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Preparing for a job interview

By Memory Nguwi

THIS article will take you through all the steps you need to take to prepare for a job interview. I am sharing over 20 years of my work experience in mainstream human resources and HR consulting.

I have interviewed junior employees, executives and hundreds of chief executive officers.

I have been a board member for more than nine organisations, including listed companies and international organisations.

As a consultant for more than 15 years now, I get the opportunity to design interview questions and chair interview panels for senior staff.

That opportunity allowed me to interview directors and chief executive officers. It is this experience that I want to share with you as you prepare for your next job interview.

I will outline below a step-by-step process for you to follow as you prepare for a job interview.

  • Step 1 – Research about the company: At this stage, I assume that you have been given enough notice to attend a job interview. Under normal circumstances, you often get your notification for a job interview a week in advance. However, there are cases when such notice is too short. Whatever scenario you end up with, you can still follow these steps. It is embarrassing for you to go for a job interview without knowing what your target employer does and how they are generally doing on the market. The good thing about this age of technology is that you can get all this information with a click of a button. Go on the internet and research your target employer. They have invited you for a job interview, and you can do yourself a big favour and research them. You do not want to go to a job interview and fail to give basic information about the company should you be asked. Use the internet to Google the company. If it is a modern organisation, they probably have a website. Look at what is on the website and also what has been said about the company by other sources in the public domain. Check for their social media handles. Follow them if you can, and browse through past posts.What do they seem to emphasise in their posts? The other good thing about researching a company before you go for a job interview is that you will decide whether the company is the right fit for you when you collect sufficient information. There is no point in going for a job interview when the information you have gathered seems to indicate that the company is not a good fit for you from both a cultural perspective and a career perspective. As you dig into the company’s background, get an appreciation of the company’s vision, mission and values.  You are likely to contextualise your answers to their needs when you have this kind of background information on a company before a job interview.
  • Step 2 – Understand the job you are being interviewed for: Make sure you have a very clear understanding of the role you are being interviewed for. In the majority of cases, you respond to a detailed job advert with details on the job. Read and understand that job profile. Make your interpretation of what the duties mean. Check if these are duties you have done before. I would caution anyone attending any interview when they have not done 80% of the responsibilities listed on the job advert. Go through the duties one by one and put more details from your experience. How did you perform these duties in your previous roles?  How successful were you in carrying out those duties? When you feel you successfully executed those duties before your confidence goes up. Your answers in the job interview will exude the same confidence.  This is a core component of preparing for a job interview, never omit it.
  • Step 3 – Rehearse the job interview questions: You must rehearse the likely questions you may be asked in the job interview. You already know there are standard questions you are likely to be asked, start with those. Examples of job interview questions you are likely to be asked include; tell us about yourself. When you are not prepared, this will be a very complicated question for you. I have seen very senior people struggle with such a simple question. This question is not asking you about your life history. As you answer this question, give your profile experience but focus specifically on why your career experience is essential for this role. This question can be rephrased to read: “Why should we hire you?” The best way to answer this interview question is to focus on those facts and experiences that make you stand out against other candidates. Another question you are likely to be asked is: Why do you want to leave your current job? Do not focus on money issues on this question; highlight career opportunities being presented by this new opportunity.  Rehearse all the possible questions. Get someone in your circles to ask you questions as if you are in a formal interview. Get feedback from them and adjust where necessary. To be continued next week.
  • Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. —http://www.ipcconsultants.com/

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