What Should I Say in My Job Interview?

Introduction to Job Interviews

Job interviews can be daunting, but they are your gateway to new opportunities. Understanding their purpose is crucial. They are not just about evaluating your skills; they also assess your fit within the company culture. Making a strong first impression is critical as it sets the tone for the entire interview.

Understanding the Purpose of Job Interviews

Job interviews serve a dual purpose. They allow the employer to assess your qualifications and personality, and they give you a chance to evaluate the company and the role. It’s a two-way street where both parties seek to find the right match.

The Impact of First Impressions

First impressions in an interview are made within the first few seconds. Your appearance, punctuality, and initial interactions play a significant role in shaping the interviewer’s perception of you. Remember to smile when you walk in even if you feel nervous.

Addressing Contemporary Trends in Interviewing

In today’s rapidly evolving job market, staying abreast of the latest interviewing trends is crucial. Here are some key contemporary trends to consider:

  1. Virtual Interviews: With the rise of remote work, virtual interviews have become commonplace. Ensure you have a stable internet connection, a quiet environment, and a professional background. Practice using the video conferencing platform in advance and be aware of your body language, as it can be more difficult to convey enthusiasm and engagement through a screen.
  2. AI-Assisted Interviews: Some companies are now using AI technology for initial screening interviews. These can involve recording answers to set questions or interacting with an AI interviewer. When preparing for AI interviews, focus on clear and concise responses, as the AI may be analyzing your speech patterns and content. It will also be analysing your facial expressions and recording if you look worried or angry, try to look enthusiastic and smiley for the robot software.
  3. Increased Focus on Soft Skills: Employers are placing greater emphasis on soft skills like adaptability, communication, and emotional intelligence. Be prepared to demonstrate these skills through behavioral interview questions or scenarios.
  4. Diversity and Inclusion Questions: There is a growing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. You may encounter questions about how you work with diverse teams or contribute to an inclusive environment. Reflect on past experiences where you’ve demonstrated these values.
  5. Remote Work Competency: Given the shift towards remote work, be ready to discuss your ability to work independently, manage time effectively, and use digital communication tools. Highlighting previous remote work experiences can be beneficial.
  6. Increased Use of Social Media and Online Presence: Employers often review candidates’ online presence. Ensure your social media profiles are professional and reflect your personal brand appropriately.
  7. Scenario-Based and Problem-Solving Questions: Employers are increasingly using complex scenarios or real-world problems in interviews to assess problem-solving skills. Practice thinking critically and articulately about how you’d navigate complex work scenarios.
  8. Conversational Interviews: Some interviews are becoming more conversational to assess cultural fit. Be prepared for less structured interviews and focus on being authentic while professionally presenting your skills and experiences.

By being aware of and preparing for these contemporary trends, you can position yourself more effectively in the modern job market and increase your chances of making a strong impression in your next interview.

Preparing Your Answers

Effective preparation is key to acing your job interview. It involves understanding the company, the role, and how your skills and experiences make you the perfect candidate. If you have a good idea of what you are going to say in your job interview, your confidence will improve and it will be less likely you will get caught out by unexpected questions.

Researching the Company

Start by researching the company. Understand its mission, values, products, and recent achievements. This will not only help you tailor your responses but also show your genuine interest in the organization. Look at the type of language and phrases being used on the career section of the website, dig out videos of current employees explaining their roles if available. Are you able to emulate their level of formality or casualness? Is it a high fives and chest bumps sales place or very formal and reserved with everyone in a tie dealing with dignitaries. You wouldn’t want to take one of those behaviours into the other. These are extremes but the point is to learn the type of culture they have. If you know someone else who works there, ask them.

Analysing the Job Description

The job description is a goldmine of information. It tells you exactly what the company is looking for in a candidate. Align your skills and experiences with the requirements listed in the job description. If you’ve landed an interview you likely already loaded your CV with the same keywords in the job description to get past the ATS systems.

Crafting Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Identify what sets you apart from other candidates. This could be a unique skill, experience, or perspective you bring to the table. Your USP should be a compelling reason for the employer to choose you.

Common Interview Questions

Be prepared to answer a variety of questions, ranging from general to role-specific ones.

“Tell Me About Yourself”

This open-ended question is an opportunity to succinctly present your professional journey, focusing on experiences and achievements relevant to the role.

“Why Should We Hire You?”

Link your skills, experiences, and attributes directly to what the company needs, as outlined in the job description.

“Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

This question gauges your ambition and alignment with the company’s future. Discuss how the role aligns with your career aspirations.

“What Do You Consider as your Weakness?”

Don’t go with the, “Oh, I’m too much of a perfectionist” “I’m too honest” “I work too hard“. These sorts of responses will make the interviewer roll their eyes and groan, they want to see if you have humility. Saying “I’m not very good at foreign languages” or “My public speaking really needs more practice” will be received better.

(There is the classic joke of the “too honest” line as a weakness where the interviewer responds “oh I don’t see that as a weakness” to which the candidate replies, “I couldn’t care less what you think“. Ha.)

“Describe the toughest decision you have ever had to make at work and the outcome from making it.”

Assesses how you handle difficult decisions, whether you considered the impact all stakeholders to it and whether you learned from the outcome even if the action you took was not the right one in hindsight.

Behavioural Questions and Responses

Behavioural questions are designed to understand how you’ve handled situations in the past. Good responses generally involve seeing things from other people’s perspectives before acting.

Discussing Past Experiences

Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses. Be specific about your role in various situations.

Demonstrating Problem-Solving Skills

Share examples where you successfully addressed challenges. Highlight your thought process and the outcomes.

