Nailing an interview is no rocket science but so many of us struggle with it. Let’s face it, interviews can be daunting. While the interviewer is scanning your resume, you anxiously await the onslaught of questions.
In those moments of silence, your brain convinces you that you are being scrutinized more than you actually are. This is known as the ‘Spotlight Effect’ which describes how people believe that others are paying attention to them more than they actually are.
The good news is, anyone can learn the tricks to ace a business interview with the right tools and tips. The first step to acing an interview is to be well prepared.
The first step to acing an interview is to be well prepared.
Most questions asked can be traced back to a set of ‘root’ questions. Let’s discuss the questions one by one.
Hello, nice to meet (or e-meet) you:
The introductions are all about first impressions.
The introductions are all about first impressions. The interviewer is looking to see whether you can start a conversation and summarise a long chain of events coherently, and what interesting facts you want to share about yourself. The answer needs to be eloquent and succinct as you are expected to know yourself better than anyone else in the world!
Here are some examples:
Tell us about yourself.
Tell us how your day went.
Walk us through your resume.
Tell us something about yourself that is not on your resume.
Why should we hire you?
What fictional character and / or animal are you, and why?
Master the art of storytelling:
Do you recall the last time you zoned out of a conversation you had with a friend? Exactly.
People love sharing stories but very few understand the art of storytelling. The goal is to keep your interviewer engaged when telling a story and not get lost in the details.
One way to do this is by using the STAR (because you are a star!) approach to interviewing. A breakdown of the STAR method is:
Situation: Set the context and highlight key details of the situation
Task: Explain the task, your role and your responsibility in that situation
Action: Identify the key steps you took to address the situation
Result: List the outcomes that came about as a result of the action you took
In case you are wondering, here are some examples of openings used by interviewers to ask this type of question:
Tell us about a time when you…
When was the last time you…
Can you describe a time when…
Have you ever experienced a situation where…
Be a soldier:
Interviewers will now take the interview one step further to get to know you better.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Tell us about a time you demonstrated teamwork or leadership / made a tough decision / negotiated with someone.
When quoting your experiences and personality traits, remember to use verbs, discuss the impact you have made and discuss efforts you are taking to overcome any weaknesses.
For instance, saying “I am hardworking” is not as valuable as saying “I work diligently in teams and focus on the big picture in work but want to try becoming more detail-oriented”.
Staying committed to the firm:
No firm wants to hire someone who is coming to the interview unprepared or lacking the enthusiasm to join them.
Checking the LinkedIn profiles of the firm and interviewer, visiting the firm’s website/social media pages, and discussing the role and firm with their current employees are a few steps you can take to prepare for this conversation.
Moreover, assessing how your profile matches the job role will also help you discuss your growth in the interviewer’s company.
Why do you want to join our firm?
Why did you leave your last job?
Why is this the right field for you?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Say your goodbyes:
Roles have reversed here. You are no longer in the hot seat and can ask the interviewer pertinent questions. The interviewer knows this and is expecting you to share your thoughts and ask questions, so never leave the interview room without doing so.
The interviewer knows this and is expecting you to share your thoughts and ask questions, so never leave the interview room without doing so.
Do you have any questions for us?
Do you have any thoughts about this interview?
Some examples of questions you can ask include, “can I get more clarity on xyz topics discussed during the interview?”, “what has compelled you to join and work with this firm”, and “what are the growth prospects of this firm looking like going forward?”
With all the questions shared above, you can derive common patterns and categorise them. For example, “tell us about yourself” and “why should we hire you?” can have overlapping responses.
Therefore, the key here is to prepare, rehearse and repeat. So, grab those notepads and start scribbling out all your answers. Discuss those answers with peers and mentors, and voila, you are set for a lifetime of interviews!