December 28, 2010

Surviving a job interview

So, you made the perfect CV and they called you to come over for an interview. What now?

I've seen so many people stressing out during a job interview, but by changing your mindset a little bit you can be so much more relaxed and make a far better impression. The key factor here is that an interview always works in 2 directions.


Again, the foremost important thing to remember is that an interview always works in 2 directions. You are being evaluated, but to be sure there is really a match you must evaluate them at the same time! To be able to say if the job they offer is really what you want and you really want to work there, you have to know what you want of course. This is an exercise you actually have to do prior to writing your CV, so you can steer them early on by letting them know what your career objective is and by implicitly stressing parts of your past experience you liked most and would like to build upon. If they call you now for an interview, you are pretty sure they think there is a match. Up to you to find out if it is really an interesting one.

So, you've let them know what you want and what you're worth in your CV and if applicable in your application form, but to evaluate them, you have to do your homework too. 

Do not only look on their website for background, but look also for subsidiary companies, companies they work closely with, etc... Google is your friend here. Read about the company history, where they come from and what they do now. Are there a lot of jobopenings (is the company growing or mainly replacing people)? Did they have any recent press releases? Are people blogging about them? Are they on twitter/facebook? Are there employees on LinkedIn? Do the employees you find on LinkedIn work for a short or long time for them? What about recommendations? And so on...

The more you know, the better you are armed for the interview, because going to an interview is like going to a battle and you have to win the battle to get the job. Being well informed is also better against stress, because you'll be more relaxed and you'll feel more as 'an equal' to the person(s) in front of you. Stress may leave a bad impression, especially if you are applying for a stressful job. If you have a hard time hiding those sweaty armpits, there are some efficient products against that, like Axitrans (

So far the preparations. 

The interview

Before I forget, let me repeat it again: an interview always works in 2 directions!

First of all, make sure you are on time or have a phone number to call them if you happen to be late for some reason. If they offer you something to drink, always ask for water. It helps better than coffee against a dry mouth, you can also sip a little bit during the interview to buy some time when you can not answer immediately and nobody minds if you don't empty it before the end of the interview.

When you carry a briefcase or backpack, put them against the wall, where you can not stumble over it by accident. If you need a pen and paper to take notes, take it out at the beginning of the interview.

Two things may happen now. Or they start talking about the job opening and explain more about the job and/or company or they ask you to elaborate more on your working experience mentioned in your CV. Either way, you can steer the interview a little bit. In the former case, you'll have to listen very well to adapt the answers you'll have to give in the second part of the interview and in the latter case you can elaborate on the things you like most and they will start asking more specific questions along the way. Talk with passion, even if you want to change jobs because you are not motivated anymore, talk about the good things and the things you liked about it. Enthusiasm sells!

A lot of applicants are afraid to ask questions, don't be! During the time you elaborate on your own CV, ask also how they do things within their company. Ask how they work and match your own experience on that. In the beginning, you might have to guess or try different approaches. For example " ...<talk about your experience>... I don't know if you are doing similar? <then pause >" or " ...<talk about your experience>... You can do that in another way also ...<talk about the second way where you have less experience with>... I don't know which way you are working here? <then pause>".

While they explain the job offer and company, try to gently interrupt with questions like "How big is the team? Who will I be working with? What is their experience? To whom am I responsible? If it is an existing position, why has the previous person left the post? If it is a new position, why is it created? Are there any trainings I can follow? When would the selected candidate be able to start? Are there many candidates? ..."

Remember, an interview always works in 2 directions!

I deliberately did not talk about typical interview questions you might get or about psychometric tests. On both you should just be honest and don't prepare too much. It is not really a test you are doing here, it is merely checking if you think as they do. If you try to manipulate this part, you probably won't be very happy in your job. In fact, this part should be the easiest part on your side, because no matter what the result is, you always win. Again, if there is no match, you do not want to work there.

Remember these things when you come for an interview with us ;-)

Good luck!

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