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How to impress your future employer at a job interview

How to impress your future employer at a job interview


By Sean Power And Sandra D'Amico


Your interviewer will likely ask you about things you have written in your resume.

"We'd like you to come in for a job interview."

These are the magic words that all job seekers want to hear. It means you've finally made your first big breakthrough in your search for a job. Now, it is all up to you in the interview.

Having an interview opportunity is exciting, but also quite daunting, as the employer is likely to be interviewing many candidates for a single position. You might wonder how you can make the best impression and get the job. What can you possibly say and do in an interview so that you stand out?  

It is a mistake to believe that what happens in an interview is beyond your control or just a matter of luck. There are things you can do, both before and during the interview, to ensure you make a good impression and give yourself the best possible chance of success.

The secret to a successful interview is good preparation. The more time and effort you invest, the more confident you will be and the better you will perform.

When you are first invited to the interview, find out who will be interviewing you and try to find their profile on the organisation's website.

Research the organisation. Find out everything you can about its strategy and main areas of business, how many people it employs and the provinces or countries in which it operates. Think of ways to demonstrate this knowledge in the interview.

Think of the interview as a conversation rather than a test.

Read over your resume and cover letter carefully as your interviewers will often ask questions about things you have written in them.

Think about how you want to promote yourself during the interview. What main messages do you want to communicate? What are your biggest selling points? Is it your education, your work experience, your technical skills or your positive attitude? Look for opportunities to talk about these strengths in the interview.

Make sure you know exactly how to get to the interview location, so that you don't get lost. Go there the day before the interview to make certain you know where it is and how long it will take to get there.

On the day of the interview, make sure your appearance is neat, conservative and professional. For most office jobs, this means a collared shirt, tie, slacks and leather shoes for men, and a long skirt or slacks for women. It is better to be too formal than too casual.

Aim to arrive at least 20 minutes before the scheduled interview time. If  you are running late, call the organisation to let them know how much longer you will be, but remember that tardiness will hurt your chances.

First impressions count so give the impression of being confident and friendly. When you arrive, greet each interviewer with a firm handshake and smile. Maintain good body language, sit up straight and make eye contact with each person in the room.

Everybody gets nervous in interviews; the important thing is not to get overwhelmed by nerves so that you can't think straight. Remind yourself that you are a great candidate and would be a great employee. Think of the interview as a conversation, rather than a test.

Your attitude counts for a lot in an interview. The interviewer will be looking for someone who is enthusiastic, motivated and friendly, and who is genuinely interested in the organisation and the role.

Finish the interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for their time, shake their hand and say you are looking forward to hearing from them. If you don't hear from them, don't be afraid to follow up with an email or a telephone call.

Finally, if you don't get the job, ask the interviewer if they can provide any feedback that will help you in future interviews. Ask what you need to improve on - is it your skills or was it something you said in the interview? If you are not successful, try not to feel too discouraged or ashamed. Think of the process as a learning experience. Interviews are like anything else - we get better with practice.

Next week, we will cover some of the common questions asked at interviews and how best to answer them.

Sean Power is a consultant to HRINC, one of Cambodia’s leading HR services firms, and Sandra D’Amico is the managing director. Contact [email protected] for more information.