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New year, new job: 5 ways to maximize interview success

As the new year begins, many people will be evaluating their life goals and looking for new opportunities. Nicolas Roulin, author of The Psychology of Job Interviews shares some essential interview advice for any job hunter. 

1.) Get to know how interviews work. For most people, a job interview can be nerve-wracking or frustrating, because you want to perform and show your qualifications, but you usually don’t know what to expect! Keep in mind that interviewers are not there to trick you or to find out about your darkest secret. They want to know whether you would be a good fit with the job and their company. They are not interested in you simply stating that you have the right skills or can do the work. Instead, they want you to demonstrate it. That’s why they will ask questions about your past work experiences or how you would handle potential situations at work. So make sure to be specific! For instance, provide details about what you did, why you did it, how you did it, and what was the result of your actions.

2.) Do your homework. This seems straightforward, but many applicants don’t do it (or don’t do it thoroughly). As a starting point, get to know the organization. What industries or markets is it active in? What products or services does it offer? What are its plans for the future? Was it in the news recently? Etc. The more you know, the easier it will be to show that you fit in! Make sure you also know what the job is about. Read the job ad or description carefully and identify the qualifications that are required. Then, think about your own experiences and how you can use them to demonstrate that you possess the right skills or abilities. This allows you to anticipate questions that interviewers will certainly ask.

3.) Manage anxiety. Stress or anxiety can arise during an interview. This is normal. After all, there is a job (that you probably like) on the other end. However, anxiety can sometimes prevent you from performing at your best, and could cost you the job. Fortunately, there are ways to deal with. The best way is certainly to be well prepared (see point 2 above), because the more you know the less uncertain and the more confident you will feel. In addition, it is important to share your emotions (e.g., talk about it with friends or family members) before you go to the interview. Then, prepare a plan of action. For instance, there are short breathing exercises that help reduce stress that you can use before (or during) your interview to calm you down.

4.) Learn to make a good impression. There are strategies and tactics that you can use to impress the interviewer and increase your chances of success. When you describe your past experiences, make sure to highlight your strengths and emphasize how you have effectively used skills that you have identified as required for the job. Make sure to underline how your own values or personality fit with the company’s values or mission statement. For instance, if they promote sustainability, demonstrate how you act on a daily basis (and at work) to save energy and resources. If you find similarities with your interviewers, use them to show that you would belong in that company. But, importantly, even when you promote yourself, make sure to remain honest.

5.) Get ready for technology. Although in most cases your interview will be a traditional in-person interaction with a manager, many organizations rely on technology to do initial interviews. For instance, it is common to invite applicants to log on a website where they will read interview questions and video-record their response via their webcam (or smartphone). Such an experience can be unsettling because it is very formal and you don’t get any reaction or feedback. But it gives you a chance to practice and then tell a clear story that demonstrates your qualifications. Make sure also to dress professionally, and record your responses in a quiet and neutral environment.

Featured Book

  • The Psychology of Job Interviews

    1st Edition

    By Nicolas Roulin

    Most people, at some point in their lives, experience the stress of being interviewed for a job they want. Many also face the challenge of interviewing other people. But what does the science tell us about this unique social situation? What biases are involved, and how can we become aware of them?…

    Paperback – 2017-04-06
    Routledge

About the author

Nicolas Roulin

Nicholas Roulin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Mary's University, Canada

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