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Job Interview Tips: A Step-By-Step Guide For Acing Job Interviews in 2019

Job Interview Tips: A Step-By-Step Guide For Acing Job Interviews in 2019

Most people find job interviews - the idea of selling themselves to a stranger to be unnatural, stressful and a hard prospect to face.

Despite this, job interviews are something that most of us have to go through several times in our lives.

The stakes can be high - we are talking about your own wellbeing and prosperity.

That's why we've compiled the ultimate guide to acing job interviews, including some little known job interview tips to ensure you stand out from the crowd.

If you want other ways to stand out from the crowd, why not read our step-by-step guide to inducing flow state to become hyper-productive.

Table of Contents

Preparing For Job Interviews
How To Answer Job Interview Questions
Tips on How To Ace Job Interview Questions
Preparing For Phone Interviews
Other Tips
- References

Preparing For A Job Interview

The first thing anyone should do to prepare for a job interview is to actually research the company and your job role.

This may indeed enhance your commitment to the interview or highlight questions you may wish to ask throughout the interview - more about these later.

While doing this research, think about why you have applied to the job, what it is that you are interested in and what you think may be challenging about the job.

These may indeed be questions that you will be asked in the interview.

Ultimately, you want to think about what you have to offer to the company you are applying to.

Nowadays, many jobs are open to applicants coming from all sorts of backgrounds.

While that is a great opportunity, you may also find it difficult to articulate why your background is relevant to this particular job.

In fact, another background might seem more relevant. For example, when thinking about working in cybersecurity, for most people university degrees in computer science, maths or another IT- related field will come to mind.

However, having studied cognitive science, neuroscience or psychology may prepare you just as well for a graduate scheme or job in this particular field.

The main thing to remember about a job interview is that you're there to sell yourself, your transferable skills, your attitude and your past experiences.

What is it you have learned in your degree that is transferable to cybersecurity?

Many programs will teach you how to build an argument, how to apply research and knowledge, how to communicate complex ideas and how to test hypotheses.

As a psychologist, you will know about the human mind, and decision-making.

One of the greatest threats to cybersecurity is indeed human error and having studied any field exploring human behaviour will equip you with a skill set very much relevant to this job.

The main point here is that your applicable skill set might not seem obvious at first.

However, you will know why you applied to the job in the first place.

Something made you think that you had a chance, so convey why you really do have the skills to work for this employer. A job interview is your chance to do this.

How To Answer Job Interview Questions


One of the most common questions I get is about job interview questions.

One of the first questions you may be asked could relate to your CV and cover letter.

Make sure you look at these documents as well as any references you may have sent before the interview to prepare for potential questions.

What past experiences are relevant to the job and what have you learned from seemingly irrelevant experiences that are indeed applicable?

Online, you will find endless lists of questions that are regularly asked at job interviews - feel free to check out the references to guide you through some of these in a bit more detail.

Essentially, when answering questions, think about what impression you want to leave the interviewer with.

Show that you are creative in your thinking, that you have problem-solving abilities and that you remain honest and well-grounded.

When asked questions that have a negative twist, try answering them in a positive way by for example illustrating how you have overcome a challenge.

When the questions asked are abstract, relate them back to your experiences and skills.

In the end, the interviewer wants to get to know you as a person and what you have to offer to the company.
But remember - a job interview is not just a one-way street - it is also your chance to assess a potential employer.

Practising these questions with a friend will be extremely useful.

Similarly, saying things out loud in a practice interview will give you a sense of what your answers actually sound like.

If you feel uncomfortable with what you are saying because you are trying hard to impress, chances are that the interviewer will feel the same way.

Ask your friend or colleague to give you feedback and go through sample questions so that you are prepared for the topics that may come up.
Another great tip on how to ace your job interview is to practice answering questions (you can find a list of the most commonly asked questions below) in front of a mirror. This way, you can easily check on your delivery and body language.

Tip on How To Ace Job Interview Questions

On top of practising in advance, you want to make sure you that you are indeed answering what you have been asked.

If you are not sure you understood the question, it is okay to ask for clarification. It will demonstrate that you are actively engaging with the conversation, and will look much better than simply answering the wrong question.

When answering job interview questions, it's important to remember that the way you say things and your body language is just as important as the content of your answers.

First, we'll break down common job interview questions before going on to more tips that should help you out.

The 8 most common job interview questions that are asked in 2019:

Most common job interview questions of 2019 infographic

1) Tell me about yourself.

A classic question that shouldn't be surprising. Interviewers ask this question because they are looking to see that your attitude is consistent with their company culture. Don't just say you're good at something, but back it up with specific evidence.

