So you’ve applied for a job, received a call back and the date is officially set for your interview– no pressure right? Wrong, this can be a worrying experience for many people, especially if it’s your first job interview. While the interview is ultimately the deciding factor in whether or not you get hired for your dream job, the process doesn’t have to be excruciating, if you are properly prepared. Read on to find out what employers are looking for in an interview.

Knowledge of the Job

It seems like the most obvious thing in the world and yet there are plenty of people who go to interviews without this information. Many job seekers apply for probably 50 or more jobs per month so it’s understandable if you don’t remember everything. However, the minute you are called in for an interview the obvious thing to do is go back to the job post and read the information in detail. This is important because if there is anything that you need clarity on you can ask these questions during your interview.

Confidence

It starts with the way you walk into the room; look people in the eyes, greet them with a smile and a firm handshake. You don’t want to seem overly excited, this can come off as immature; you also don’t want to seem pompous or act as if you’re doing them a favor by being there so don’t try to act overly confident either. Find a balance that shows confidence in your ability to do the job, and add value to the company!

Body language

It’s not just about your own body language during an interview, although that’s a part of it. Make sure your arms are not crossed, your eyes aren’t shifting all over the place and you’re not using too many hand gestures. Try to remain calm and composed no matter how many questions are thrown at you. Don’t touch your face or fidget, these are signs of nervousness. Sit upright with your feet pointed towards the interviewer and your head slightly tilted towards them. This indicates that you’re interested and paying keen attention to what he/she is saying. You also need to observe the interviewer’s body language during your interview. Crossed legs could mean the person is closed-off or defensive, so you’ll need to try and steer the interview in a more positive direction.

Experience

In any job interview you’ll most likely be asked about your experience. Some employers require information about your general work experience while other companies will need experience related to the role in which you are applying. According to NACE’s Job Outlook 2017 survey, 65% of employers prefer to hire candidates with relevant work experience while 91% prefer that they just have overall work experience. Thankfully, in most cases internships do count towards work experience. You can also gain valuable job experience by volunteering at a company in your field of study. It’s a great way to network, and build up your portfolio until something permanent comes along. Furthermore, if all goes well, your volunteer job could turn into a paid position and even if it doesn’t you can use them as a reference when you apply for full-time positions.

Do you fit the workplace culture?

Believe it or not, this has become an integral part of the hiring process for many companies. Reportedly, ‘culture fit’ can greatly benefit an organization. It can result in greater job satisfaction, high employee retention, and better employee performance. During your interview you won’t only be assessed on how well you answer the questions or how qualified you are for the job. The interviewer will also take your personality into account to see if you are a good fit for their company. This nothing to worry about, just be yourself because the reality is that you don’t want to be somewhere that you don’t fit in either, no matter how well the job pays. Therefore, during the interview asses the company too, and when it’s time to ask questions be sure to enquire about the culture of the organization and think about whether this is a place where you would fit it.

Knowledge of the company

One of the first things you should do in preparation for an interview is adequate research on the company. Thankfully these days, most companies have an online presence whether it’s via their social media pages or a corporate website. Pay keen attention to the history of the company their clientele and their core functions. Having firsthand knowledge of the business shows that you don’t just want a job, you actually want a job working for this specific company.

Willingness to learn

You might not be versed on every single aspect of the job post and that’s okay in many cases. However, employers need workers who are willing to learn new things. Even if it’s something you’ve never tried, or even thought about trying before you can’t be closed off; the next person in line for the job will be more than willing to do what you won’t!

Flexibility

Depending on the field you’re in, you might need to work late nights and weekends. Employers often ask interviewees if they will be willing to work odd hours to get the job done. If this is your dream job chances are you’ll be more than willing, however if there are situations (religion, health) that will prevent you from working on certain days or past certain hours, it’s best to reveal this during the interview. Transparency in this case is very important. Ultimately though, while it’s important to understand what employers are looking for, the truth is that you won’t be a good fit for certain companies no matter how much preparation you put in. The ones that are not for you will at least give you some good practice and you’ll gain valuable experience in the meantime. Whatever you do, don’t get too frustrated- it’s a process. Keep sending out those resumes and preparing yourself for the day when you finally snag that dream job!
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