Top 10 Tips for a Successful Interview

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When applying for a job, do you find yourself unsure of how to write your resume, better yet how to leave a memorable impression for the interviewer? For this article, I partnered with a Human Resource professional to learn more about the interview process, and tips to help you succeed and land a job!

What inspired this post is that during this time, there is a lot of uncertainty in the job market and many individuals are looking for work. I wanted to share with you 10 tips from a HR perspective so you can land your next job with confidence!

Our interview is with Kate, the founder and author at www.honeyandwatch.com

After being fed up with seeing all the ‘life hacks’ and ‘DIY’ videos online, Kate decided to start honey&watch to provide trustworthy information for women. With a professional background in recruitment, Kate writes blog posts on job searching, office life and employment. She also uses her passion for research to write beauty and psychology articles based on the work of experts.

1. What are characteristics you find in people who do really well in their interviews? (confident, likable etc.)

People who are authentic and genuine always do well in interviews. Realistically, I as a recruiter know that not everyone is loud and confident. If you’re a little shy, that’s okay! What’s important is that you have the skills to do the job. Also, someone who is polite does well. If you’re offered a drink, make sure you offer to take the cup back to the kitchen. Hold doors open when you can, say please and thank you and tuck in your chair when you leave.

2. Do recruiters check social media? Any suggestions for what not to post?

Most of the time there are so many applications that employers just won’t have the time to check everyone’s social media.

If you do end up being successful, this is when it can hurt your chances of succeeding in your new job. Some companies will have a social media clause in their contracts (https://www.lawinsider.com/clause/social-media).

I keep my personal accounts private, that way I can post those drunken boomerangs that I immediately delete the morning after without worrying about my boss seeing them. Avoid any references to drugs, photos that are really revealing (underwear pics), videos or photos where you look really drunk. Avoid anything that’s too political. Employers by law aren’t allowed to discriminate based on your political opinion, but just because I’ve always been fair, it would be naive to say it doesn’t happen with other recruiters.

3. When a candidate negotiates the salary, what is usually the reason for accepting their offer or for not accepting their offer? Any suggestions for negotiating a salary?

When a job is advertised, there will often be a salary scale. Employers will always be looking to pay the lowest on that pay scale. Always let the employer bring it up. Don’t bring it up in the interview unless they do. If you get the job and then can’t negotiate the salary you want, you can always turn it down. Just be honest. Be confident and state the salary you want. Good employers will at least be open to listening to you, however they will often have a strict budget to stick to, so don’t take it personally if they can’t offer you what you want.

4. Does the college major matter that much?

It really depends on the job. If I’m recruiting for a job that’s a little more specialist, the person will need the qualifications. For example, doctors, vets, lawyers etc will definitely need higher education.

However, a lot of jobs these days can be worked up to. As a recruiter, all I want is someone who has the knowledge and the skills needed to do the job. Whether they got those skills through work placements, full time employment or higher education, it really doesn’t matter. I don’t think higher education is necessary to be successful in life. However, I think it also depends on what country you live in. I’ve heard that a lot of employers in the US focus more on qualifications than UK companies. A good tip is to have a look at job vacancies in the industries you are interested in. Have a look at manager positions. What sort of qualifications are listed as required in the job advert?

5. What questions do you like interviewees to ask after an interview?

The questions you ask the employer is one of the most important parts of the interview. Try to ask questions which show that you’re passionate about learning new skills and that you’re serious about the job you’re applying for. Here are some examples:

  • What have previous people in this role gone on to do?
  • What sort of training opportunities do you have for staff?
  • Do you do any projects overseas (only ask this if relevant – it’s a big company)?
  • What’s the career progression within your company for this role?

6. What research of the company should the interviewee research and learn before an interview?

To be honest, any research is great research. As an interviewer, we care less about what you know and are much more impressed that you have researched the company in the first place!

What information you research depends on the job role you are applying for. Say you’re applying for a waitress role; focus on things like what drinks they serve, their loyalty schemes etc. Things that would be useful to know if you did get the job.

Then, learn three facts about the company overall. Here’s a few things that are great to know:

  • Do they have something like a mission statement? What is it?
  • Have they made any big changes recently? (renovations / new projects)
  • Where are their main offices / headquarters?
  • What’s the name of the person who founded the company? What’s their story?

7. Which resumes stand out the most to you and why? Any tips to make a resume better?

When it comes to resumes, the ones that stand out are the one’s that are easy to score. Recruiters will sometimes get literally hundreds of applications for one job.

Most companies will have a scoring system, so they will have to sit and score every single one. If you have a resume that’s four pages long and has detailed paragraphs, the likelihood is it’s not going to be read properly. This can really hurt your chances of getting an interview.

If your resume is simple yet descriptive, employers are much more likely to take in and remember the information you want to get across. Keep resumes short and simple! Name your past employment and experience, then say what skill you learnt in each place and how you use it. I recommend that a resume should be no longer than two pages.

Read more about how to write the perfect resume (I’m from the UK, we call them CVs): https://honeyandwatch.com/how-to-write-a-cv/

8. What mistakes do you see interviewees make most often? Any suggestions?

The most common mistake is people trying to be someone they’re not. Everyone has in their head an image of the ‘perfect employee’. Really confident, qualified and unshakable.

People come into interviews trying to be this ‘perfect employee’, but they either crumple and get
too shy because they’re being inauthentic, or they come across arrogant.

As employers, we know that this ‘perfect employee’ doesn’t exist. All we want is someone who we are going to get along with and who can do the job. If you know you can do the job, even if you might need a little bit of training, just come in and be yourself! Don’t focus so much on being confident, focus on being yourself. Confidence will then follow.

I’ll let you into a little secret – I hate conducting job interviews. My palms go all sweaty – what if I say a question wrong? What if I make a fool of myself?

Interviewers are human too, so just try to connect to them on a person to person basis.

9. What are the top questions you ask to the interviewee?

Tell us your biggest strengths (be honest about this – be confident with what you’re good at! You won’t come across arrogant if you’re telling the truth).

  • What are your biggest weaknesses? (Be honest about this also – we know everyone has weaknesses! What we’re really looking for is how you’re working on improving).
  • Tell us about a time you’ve worked in a team.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? (If it relates to the job you’re applying for, then
  • absolutely tell the truth. However, if it doesn’t – tell a little white lie).
  • Why are you leaving your last job? (Answer this by saying you want to learn new skills or develop your career. Whatever you do, DO NOT talk badly about your old employer!).

10. Anything I have not asked here that you would like to include?

My main bit of advice would be take real care when working on your job applications.

Never treat it like a quick task – you have to view it as a project. Make sure all your emails are spelled correctly and your resume is perfectly clear.

Be on time to interviews and don’t forget basic manners. Don’t let the little details ruin all the work you put into the bigger picture.

I have some resources I have made that I think people would find helpful:

Conclusion

  • Be yourself when interviewing.
  • Do your research on the company, and prepare some questions for the interviewer.
  • Update your resume with key words, but be honest.
  • Keep your resume within 1-2 pages.
  • Let the recruiter bring up salary first.
  • Your college major doesn’t always matter, as long as you can do the job.

Good luck on your job search, and your future interviews. If you follow these steps above, we believe you will stand out and land the job. Your interview is very important, so adequately prepare for it.

What other techniques and research do you like to do for your interviews? Add your thoughts into the comments below!

Thank you so much, Kate, for taking the time to do this interview.

To learn more about career & interview tips, follow her Instagram or check out her blog at https://honeyandwatch.com/.

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Published by Dana Johnson

Hi, my name is Dana and I help teach the value of budgeting & saving early on in life so you can achieve your financial goals.

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