A good example answer to this job interview question is: "I'm always striving to learn more. For example, I recently enrolled in an Open University course in communications where I learnt the basics of communication in digital marketing. I also thrive from helping others. I often volunteer for charities, and I hosted an event for Oxfam where we raised £2000 last month".

By backing up each claim you make with a specific example, you let the interviewer know that you're not just telling them what they want to hear. Pick traits about yourself that will make you attractive to the employer. In the case above, the person answering the question has demonstrated that they have an attitude of being helpful, organised and wanting to learn more - three traits that are irresistible to most employers.

2) Why should we hire you?

Interviewers are not just looking at why your past experience would make you valuable in this role, but that your personality and attitude is already consistent with the company culture. Again, never make claims about your skills or personality that you can't back up with specific examples.

A good example answer to this would be: "I'd say my attitude. I constantly strive to develop my personal and professional skills, for example, I have recently completed an open university course in communication. I'm easily adaptable, as shown in my prior role where I had to quickly learn lots of new things and develop successful strategies that drove the development of the business. I'm highly organised and attentive, I have come up with my own method of tracking open projects. I believe in working hard, but this has to be balanced with playing hard, which is something I believe your company gets right. I've also performed well in similar roles in the past, for example in my previous role I increased traffic to our site by 50% in 3 months".

This answer is good as it focuses on why your attitude is compliant with the attitude of the business, which is crucial to impressing interviewers. If they can't imagine you working side-by-side with the existing team then you have no chance. It's also important to talk about previous experience, backing it up with specific examples of success stories.
 
3) What is your greatest strength?

The biggest mistake you can make here is hesitating before you answer. The whole purpose of an interview is to sell yourself to the employer. If you aren't absolutely sure where your strengths are, you look unprepared. When choosing a strength, always back it up with specific examples of how that has helped your previous employers, or if your experience in the workplace is lacking, how you have demonstrated this strength in other areas of your life.

For example, a good answer to this question would be: "I'm very quick to adapt and can learn extremely quickly. In my previous role, despite having no digital marketing experience, I had to take on the mantle of content manager. I taught myself basic HTML and SEO within a couple of days and performed a full site audit. As a result of my on-page optimisation, traffic increased to our site by 50% in three months. I also had to research, plan and execute an influencer campaign, successfully negotiating posts from over 50 social media influencers with a combined reach of over 3 million people, resulting in several thousand pounds of affiliate revenue".

By a) saying something that relates to the role you are applying to, and b) backing up each point with specific examples and data, you show your potential employer that you are prepared and organised (by giving such a good answer), and puts you above the people who come in with standard interview questions.

4) What's your greatest weakness?

You may be tempted to say something like "I'm a perfectionist". Don't. It's too cliche. Instead, be honest about yourself, but always talk about the steps that you've taken to address this issue. Employers don't want someone who is obviously lying to their faces, but someone who is realistic about their own abilities and skills and someone who cares enough about themselves to address the issue head-on.

For example, you may want to say "I tend to rush head-on into things, as I can get very passionate and excited about projects I'm working on. However, it's something I've been working on in my previous role and I've come up with a system to help me break down each step of a project and to remind me to double check all of my work before moving onto the next step. It has taught me it's ok to take a step back and not get tunnel vision on the task I'm working on".

By addressing a real weakness, and discussing the steps that you took to overcome it, you show that you are honest about yourself, know yourself, and most importantly take steps to overcome these weaknesses. Employers know that you're not going to be perfect and are going to have weaknesses - at the end of the day, we're all human. If you say something like "I'm a perfectionist" then you come across as unprepared and disingenuous.

5) Why did you leave your last job?

You need to be careful with this one. Answering something like "I didn't get on with co-workers" will make your new employer think you may not get on with the existing staff. Be honest, and if there were issues with your co-workers or managers then make sure you explain the ways you tried to overcome the issues before deciding to leave.

A good example answer to this question is: "I'm someone who needs to learn, grow and adapt constantly. Whilst I'll forever be grateful for the opportunities my last employer gave to me, and of the amazing friendships that I made with co-workers and my managers alike, I felt like I needed a new challenge. From what I understand, the culture you have here is much more fast-paced, and I like the fact that you are expanding overseas which is what really drew me to this role."

By being positive and friendly about your previous role and colleagues, it makes the person interviewing you to believe that you'll be similarly as positive in your new role. Also, instead of focusing on the push factors of the previous company and talking about the pull factors of the new company, you show that you've done your research and have provided a positive answer to what is normally a negative question.

