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Finding a Job in South Africa nowadays is becoming more and more difficult… And most of us has been to interview after interview and a few more… and still we can’t seem to land that all important Job. And the mere thought of going to interviews can surely keep one up at night, even if You know that You are well prepared.
I must say technology are so robbing ourselves and our children more and more of that all-important one on one face to face experiences.
So, there is a few common mistakes one should avoid in and during an interview, so here is a few pointers on how to answer certain questions in an interview:
Always prepare about 3 or 4 questions for the day before the interview that You would like to ask the hiring manager regarding the company that You are applying for and DO NOT forget to ask about the companies “Culture” as this is so important question!
Very important – Please avoid the part about salary and benefits that attracted You to this particular job You applying for to the very end of the interview. As this is a common mistake of many Job seekers, way in the beginning of the interview!
Please keep in mind that the person that are asking You these questions are just another human being, so do make eye contact relax and take a deep breath and introduce, after You have asked to be seated. So here You can truly speak freely about yourself and do keep it to about 5mins if possible! Start from where You matriculated then move over to where You were in college or university. Don’t be too nervous at this point, remember he or she does not know Your past education story! And believe it or not most recruiters and HR people is bit nervous at this point.
Do present You past jobs and accomplishments and awards briefly, then do describe Your latest position and work-place. Try and connect Your story for the recruiter that led You to this application for this particular Job that You applying for, do share your qualifications or related ones for the Job in question and always answer and be honest about Your answers! Remember trust must be earned from the word GO. Keep in mind that most companies will check your qualifications!
Why this question – Well the interviewer wants to hear if Your personality fits the “culture” of the company for one.
Do not forget to do Your research on the company You applying for, as the following questions may be asked. “So, what do You know about our company?” Now this is also the time that You can mention how you could advance your own skills as an employee and what You can bring to the table regarding your past abilities and ideas you implemented in previous and present company. “Never try and re-invent the wheel here” stick to the facts and how their particular company can help You grow your career further. This information will surely make You stand out from the next applicant.
This initiative could only but set the bar for You. If You think that You will be too nervous during this part of the interview, then do make little topic word on a writing pad that You can just glance at for a brief moment to put You back on track again.
This question is usually addressed to candidates who are currently employed. While people could have so many reasons to leave their job, and look for a new one, sometimes you can’t give a straightforward answer and you have to distort the truth a little. Yes, honesty during a job interview is genuinely appreciated and if you tell many lies, trust me the hiring manager will know. However, you don’t have to lie, just know how to present your situation. Try to emphasize that you want a better opportunity to grow and develop professionally. Maybe even give some examples why the direction of the company is heading might align with your own desires and ambitions.
The hiring manager likes to hear that their company is really great and will be pleased to see you did your homework.
Another important tip: regardless of how bad your previous work experience was, for whatever reason, it is always best to keep the worst details for yourself. Generally, people from HR don’t like to see candidates who are running away from a bad opportunity and it would put you in an awkward position.
Do not get too carried away with this question and do not mention too many. Share around 3 strengths at most! But connect the strengths to specific details, take advantage of this opportunity to call the shots of the interview and share a story from a prior job where you managed to deal with a situation or came up with a solution for an important issue. You can also point out that You have an extremely strong work ethic. For example: When I’m working on a project, I don’t want just to meet deadlines. Rather, I prefer to complete the project well ahead of schedule. I also have strong communication skills, which help me work well with customers, team members, and executives.
This is not a trick question although most jobseekers think it is, look at this question from another angle. We have all been tempted by answering the following question like this: ‘I’m a perfectionist, and I really can’t think of a weakness right now…”; or “all my managers were always very satisfied with my work and they hadn’t complained once regarding my performance”. Remember we all have weaknesses, even the recruiter or the hiring manager, so they are NOT going to believe You if You say that. So, get over this impulse and be honest by putting your weakness in a good light and point out how you work on improving the weakness.
So, by telling the hiring manager that you have no weaknesses not only makes you look cocky (not good), it can also make you appear as though you’re hiding something SO bad that you’re covering it with a hefty dose of denial.
Individuals who answer this way can also appear to have no self-awareness and lack the ability to be self-critical…which can be a major red flag for a hiring manager.
First, no one knows where they will be in five years, and the hiring manager is aware of this. They are not looking for you to lay out a specific plan, detailing everything you are going to do. Focus on what your dreams are, where you would like to take your career next and how you plan to do this. Be realistic — hiring managers are as likely to reject a far-fetched idea just as quickly as no idea at all.
Understand the question for what it is, and answer it in accordingly. Don’t focus on specific dates, but form your answer to reflect contemplation. For example, instead of telling them you want to be an executive vice president in two years and the president in five, try answering like this:
“I always take the time and effort to advance my career, skills, and knowledge. In five years, I plan to have acquired more in-depth knowledge of the company and industry. Those new skills will help me advance my career.”
Another win-win answer to the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” interview question is to focus on how you plan to help the company. Hiring managers want someone who will add value to the team and help advance the company.
Here You can be creative again with Your words, and again keep it authentic as possible. If you would say: “I think my manager would describe me as a hardworking and responsible person”, then that alone will not be enough. Share with the hiring manager, my last manager would probably say that I am always ready for a challenge and that when I was presented with a difficult situation in my past position, I was able to tackle it with ease. I think that my ability to solve problems in any given situation is something that sets me apart as an employee.
Keep in mind that by answering this question in a way that highlights your skills, you will be more likely to stand out against the rest of the candidates.
Please don’t say Well I think, because I am… or that You might be working somewhere else in the near future. Yet do highlight the fact that you’re interested in a stable and long-term career at that particular company in question, also focus on Your past stability and do mention that You are a team player. And also mention that this company will be and tremendous opportunity for You in terms of career growth and future job You dream of having within that company!
So yes, confidence is very important and try and be as authentic as possible. And try and keep as far as possible eye contact and smile and keep a positive attitude and don’t let the interviewer see you’re nervous even if you are…
Remember to dress for the job You want and be confident, so believe in Yourself and Your skills then You will surely make a good impression.
And never pretend to be someone You are NOT, as the hiring manager might pick up on this.
And please don’t have unrealistic expectations!