A Guide To Acing Your Next Job Interview

As you step into the world of work, the most crucial skill you'll need to master is crushing a job interview. Your interview skills can make or break your chances of landing that dream job. This article on job interview strategies aims to guide you through the process, from pre-interview preparation to post-interview etiquette, ensuring that you're well-prepared to impress your potential employer.

How to Prepare For a Job interview

  • Research thoroughly. Walking into an interview room armed with knowledge about the company's history, values and recent accomplishments, shows employers that you're genuinely interested and invested in their organisation. Spend time browsing the company's website, read recent news articles, and browse social media platforms to gather as much information as possible. 
  • Understand the job requirements. Study the job description closely. What skills and qualifications are they looking for? Tweak your answers to showcase how your experiences align with these requirements. Prepare anecdotes that highlight your achievements and abilities in these areas. This alignment is key to convincing interviewers that you're the right fit for the role. 
  • Practice common interview questions and answers. They say practice makes perfect, and job interviews are no exception. Research interview questions common to your industry and practice formulating concise, clear answers. Be ready to discuss your strengths, weaknesses and experiences. This preparation will boost confidence and help you deliver informed responses during the interview.

Dressing For Success

First impressions count, and your appearance is a big part of that initial impact. Dressing appropriately shows that you’ve taken the interview seriously and understand the company's culture.

  • Research the company's dress code online or through their social media platforms where possible. Aim to match the company's style but kick it up a notch to show enthusiasm. 
  • When in doubt, go for classic and timeless pieces. A well-fitted suit (pants or skirt) in neutral colours like black, grey, or navy works magic. Closed shoes are a safe bet for most interviews. 
  • Less is more. Keep accessories simple and minimal. Avoid flashy jewellery or anything that distracts from your skills and qualifications. 
  • Cleanliness is crucial. Make sure your clothes are clean, ironed, and free from stains. Neatly groomed hair and clean nails show attention to detail. 
  • Don't sacrifice comfort for style. If you're uncomfortable, it shows. Wear shoes you can walk confidently in and clothes that fit comfortably. 
  • Lay out your outfit the night before to avoid last-minute stress. Double-check for any loose threads, missing buttons, or other potential issues.

Mastering the Art of Communication

  • Clarity counts. Clear and effective verbal communication is essential during interviews. Practice speaking confidently, avoiding “ums” and “uhs”, and maintaining a steady pace. Make sure your responses are concise and to the point. 
  • Watch your body language; it speaks volumes. Maintain eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and sit up straight. Avoid crossing your arms or fidgeting. Good posture and open gestures demonstrate confidence and engagement. 
  • Listen. Interviews are not just about talking, they're also about listening. When an interviewer speaks, listen attentively and show your engagement by nodding and responding appropriately. This demonstrates your communication skills and your ability to absorb information.

Nailing Behavioural Interviews

Behavioural questions are designed to assess how you've handled situations in the past. The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is your guide to crafting effective responses: describe the situation, the task at hand, the action you took, and the positive result of your efforts. For example, if you are asked about a challenging teamwork experience, explain the situation, your role, the steps you took to address the challenge, and the positive outcome. This method showcases your problem-solving skills and ability to contribute positively to a team.

Keep in mind that employers value candidates who can adapt to various situations and solve problems effectively. Highlight instances where you've faced unexpected challenges and handled them successfully. This demonstrates your resilience and ability to think on your feet.

How To Handle Common Interview Questions

  • Tailor your answers to highlight relevant experiences and skills. Common interview questions like "tell me about yourself" or "why do you want to work here?" require thoughtful responses. Be specific and connect your response to the company's values and goals. 
  • Take every opportunity to showcase your qualifications. When asked about strengths and weaknesses, choose qualities that align with the job requirements. Back up your claims with real examples to demonstrate your capabilities. 
  • Be prepared for challenging questions. If you don't know an answer, don't panic. It's okay to take a moment to think before responding. If the question is truly beyond your knowledge, express your willingness to learn and your enthusiasm for growth.

How To Deal With Nervousness Before The Interview

Interview nervousness is completely normal. Common triggers include fear of the unknown, failure, or feeling underprepared. Recognising these triggers can help you address them more effectively. Techniques to manage nervousness include deep breathing exercises, visualising success and focusing on the positive.

Project a positive attitude. Greet your interviewers with a smile and maintain a positive tone throughout the conversation. Even if you feel nervous, projecting positivity will leave a lasting impression.

Why Follow-Up Etiquette

A post-interview follow-up is your chance to keep yourself on the employer's radar. Consider sending a personalised email within 24 hours of the interview thanking them for their time and reiterating your enthusiasm for the position. It’s a small gesture that can make a big difference.

How To Ace Virtual Job Interviews

With technology becoming more integrated into the hiring process, virtual interviews are becoming increasingly common. It saves time and resources while allowing employers to assess candidates from a distance. The trick is to treat virtual interviews with the same level of professionalism as in-person ones. Here’re some top tips to prepare for a virtual job interview:

  • Dress appropriately. 
  • Ensure a clutter-free and well-lit background. 
  • Conduct the interview in a quiet environment. 
  • Test your equipment beforehand and have a backup plan in case of unexpected issues. 
  • Technical glitches can happen. If a problem arises during the interview, stay calm, communicate the issue, and try to resolve it quickly.

About The IIE’s Varsity College

The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE) of which Varsity College is a brand, is South Africa’s largest registered and accredited private provider of higher education. At Varsity College we understand that no two students are the same or learn the same. That’s why we make sure a student’s education is shaped around them; how they like to learn, what they are passionate about, what makes them tick, and what makes them thrive. Our education by design approach allows students to grow into their best, and creates a space where they can live, learn and play – their way.