6) Why do you want to work for us?

Everyone in the room knows that the reason you are there is probably to earn money. Don't say this though. Instead, research the culture of the company, their recent financial accounts and press releases. If it's a company that's growing fast and has a work-hard/play-hard culture then say these things. It shows that you have researched the company and that you have a reason for wanting to work at that specific place.

A good example answer to this interview question would be: "From what I understand from talking to people today, and from reviews on Glassdoor, you have a very work hard play hard culture. This really resonates with me, as I love a challenge at work but need that time to unwind and socialise with my colleagues as well. I also saw a press release talking about the upcoming office you are opening in New York. I'm very attracted to expanding companies as I intend to stay here long-term and look forward to tackling new challenges that arise when businesses expand to new markets. Finally, your company is well-respected in the industry and is known to provide an exceptionally high-quality service. I like everything I do to be the best it can possibly be, so I'd love to contribute to this culture of success".

The above answer covers the company culture, the trajectory of the company and a brief sentence about where the company is now. This shows that you have done your research and that the aims and attitude of the company resonates with your own.

7) Can you describe how you have overcome a difficult work situation?

This is the question that people seem to be least prepared for, so always make sure you prepare an answer for yourself. Make sure it's relevant to the role you're applying for.

For example, if applying for a customer service role, a good example answer to this question would be "We were running ads on Facebook, and this one guy would troll every single post we would make. Despite receiving advice from my colleagues to ignore him, I decided to engage with him. After a couple of attempts, I got his email and we started talking. Three days later, he was a convert to our products and left excellent reviews on Trustpilot, Google and Amazon, and even did a vlog about our products that directly led to an increase in sales".

By showing that you have gone above and beyond in your previous role, it shows that you are willing to go above and beyond in your new role in order to pursue the aims of the business.

8) Do you have any questions for me?

Before any interview, think of at least 10 different questions to ask. Most of them will be answered within the course of the interview, so you want to make sure you have some questions at the end. Don't ask things that you could find out with a Google search or by looking on their website. Try and think about more insightful things that will teach you about the company and their culture.

Good example questions to ask in a job interview:

"Please, can you tell me about the company culture in more detail?".

"Would I get the opportunity to earn any qualifications?".

"Could I hear more about your experience in the company? When did you join, what do you think about it?".

"What would a regular day look like?".

"How long on average does it take for employees to get promoted?".

Remember that a job interview isn't always about selling yourself. It's also your chance to see if a company is a good fit for you.

In your previous answers, you've explained why your past experience, transferable skills and attitude comply with the company.

This is your chance to see if the attitude of the company complies with you.

Non-Verbal Communication Tips for Job Interviews

Once you have made sure you are verbally communicating what you want and answering the right questions in the best way, it should all go well, right?

Not necessarily - non-verbal communication is, in fact, a major part of how you as an interviewee are perceived.

The below video highlights how you can adapt your body language to get the best out of your next job interview. We will summarize the main points highlighted in the video below.



1. Adopt an engaged posture (lean in towards the interviewer)
2. Appear calm and relaxed
3. Use the right-hand gestures (not too much movement, this is distracting.)
4. Mirror the interviewer
5. Get your eye contact right (not too much, not too little.)
6. Avoid lying signals (touching your nose or face, glancing off to the side).
7. Give the perfect handshake (firm, dry hands. If you are prone to sweaty palms, you should wipe your hands on your trousers or other fabric).
Bonus tip not in the video: smile! The power of the smile is undervalued. Show the interviewer that you are happy to be there.

While some of these tips may seem obvious or even a little bit ‘cliché’, having practised these simple forms of interaction in a practice interview will make you feel more secure.

If you are sitting in an interview, wondering what to do with your hands, where to look at and how to greet the interviewer, then you are losing focus on answering the questions asked or asking your own questions.

Having ritualized some of the tips above will allow you to perform better.

Questions To Ask In An Interview

There comes a time in every job interview when you have to ask questions.
Asking your interviewer questions is your chance to find out more about the job and the company.

You might want to find out about practical aspects such as working hours or payments. Or you might be interested in the working culture of the company.

Either way, this is your opportunity to show curiosity. At the same time, you want to prove that you have come prepared.

Don’t ask questions that are answered on the website of the company. Instead, dig deeper and show your genuine interest in the role, their company and their industry.

Therefore, preparation is key to getting these questions right. You may even want to bring in a list of questions you have prepared.

You are not expected to improvise questions on the spot, but if things come to mind during the interview, this is your chance to ask them.