Handling Conflict Resolution Scenarios

Discuss how you’ve managed conflicts in the past, showing your communication and negotiation skills.

Questions About the Company and Role

Show your knowledge about the company and the specific role you’re interviewing for.

Company Culture and Values

Express how your values align with the company’s culture. This demonstrates that you’re not just a good fit for the role, but also for the organizational environment.

Role-specific Questions

Be prepared to answer questions that are directly related to the job. This could include discussing your technical skills, experience in similar roles, or how you would handle specific job-related scenarios. Unfortunately many interviewers love asking if you know what certain acronyms in the industry are. Have a list of them and learn them, particularly any you find on the company website. Many banks have their own acronyms for each division for example as well as industry wide ones such as FICC (fixed income. commodities and currencies) and while these become second nature once working there, they can be like a foreign language in an interview.

Or for example let’s suppose there is a strong ESG element to your role, they might ask you to define SRI, TCFD, PRI, SDG, GHG, CDP. If you stare blankly at them when they ask what the TCFD is, rather than saying “The task force on climate related financial disclosures is…” you might very well have killed your chances.

Future Projects and Company Goals

Demonstrate your interest and knowledge about the company’s future direction. Discuss how you can contribute to upcoming projects or goals.

Questions You Should Ask the Interviewer

Asking insightful questions can show your enthusiasm for the role and your strategic thinking. Quite often at the end of an interview you will be asked in you have any questions, saying “no” is not very inspiring. Have something reasonably neutral not, “How much and which day of the month will I get paid?”. Perhaps instead ask what they enjoy about working for the organisation. Other ideas might be:

Inquiring About Team Dynamics

Asking about team structure and dynamics shows that you are interested in how you will fit into the team and contribute to its success.

Asking About Growth Opportunities

Inquiring about professional development and career growth opportunities indicates your ambition and commitment to long-term success with the company.

Clarifying Role Expectations

Understanding what success looks like in the role can help you gauge how well it aligns with your skills and career goals.

Closing the Interview Strongly

The way you end the interview can be just as important as how you start it.

Summarizing Your Qualifications

Concisely summarize why you are the right fit for the role, reiterating your key skills and experiences.

Expressing Enthusiasm for the Position

Show genuine enthusiasm for the role and the company. This can leave a lasting positive impression on the interviewer.

Post-Interview Protocol

What you do after the interview can also impact your chances of success.

Following Up After the Interview

Sending a thank-you note or email after the interview demonstrates professionalism and keeps you top of mind with the interviewer but you have to judge if it’s appropriate and when to do it. Sometimes this might also not even be possible, many larger organisations restrict any ability to communicate.

Reflecting on the Interview Experience

Reflect on what went well and what could be improved. This can be invaluable for future interviews.

FAQs About Job Interviews

How can I calm my nerves before a job interview?

People use different techniques, confidence from preparation is key, some also try free YouTube interview hypnosis recordings to visualise success and those that get shaky voices and adrenaline overdoses from nerves take propranolol. It’s widely used by public speakers, surgeons, musicians prior to auditions etc and doesn’t affect your mental ability.

What are some red flags to look out for during an interview?

Vague Job Description: If the interviewer cannot clearly articulate the job responsibilities and expectations, it might indicate disorganization or unclear management expectations.
High Turnover Rates: If there’s a mention or indication of frequent turnovers in the position or company, it could be a sign of an unhealthy work environment.
Negative Atmosphere: Take note of the workplace atmosphere and how employees interact. A tense or unhappy environment can be a bad sign.
Lack of Professionalism: Disrespectful or unprofessional behaviour from the interviewer or staff is a major red flag.
Poor Communication: If the interviewer is constantly interrupted, or if they are dismissive of your questions, it could indicate a lack of respect for employees.
Excessive Focus on Salary or Benefits: While important, overemphasis on compensation over job responsibilities and growth opportunities can be a warning sign.

How long should I wait to follow up after an interview?

A good rule of thumb is to wait about a week before following up. This shows your interest without seeming impatient. If the interviewer gave you a specific timeline for when they would make a decision, respect that timeline before reaching out.

Is it appropriate to negotiate salary during the first interview?

It’s generally advisable to wait until a job offer is made before negotiating salary. The first interview is usually more about assessing fit and capabilities. However, if the interviewer brings up the topic, be prepared to discuss your salary expectations. This will also depend on the size of the organisation, if you’re applying to work at a single retail outlet for example this might be more appropriate than when applying to an international firm where the person interviewing has no decision making ability on what the role pays.

How can I tell if the interview went well?

Positive Body Language: Nodding, smiling, and engaged eye contact can be good indicators
Length of the Interview: If it goes longer than scheduled, it might mean they are interested in knowing more about you.
Future Talk: If they discuss the next stages in the hiring process or how you would fit into the team, it’s often a positive sign.
Specifics About the Job: Detailed discussions about job responsibilities and company culture can indicate serious consideration.

If You Don’t Have an Answer to a Question

Stay calm and don’t panic. It’s okay to not know every answer.
If you need a moment, say so: “That’s a great question. Let me think for a moment.”
If you truly don’t know, be honest but positive: “I’m not entirely sure about that, but I am eager to learn more about it.”
Try to relate your answer to something you do know: “While I haven’t experienced that directly, I have dealt with similar situations…”

Conclusion: Nailing Your Job Interview

Nailing your job interview requires a combination of preparation, not just asking yourself, “What should I say in my job interview?” but the whole package of confidence, body language, facial expressions and the ability to showcase your skills and fit for the role. Remember, an interview is not just about getting the job; it’s about finding the right match for both you and the employer. By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to making a great impression and securing your next opportunity.

Job Interviews