Interview - In Practice
Most people are nervous and feel under pressure during an interview. As a result, they can easily come across as a little quieter or more insecure than they actually are. Good preparation is important if you are to present yourself as authentically and as well as possible despite your nerves. We have prepared some tips for you to optimally prepare yourself and present yourself convincingly during the interview.
Your interviewer will notice whether you have prepared for the interview or not. Furthermore, good preparation takes away some of the nervousness before an interview and helps you feel more confident. In short: It is worthwhile to think about the procedure, content and your behaviour during the interview in advance. Below you will find a couple things to compile in preparation:
- What is the current state of the industry? And what are your further thoughts on this? Try to keep yourself up to date with daily newspapers or sector-specific magazines. This will enable you to give in-depth and well-founded answers to questions about the industry. If you cannot answer questions that could be easily solved with little research, this will probably earn you minus points.
- Think about which parts of your CV or cover letter you would like to address or which you would like to emphasise. Also, read through the documents you have submitted before the interview so that you know what you have written and can refer to it during the interview.
- Also work on your charisma and the effect you have on others. In this context, ask your colleagues how you could use your facial expressions and gestures more consciously and effectively to emphasise your statements.
There are a number of mistakes you should watch out for in an interview. It is therefore worthwhile to think about what should be avoided or what the appropriate reactions are in certain situations. Below you will find a list of appropriate behaviour, divided into the respective interview sections (more on the individual interview sections can be found here):
- Show up on time
- Be genuine
- Convey a positive attitude (smile, maintain eye contact, use a friendly voice or tone of voice, put aside nervousness as much as possible)
- Show interest (ask questions and take notes)
Before the interview:
- Make yourself noticeable without over doing it (for example, confident handshake - but don't squeeze too hard; firm voice - but don't shout)
- Keep an upright, straight and confident posture
- Introduce yourself with your full name and memorise the names of the interviewers. If you do not understand your interviewer's name, ask them politely to repeat it.
- Let the other person take the lead. (Only when the interviewer offers you their hand in greeting, do you extend your own. Do not sit down until the interviewer asks you to do so.)
- Keep an appropriate distance from the interviewer. One and a half to two arm lengths is usually appropriate.
- You may accept an offered drink without hesitation (as long as it is non-alcoholic). If alcoholic drinks or cigarettes are offered, you should rather politely decline.
During the interview:
- During the interview, you should listen actively and contribute at least half of the conversation. After all, you want to be at your best. The more you talk, the better your counterpart can get to know you. However, make sure you keep a healthy balance. Too much talking can seem intrusive to the other person. Always let the interviewer finish speaking. If they talk a lot, this is no problem - you can still be convincing with well-targeted questions and quality contributions
- When asked a question, you should usually answer. Rather than evading the question, give clear and concise answers. If necessary, take a little longer to think about your response. If a question is not quite clear or if you have not understood something, ask politely for clarification.
- Pay attention to the details of verbal communication. This includes maintaining a speaking pace that the listener can comfortably follow. You should also remain objective and keep your emotions in check. Depending on the position you are applying for, you may need to use certain vocabulary. Try to avoid colloquial expressions and expletives whenever possible.
- Avoid empty phrases or filler words. Use the indicative mood where possible and be careful to use unambiguous language.
- Always keep your own body language and facial expressions in mind. Crossed arms or an evasive look can convey insecurity or a defensiveness. Instead, use open and inviting gestures. Sit fully in your chair and make sure both your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Sitting with your legs wide apart is a no-go! Make sure you keep your hands as still as possible and use them deliberately to emphasise your points. However, make sure you do not wave your hands around wildly. Try to relax and remain calm even when asked critical questions.
- Try to make use of the chameleon effect! This is when you imitate the body language of the person you are talking to. This gives the other person the feeling that you emphasise with them, creating a subconscious sense of solidarity. But be careful not to overdo it, which could lead to the opposite effect.
After the interview:
- After the interview, you should thank everyone present. Use this opportunity to politely reiterate your interest in the job. When making your farewells, address each person by name.
- Your interview may be conducted via telephone or online meeting.
- Telephone interviews can be prearranged or may occur unannounced. If you have an arranged telephone interview, you should find out how long the interview will take and who will be present. Then, organise yourself accordingly. If you are called unannounced, you should still find out at the start how long the interview will take. If you receive the call at an inconvenient moment, you can directly ask whether the call can be postponed and thus avoid having to end the call early. If you are unable to pick up the phone, it is best to call back at the next available opportunity. To appear calmer during telephone interviews, it is advisable to sit up straight and breathe calmly. This will make your voice calmer and you will come across as more confident to the interviewer. It is also important to speak clearly and distinctly, as words can often become garbled or unclear over telephone.
- The date for an online meeting is generally defined in advance, therefore giving you plenty of opportunity to prepare. Make sure you can log in, and that your audio and camera work. It’s best to test these features by having someone help you. Further, make sure that the background is tidy and professional and that you are in a quiet environment. Also, familiarise yourself in advance with the conference tool to be used. This way you can ensure that you arrive on time and avoid any technical mishaps. During the actual interview, you should of course make sure that you look neat and dress appropriately. The same applies to gestures and facial expressions as for face-to-face interviews: sit up straight, let the other person talk, listen carefully, smile. Eye contact is difficult to maintain online. Therefore, try to look directly into the camera as often as possible. This way, it will seem to the other person as if you are looking at them instead of at the bottom of the screen. Always be authentic online and try to show empathy. A self-confident charisma and a certain goal orientation should also be conveyed from your computer.