amongst anything else you can find out. Look for news articles about the company – what recent successes and challenges has it faced? Has there been anything significant in the press about the industries the organization works in? Search to see whether the company has published any recent reports, press releases or videos, and what information you can glean. Sites like Glass Door and The Job Crowd also provide great insights into a company’s culture.

3.  Make the best first impression you can

Never underestimate the importance of making a favorable first impression. Research shows that interviewers are swayed by how people dress, act and walk through the door – and that many hiring managers make a decision within the first 90 seconds of meeting you (though they may not realize it themselves). Employers are essential trying to imagine how potential recruits will fit in with current work situations. Would they be the right person to meet a client or work in a particular team? Of course, choosing clothes you feel confident and comfortable in can help, but having done your research may be just as key. The more you understand about the culture of the organization before you arrive for the job interview, the more you can demonstrate how you would best fit in.

4.  Practice answering common job interview questions

One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is to do a “mock”. You can ask a friend to stand in as the interviewer, or practice on your own. Compile a list of common job interview questions, and ask around (on- and offline) to get a more specific idea of the kind of questions this type of job interview is likely to entail. Practice running through your answers, and consider recording yourself with your phone or a web-cam so you can watch/listen back and identify weak points. While there are plenty of common job interview questions you can expect, there will always be some questions you hadn’t prepared for – so be ready to give yourself time to think and make a considered response.

Ifi Ekong works to help internationally mobile students and recent graduates stand out to employers, with a particular focus on graduates of MBAs and other business master’s degrees. She heads up operations and business school relationships at leading online jobs and careers platform QS Global Workplace, driving the expansion of an actively global network of professionals looking to progress their careers. She is a trained biochemist, with extensive experience in online recruitment solutions.   

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