The interview: 10 effective tips to land your dream job
For many applicants, the interview is the most stressful part of the application process. Anyone who can sell themselves in an interview is a big step closer to landing their dream job. In order to do this, you should prepare yourself as best as possible e.g. by preparing for the typical interview questions. We give you 10 tips that are guaranteed to help you shine during the interview.
Contents: 10 steps for the perfect job interview
- Do some in-depth research about the company and the job you are applying for
- Check your application documents one more time before the interview
- Prepare yourself for the typical interview questions and practise your answers
- On the day of the interview: avoid stress and dress appropriately
- Smile — with your whole body
- Do not pretend to be someone you are not
- Avoid stock answers to typical questions
- Take notes
- Ask intelligent questions at the end of the interview
- Clarify what the next steps will be
1. Do some in-depth research about the company and the job you’re applying for
You have already done this for your cover letter, but you should refresh your knowledge before the interview: find out as much as possible about your potential employer, its products, services, etc. Study the corporate website, read the latest news about the company and the industry in which it operates, and visit the company’s social network channels. The more information you collect, the more you can shine by demonstrating detailed knowledge in the interview.
This also applies to the job you are applying for: you should know as much as possible about your potential activities in the company and how your qualifications fit. Take another look at the job advertisement and your cover letter. Here, you have already specified the links between the job requirements and your skills to the best of your ability.
2. Check your application documents one more time before the interview
Recruiters often ask questions in the interview about your cover letter and CV. Re-read your application documents carefully before you meet them face-to-face. For example, be prepared for the other person to suddenly switch to a foreign language if you have specified that you are “fluent” in it. Inquiries about the infamous gaps in your CV should not make you nervous either.
Use this step to practise introducing yourself, which you often have to do at the beginning of an interview (“ell me a little bit about yourself”). However, do not memorise your entire CV. Instead, look for the positions and qualifications that are relevant to the job you are applying for, and link them to a coherent presentation of who you are.
3. Prepare yourself for the typical interview questions and practise your answers
Even if you cannot prepare for everything, there are certain interview questions that nearly always come up. You can expect to be asked about your career, your motivation, or your professional suitability. Other typical interview questions may ask about your strengths and weaknesses. At this point, many applicants try to sell supposed weaknesses as strengths (“My greatest weakness is my perfectionism.”). Others take this question as a joke and cite chocolate or coffee as their biggest weaknesses. Don't do this! Be open about your weaknesses, without painting yourself in a bad light. Prepare individual answers, be honest, and signal that you are working on your weaknesses.
Also, get your friends or relatives to ask you the most common interview questions so you can practise. This lets you get an idea of what the interview will be like, plus you can receive direct feedback and revise your answers accordingly.
Typical interview questions include:
- Why do you want to leave your current job (after only a few months/years)?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you the perfect candidate for the job?
- What knowledge and skills can you use to advance our company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- How would you rate your performance in this interview?
4. On the day of the interview: avoid stress and dress appropriately
You are bound to be nervous on the day of the interview. This is normal and helps you to focus during face-to-face conversation. However, you can do without unnecessary stress just before meeting the interviewer in person. Therefore, plan enough time for your journey, write down the address of the company, study the route from the train station to your destination, or inquire about the parking situation. Another helpful tip: memorise the name of the person you are meeting. This way, you won't get nervous when you have to greet them.
In addition, think about what you want to wear to the interview in good time. There’s not much worse than appearing in front of the boss or HR manager inappropriately dressed. If in doubt, phone and ask about the dress code before the interview.
5. Smile — with your whole body
Put on your friendliest (and most honest!) smile just before entering the building. This creates a pleasant, friendly atmosphere for your first meeting. Then shake hands briefly and firmly, and make friendly eye contact.
Also pay attention to transmitting positive body language during the interview: sit up straight, do not cross your arms in front of your chest or behind your head, and always face the person you are talking to.
6. Do not pretend to be someone you are not
Even if it sounds obvious, you should take this tip to heart: be yourself during the interview and do not pretend. After all, you want to be hired because of your own personality and not a fake one you have invented. Sooner or later, HR managers will notice and this will show you in a bad light.
But be careful: If you are particularly confident or shy, it can be helpful not to show this too openly. For example, do not try to lead the conversation, and do not interrupt your counterpart with inappropriate comments. Also make sure to speak clearly and maintain eye contact.
7. Avoid stock answers to typical questions
HR managers conduct interviews regularly and have heard pretty much everything. Therefore, avoid stock answers that you have memorised from the Internet or job application guides. At this point, the preparation you did in point 3 will pay off: give individual answers that reflect you and tell your personal story. Always try to link your professional experience with the requirements of the position or company you are targeting.
8. Take notes
Another tip to help you stand out from the crowd of applicants: take notes of important points during the interview. This will make you appear attentive and interested, while also conveying that you work in a structured manner. Notes are also helpful if you want to revisit certain aspects later, or if you want to work through the interview at home. Ideally, take an elegant, block-coloured notebook with you. This looks more serious than loose pages or the writing pad you used at school. However, you should avoid using a tablet or smartphone.
9. Ask intelligent questions at the end of the interview
At the end of an interview, the interviewer or boss will usually ask you if you have any questions. You should definitely make the most of this opportunity. Think of some relevant questions before the interview to demonstrate your interest in the company and good preparation. However, be prepared to deviate from your questions if necessary. If they have already been discussed, you could unmask yourself as an inattentive listener if you ask them again. Instead, pick up on topics from the interview or ask in-depth questions about the vacancy and the company.
By the way: it is best not to raise the topic of remuneration yourself. Instead, let the interviewer bring it up.
10. Clarify what the next steps will be
If this has not already been explained, at the end of the interview you should clarify the rest of the application process: Will there be a second round of interviews? When can you expect to hear back from them? If you have not received a response after two weeks, get in touch by phone or email to ask whether a decision has been made.
No interview is exactly like another, but using the above tips you can prepare yourself and take a big step towards landing your dream job. If you have any further questions about interviews, are interested in a specific vacancy advertised in our recruitment section, or would like to find out more about the DEKRA Arbeit Group’s services, please get in touch with us. We look forward to hearing from you!