How to prepare for a job interview


Dear job seeker, congratulations! You have been invited to a job interview! As a recruitment consultant, I am happy to share my advice on how to prepare for your interview – what to wear, what to ask and how to answer. Here are a few tips and tricks for attending an interview in the post-pandemic world: 

Research the company 

Now that you have made it through the initial screenings, the company wants to meet you! Here is a list of things you should do:

  • Review the job description and try to understand exactly what is required of you.
  • Go through the website, especially the about us page. Try to understand the company culture and its core values and prepare questions should they arise.
  • Visit the company’s social media to get a better feel for the culture and who your colleagues might be. You could also use this opportunity to visit your interviewer’s profile and find out more about them.
  • Prepare answers to the more typical interview questions, especially the “tell me about yourself question.”
  • Put together an outfit.

What to wear to a job interview (on and offline)

Most often, the automatic answer to this is “Formal!” but it’s really never that cut and dry. Before you decide what to wear to your job interview, do some research, look at the team photos posted on the company’s website and social media. Read up on their company culture, find out if this company is formal, smart-casual or casual.

  • For formal looks, that is easy –  a blazer, dress trousers (or skirt) and a button-up shirt will do.
  • Smart-casual looks do not mean ripped jeans and a blazer, they mean looks that can be dressed up or down. For example with the right shoes, jeans, and a button-up shirt could go from chill to smart. 
  • Casual looks are the easiest to accomplish, wear what you like but make it decent.
  • The dress code is a little more difficult to determine for an online interview. It is easy to go overboard and appear too formal. However, a clean t-shirt, button-up shirt or sweater would be perfect. And wear decent trousers! You never know what might happen and you need to stand up. 

The most common interview questions and how to answer them

We cannot stress enough that answering a question with sarcasm or condescension is a very quick way to make your interviewer uncomfortable. Remember that the person in front of you might not share the same attitude or humour that you do, so answer questions in a respectful manner.  It is possible to disagree with a question or the way a question is asked while maintaining respect for the interviewer. Here are some typical interview questions, why they are asked, how to answer them, and some examples.

Could you tell me about yourself?

This question is a cliché and there is no right answer, yet, interviewers still ask. For the discerning interviewer, the choice of what to say is an insight into the candidate’s character.

This is a chance to give your 5-minute elevator pitch. Answer this question by giving a highlight about your career path and where you are hoping to go. You can also talk about your soft skills.

  • “I am a recruitment consultant with one year of experience. I am originally from Little Hangleton, and I spend my free-time surfing and inventing recipes.”

Why do you want to work here?

Many memes and blog posts have said “because I want to make money.” While that is true, the interviewer is asking you about why the city, why the company, why the department?

To answer this question, think back to what you saw in the job description, the company website and social media, your hopes and dreams, and positive reviews. Think about the attributes that made you think, “wow, this would be nice” and give your response. 

  • “On your website, I noticed that employee work-life balance is a priority for you, this is also particularly important to me. It would give me the opportunity to explore Hawaii and learn more about the local cuisine”
  • “Even during my previous employment, I have been following your company on social media and found your presence very intriguing.”
  • “Even though I liked my previous position, I always knew that I wanted to further my career in the music industry. This company stood out very positively amongst your competition during my research.”

What did you like/dislike about your last job?

Be honest. This question is not for you to dish some dirt on your last job, rather, it is a way to further emphasize why you applied and what kind of environment would help you thrive. 

Think about what helped you improve as a professional, and what helped you maintain good production rates.

  • “I really enjoyed the creative room that my managers afforded, as long as I met the deadline, I was free to explore different aspects of my job.”
  • “The company culture was very casual, yet professional and I enjoyed having had the opportunity to network on various different events as a company representative.”

or, in case your previous employment was not very pleasant.

  • “I loved the company, the team, etc. but I was ready for a bigger challenge.”
  • “My previous employer was not able to offer me any opportunities to grow within the company.”

What are your main weaknesses?

It is not a trick question, we promise. The interviewer is asking you this to determine how your weaknesses would complement the role, how self-aware you are and how you have been working on yourself.

  • “I enjoy a heavy workload and sometimes forget to ask for help. I have been working on this by sharing with my teammates what I am working on and what my challenges are. Usually, they provide solutions I never thought of!”
  • “I sometimes have trouble prioritising my tasks, but have had a great collaboration with my previous manager, who was so kind as to help me set priorities for each week.”
  • “As I am quite introverted, I used to have trouble integrating into teams on a personal level, but team bonding activities and gatherings after work really help me break the ice!”

Why should we hire you?

In other words, what do you bring to the table? The interviewer wants to know how well you have understood the job description and how you plan to approach it. 

To answer this, think about the job description, think about your skills, think about your personality and finally your experience. This is the moment where all of them come together. Try to frame your answer to match what kind of candidate the company is seeking while remaining honest. 

  • “I am a team player and I enjoy it when others are having a good time. Since this is important to me, I am keen on taking the initiative to organize different activities, and I would so so enthusiastically and reliably.”
  • “I believe the soft skills I have gained in my previous industry, due to its fast-paced and KPI-driven nature, will help me to successfully meet goals and deadlines while maintaining a high level of quality.”
  • “The contributions I could bring to this department due to my rich knowledge in PPC Marketing specifically, will elevate future marketing campaigns.”

Where do you see yourself in x years’ time?

As nice as it would be if you would stay with the company forever, interviewers are aware that that might not be the case. They want to know if they can offer you what you are seeking, they want to know how big your ambition is.

Be honest, be realistic, and frame this answer with “I want,” “I hope.” 

  • “I hope to develop my skills, make the most of my abilities and potential to contribute to the success of the company”
  • “I want to specialize in this area on my way to becoming Human Resource Manager.” 

Remember, the interviewer is not trying to play mind games with you. They want to know what motivates you and if you would be a good addition to their company’s growth, and if they can offer you what you seek and have you stay with them as a satisfied employee. Do not be afraid to pause before you answer, ask for clarification, and ask for time to think. 

Questions to ask at the end of a job interview

At the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask questions to the hiring manager about the company and the job.  Don’t forget, you are also interviewing the company and figuring out whether they are the right match for you! If you did your research correctly, and you still have questions that are unanswered, ask them now. 

Here are some relevant questions you could ask:

  • What does a day at my job look like?
  • What collaboration with colleagues is required in this role?
  • How do you see me growing/changing in the company in the next 5 years?
  • Is there a typical career path for someone in my role in this company?
  • What do you think would help me be successful in this position?
  • Why is this position open?
  • How have you onboarded candidates working remotely?
  • How have you maintained a connection with the team when working remotely?
  • What is the communication style like here?
  • How is performance reviewed and how often?

And if you really do not have any questions, you do not have to ask any but confirming what the next steps in the process are, is a really effective way to close. 

Are you still looking for a job in the Netherlands?

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