This article was originally published by Qazini, an online media platform seeking to drive systemic change in our societies through empowering storytelling.
By Mugure Waithaka
Going for a job interview can be nerve-wracking. It's almost impossible to know what the panellists really think of you; whether they are impressed or not, or what your probability of getting the job is. You cannot control what they think about you, but, as I have learnt, you can control how well the interview goes.
I am currently a student at the university but I remember the first time I went for an interview, still as a student, with absolutely zero experience in the workplace. It was harder than I had expected. Not because of the questions they asked, but because I did not expect what I experienced. There were four panellists, each shooting questions at me simultaneously. I was fidgeting uncontrollably and this led me to overthink, sweat and stutter during the whole interview. To be honest, I still do not remember how any of them looked or even the questions they asked.
A few weeks after the interview, one of them (who I came to learn was the Human Resources Manager) called and informed me that they decided to go with another applicant who impressed them more. Heartbroken but determined, I decided to ask what I should have done better. She was kind enough to give me advice. This is what she told me.
Make sure you are well prepared for the interview. This includes your answers, your outfit, and your alarms. This should go without saying, but be early. As a method of preparation, you can jot down the possible questions they could ask and practice with yourself in front of a mirror or with someone. Work on your tone and your answers. Practice and repeat. Lastly, ensure you have a few questions for the interviewer. At the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. You don't want to come off as ignorant. Have some questions prepared to show your interest in the company.
For me, I could not dream of asking them questions that day. I was overjoyed and nearly ran for the door when the interview ended!
Before going for your interview, do proper research on the company. Know their values, what they stand for, and how they operate. If possible, find out the name of the interviewer so you can use it during the interview. This differentiates you from every other candidate and makes you a viable one. Go in knowing everything there is to know about the organization. Use this information to tailor your answers to their liking.
Dress formally and respectably. Make sure you look polished and you like how you look. First impressions do matter. In addition to that, being comfortable in what you wear will make you feel more confident and will definitely make you feel more at ease during the interview. As you sit, make sure your body language is relaxed but formal. Ask yourself how you would want your prospective employee to dress and behave when coming for an interview.
Be sure to listen to the interviewee and answer appropriately. Pay attention to the introduction and use their name during the interview. This develops a connection with the interviewer which boosts your possibility of getting the job. During the interview, you want to ensure your answers are clear and concise. You shouldn't talk too much or give vague answers. Ensure your tone is calm and collected and don't be too cocky. Don't act desperate. Know your value and exercise this knowledge during the interview.
Remember this is a formal meeting, so act professionally and not casually. As much as it is advisable to act familiar with your employer, don't overdo it. Ensure you pay attention and you are not distracted by anything around you, especially your mobile phone. Lastly, send in an email or note thanking them for the opportunity and remind them of your interest in the company.
I was shocked but pleasantly happy about these tips. I had carried a bottle of juice and was sipping every now and then during the interview and my mentor told me it was a NO, NO! I am writing these tips to help my contemporaries as we all go through job interviews.