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Job interview tips from a recruiter

01 May 2020 by National Bank
Prepare for a job interview

You followed our advice on how to stand out during your phone interview and you've landed a job interview? Congratulations! But, the real test is yet to come. Luckily, we've done some research for you and found some tips to help you ace your job interview.

What better way to have a successful interview than to seek the advice of an expert? When we asked what THE most important thing was before an interview, Joséphine Itela, Talent Acquisition Advisor at National Bank, didn't hesitate for a second. "Preparation! As soon as your interview is confirmed, you should become a detective. Do your research."

Be well informed

As with many things in life, the more you prepare in advance, the more likely you are to succeed. Don't wait until the day before the interview to start preparing. Begin a few days early so that you have enough time to get comfortable with your sales pitch. You probably already know a bit about the company in question, but now's the time to learn more about its corporate culture and vision, and about the specific department where you'll potentially be working. If you know someone who already works there, ask them questions. There are no bad questions. They'll be able to give you an accurate picture of your expectations and the employer's.

The company's website will give you a good idea of its values, expertise and past projects. However, don't learn each section by heart to spout them at the interview. We all learned in high school and university that copying and pasting information is never a good idea. "What we find interesting—or even impressive—is when a candidate mentions something that one of our executives has said in the media or when they share consumer feedback about our industry or products," said the recruiter.

You might be worried about the notifications that LinkedIn users receive when you consult their page, but it's an excellent platform for finding useful information. Take a look at the pages of your potential colleagues and managers to see how your professional background compares. You won't look like a stalker, but like someone who's well prepared. When you try to sell yourself in an interview, some qualities help you stand out more than others.

Highlight your best qualities

Whether you're on a date or in an interview, you have to charm the person on the other side of the table. Your résumé has to show your best side, just like the photos you choose for a dating app. Make sure you've properly reviewed your résumé before the interview so that you can easily refer to it to support your candidacy. Focus on what's relevant and recent. Build on the experience that will help you perform well in the position you're going for.

Our expert advises against recounting your entire career. "There's no need to go back 20 years. It doesn't help to talk about your student jobs if they didn't give you any expertise or skills relevant to the vacant position." Summarize the essential and keep it short. It's no surprise that recruiters don't like to waste their time. "If it's not related to the position, forget about it."

What makes a difference is talking about projects you carried out and of which you're especially proud. It's a good way to emphasize your commitment and passion. Recruiters are aware of this and will ask questions on the subject. You'll most likely be asked about your ability to overcome adversity. Difficulties you had to deal with, reasons why you quit your past jobs and your areas for improvement are all topics that could be broached. Be honest and use the opportunity to show what you've learned. It's all in the way you present your experience and bring out the positive. Remember that practice makes perfect. Rehearse with someone by listing some of your best arguments. You could even get your cat to play the role of the recruiter!

Make a good impression

"You only have one chance to make a good impression," as the saying goes. It also applies to your job interview. When we asked Joséphine about this, she insisted on one specific thing: "In the 21st century, the only reason to arrive late to an interview is if there was a life-threatening emergency or one beyond your control. Tardiness shows a blatant lack of preparation and rigour. Today's technology allows us to plan our itinerary in advance. Don't even try to blame it on public transport or the labyrinth of corridors in the building where the meeting takes place." Also, would you arrive sweaty to a first date? No. Same goes for a job interview.

Once you've arrived—on time—to your interview, the first few seconds in front of your interviewer are critical. We sometimes forget, but knowing how to present ourselves is a true art! What does our specialist find most important? "Smile, make eye contact and give a firm handshake." Remember that what you wear makes an impact, so dress according to the company's style. Although casual attire is now the norm in most companies, you might want to leave your ripped jeans for that first date. When in doubt, it's better to be overdressed than underdressed. (If you decide on a "just got out of bed" hairstyle, make sure it's well done.) Once the interview has started, just be yourself. Remember that it takes all kinds; being introverted isn't a flaw and it's normal to be nervous. Recruiters have all once been in your shoes and aren't there to trick or deceive you or scare you away. "We've chosen this career because we like human contact. Most recruiters break the ice and try to make you comfortable as soon as you arrive." Keep in mind that the people you meet often have a busy schedule. Try to answer all interview questions in a straightforward and factual way. Avoid anecdotes, unless it's in connection with the position. Finally, don't use overly familiar language and make sure you don't make one of these 10 common non-verbal mistakes.

What to bring?

You might be surprised to hear this, but our expert does not recommend printing anything in advance, since "everything is digital these days. I already have your résumé, cover letter and portfolio on my laptop." However, she recommends having the contact information for two references on hand. You may be asked for them after the interview to continue the process. You'll also want to bring two pieces of ID. You may need them for security purposes to access the building or to fill in a form related to your application.

However, the most important thing to bring is a positive attitude. "The behavioural aspect is increasingly valued and evaluated in companies, so it's important to show that you have strong people skills as they're harder to acquire than technical expertise," Joséphine explained.

Adequate follow up

The recruiter or manager that you meet should inform you of the next steps and when to expect an answer. If they don't tell you, don't hesitate to ask. You can even offer to get in touch with them in the coming days. If you're waiting on an answer that's not coming, you can reiterate your interest in the position and ask for an update on the hiring process. We suggest that you send an email instead of calling. It will give the recruiter time to get the right information from the manager concerned before answering you. In any case, you can send a brief thank-you message after your interview as a follow-up with the recruiter.

If we met with you in person but you aren't selected, you should expect a phone call with the news. Relevant feedback can help you improve for future opportunities. Our expert insists that you mustn't take it personally if an interview doesn't lead to a job, as "it can happen to anyone. There are many factors that are taken into account. Sometimes, second place means that you'll be contacted as soon as a great opportunity corresponding to your profile arises."

Just remember that as long as you stay true to yourself, give it your all and stay positive from beginning to end, you won't have any regrets.

Good luck!

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