Always try and ask the interviewer questions - it shows you are genuinely interested in the role and the company. Here are some example questions to get you started:
  • I see that there are lots of millennials working here. Could you please tell me more about the culture of the company? What is it like to work here?
  • I saw that you recently launched a headquarters in New York. What direction is the company going in? Do you have any more plans for expansion?
  • Could you please tell me a bit about your experience with the company? When did you join, what are your thoughts?
  • Are the existing staff sociable? Are there events, parties etc.?
By not only asking smart questions that should help your decision as to whether or not you want to work somewhere, but this also shows to the interviewer that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the company and the job.

Notice how the questions are tied into your own observations or research.

Preparing For A Phone Interview

A phone interview may feel unnatural or awkward at first, however, it may also be a great opportunity.

To make sure you are experiencing the best conditions for your phone interview, ensure you have a good connection and that you won’t be disturbed.

Practice the interview with a friend and get a feeling for what silences may feel like.

While not seeing the interviewer won’t allow you to pick up on non-verbal cues, you may find it easier to focus on the content of what you are saying.

Indeed, you will have the chance to note down points you would like to make or ask about.

When speaking on the phone you want to avoid reading off a list, however, writing down some key terms will provide you with enough of a memory cue to mention what you have prepared.

The best tip we can give you for phone interviews is to smile the whole way through it...

I know, it seems strange. But try it with yourself right now. Say something out loud to yourself with your normal expression, and then say the same thing whilst you are smiling.

You should be able to notice the difference in tone and style - even if you can't pick up on the difference, the person on the other end of the phone definitely will.

You will come across more confident, friendly and calm, giving you an advantage over others applying for the same job.

Other Tips

When it comes to the interview day, you want to make sure that you have been prepared in advance.

Things that may add further stress to you on that day should be avoided.

Plan what you will wear and how you will get to the interview on the days before the interview. If you have time, make a test trip to the interview location a day before, to ensure you know the route and can get there on time.

The outfit you choose is important for any job interview.

Wear something that is appropriate for the interview, for example, you may have been given a dress code.

If you haven't been given a dress code - always opt for smart business attire (suit, tie and shoes for men and a jacket, blouse and knee-length skirt for women).

Even if your interview is at McDonald's, taking this step shows you are willing to go the extra mile.

For example, when I was 16 I worked at McDonald's for several months. I was waiting in a room with the other candidates, all of whom were much older then I was. I was the only person wearing a suit, everyone else was dressed casually. There was only one job going and I got it. Was the suit the deciding factor? Almost definitely not, but it helped me stick out from the crowd from the get-go.

Also, plan what you will bring to the interview. You may have been asked to bring a birth certificate or a national insurance number etc.

Always bring a notepad, a pen and a list of questions you want to ask.

Also, bring a copy of your CV, the job listing, and any other supporting information for your application. This will help you look organized, attentive and driven.

Make sure that whatever documents you need to bring are in a neat folder and in a presentable condition.

And lastly, remember that an interview is a chance for both sides to get to know each other.

Don’t feel like this is only about the interviewer assessing you.

Observe if you feel like this job is right for you and afterwards think about what went well and whether you would like to proceed to the next step of the application process.

Supplements For Job Interviews

Our final tip is for those who get extremely nervous or stressed before a job interview.

If this applies to you, you should consider using supplements to help boost your performance on the day.

If you look for something that works on the dopamine pathway (helps you be more confident, assertive and better motivated), then you are usually able to deal with stressful situations better.

BrainZyme® Professional is a potent naturally-sourced brain foods supplement, helping tens of thousands of people around the world to concentrate better, have more energy and be more productive.

BrainZyme® Professional works on the dopamine pathway, making it an ideal supplement for job interviews.

Click here to find out more about how BrainZyme can help you stay calm, focuses and driven, whether you have a job interview or not.

You could also check out the following related articles:
Best of luck in finding your new job!

References


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2 comments


  • Hi Brian,

    Best of luck for the interview! If you follow the tips above I’m sure you’ll be great!

    Brainzyme is a naturally-sourced brain food supplement and only utilises food ingredients that have a long history of scientific research, and are completely safe.

    Therefore, they are allowed in all workplaces (and actually encouraged by some HR departments).

    I hope this helps – and again, best of luck for Tuesday.

    Best,
    Robert

    Robert (Mod) on

  • Thanks for the great tips!

    I have my first interview for 20 years on Tuesday and I’m feeling very nervous about it.

    Is taking brainzyme allowed at work or might I get tested for it?

    It seems interesting but I want to be on the safe side.

    Brian on

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