So you’ve cracked one of HackerTrail’s coding challenges and the employer’s keen on meeting you “for a chat”. What now?
We all know “a chat” is never just a chat, so before you even start dreaming about what your office desk is gonna look like, you’ve got to clear the obvious hurdle ahead of you: the interview. Luckily for you, we’re here to help.
1. Verbal and Body Language
It’s all about confidence. Speak firmly, pausing between sentences if you need to collect your thoughts. Remember: this isn’t a game show; it’s not about how many words you can cram into a minute.
Using words like “firstly”, “secondly” etc. to front your points will help sort your thinking and keep you from rambling on and on. It also buys you some time, which is always a plus.
“Firstly… I feel that my years of background in this field gives me an advantage.
Secondly… I have handled tasks of a similar profile such as organizing the Academy Awards in 2014.”
Even when you’re not speaking, your body language may be broadcasting your thoughts and attitudes for everyone to see. The goal here is to project a sense of being relaxed but confident. Just compare the four seated postures below.
Dress to impress! Dressing up for a formal interview conveys the message that you can and do look good when you should. The degree of formal wear that is appropriate may vary according to the position you’re interviewing for, but the most basic rules of a shirt and slacks/jeans for the guys and a modest blouse + skirt combo for the girls still apply, even for “informal interviews” held at a Starbucks.
Do take note though: it’s always safer to ask around before the day of the interview. Different companies have different policies.
3. What To Avoid
It should be common sense that profanities are big no-no in interviews; also unwelcome are threatening and aggressive patterns of speech. When asking questions or clarifying certain details, avoid brusque single-word replies such as “Where?”. Instead, phrase your query in a gentler manner, such as “Where should I submit that document?”
You should never criticize your previous employer(s). The interviewer might be baiting you to reveal your displeasure for another workplace, but in many cases this is a test to see if you would do the same to the job in question at your next interview.
Always be nice. Remember: in those 30 minutes or less you are presenting yourself as the most skilled, enthusiastic, and angelic worker in the whole world.
4. What To Say
Imagine you’re purchasing a pre-owned car. Being told about the many places it has travelled to is great, but it doesn’t answer your most pressing question: does it still work?
Similarly, do bring up some of your personal, academic, and career-related successes, but remember that it’s not about what you’ve done but what you can do for the company that’s the most important thing here.
Before the interview, you should also prepare yourself for questions that you think you might be presented with. If you’re applying to be a programmer, for example, you might be asked to briefly describe how you would overcome certain specific coding challenges.
You can find out more about how to prepare for an interview at a start-up in our other post here.
5. What To Bring
In addition to a simple pen, do bring along a hard copy of your résumé or portfolio, which includes certificates or material that you think are of interest to the interviewer. If you’re a chronic worrywart (a good thing sometimes), you may choose to prepare a photocopied set of every document, collated separately.
For job interviewees in the tropics (e.g. Singapore), a small handkerchief or a pack of tissues will come in handy. You never know what the weather would be like outdoors, and you certainly don’t want to appear red-faced and sweating in front of your potential superiors.
We leave you with this quote from former American journalist Jim Lehrer:
“There’s only one interview technique that matters… Do your homework so you can listen to the answers and react to them and ask follow-ups. Do your homework, prepare.”
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