RCA Flag
RCA Flag
Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
RCA Flag

ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

Library of Articles

Comments Print E-mail

ImageIn a challenging job market, having great interview skills will make all the difference.

If you dread the thought of them, beat the interview blues by following these simple steps to getting that great job!

1. Do Your Homework

There is simply no short-cut when it comes to making the right impact at interview. You need to take time to research the company that you are about to meet. Before you arrive for your meeting, you should have a good understanding of what the business does, who its key clients are and some idea of the market in which it is operating.

Start with a detailed look at the company’s website and search the internet for recent news about the company and its business performance. Your objective is to find a company that is on the way up, not on the way down!

Doing your research will help you find information that will help you decide whether you are interested in the company as well as offering you important data that you can refer to during the interview.

2. Read your CV!

You may think you know all about yourself but you should also prepare by reading through your CV or the application form that you sent in. This will remind you of what you said so that you remain consistent in your responses.

Refresh your mind about the companies that you have worked for and projects and other achievements that you cite on your CV. There’s no point listing your successes if you can’t remember the details when you are asked!

3. Look the Part

How you look will have a much more immediate impact on an interviewer than what you say. Research shows that 55% of what we feel about a person is based on their appearance and on the non-verbal communication that receive from them.

An interviewer will be assessing not just your technical skills and experience but also how well you are likely to represent the firm and, as the saying goes, ‘clothes maketh the man’.

Even if the organisation is one where casual clothes are the norm, when it comes to an interview you should aim to look smart and professional. Keep an eye on the colours you choose to wear and stick to clothes and jewellery that are clean, well-tailored and understated. You want the interviewer to focus on you and not to be distracted by what you are wearing.

Dress for the job you want and you will have a far better chance of convincing someone that, given the opportunity, you will be capable of delivering.

4. Mind your Language

Bearing in mind that body language (i.e. non-verbal communication) has such a big impact in terms of how we are perceived, try and stay aware of how what your body is saying.ImageEven if you don’t feel it, appear confident from the first interaction with your interviewer. A friendly and professional greeting coupled with a firm handshake will set the tone for a positive encounter.

Sit in a way that shows you feel comfortable and, if possible, aim to ‘mirror’ the position of the interviewer. Control any urges to play with your hair or tap a pen while you are speaking and try and maintain good eye contact and a measured tone.

Speak clearly and slow your pace down if you tend to speak quickly (particularly if you have a foreign accent) so that you can make yourself understand. Show your enthusiasm for the company and the job – offers are more likely to be made to people who demonstrate that they are hungry for the opportunity.

Keep your answers brief and concise. Stick to the point when answering questions – and don’t ramble. Unless you are asked to give more details, limit your answers to two to three minutes per question. Practice by timing yourself to see how long it takes you to fully answer a question.

Unless you’re interviewing for another role in your company or department and you are absolutely sure that everyone understands what you mean, avoid jargon. It stops you being understood and is an irritant to an interviewer.

5. Spell out your Successes

Having good body language is no substitute if your verbal skills are lacking - think about why the company is hiring for the role. Your research and a thorough analysis of the job vacancy will have told you which skills and experience the organisation is looking for.

With that in mind, your job at the interview is to comfortably and confidently articulate your strengths. Explain how your strengths relate to the job and to the company’s or department’s goals and how they might benefit this employer. Find ways to keep repeating your strengths so they will be remembered and support this with quantifiable accomplishments so that they are more likely be believed.

Having good body language is no substitute if your verbal skills are lacking - think about why the company is hiring for the role.

Many organisations will interview based on competencies – the skills and behaviour needed for a job, rather than going through your specific experience. This approach needs you to answer answers based upon your actual experience rather than your theoretical opinions. By thinking about the competencies or skills needed for the job you are after, you can prepare specific examples of past experiences which indicate how you have demonstrated the behaviour or used the skill.

Prepare a number of ‘success stories’ that you can use to demonstrate a range of competencies. It can also help to make a list of your skills and key assets and to identify from past jobs one or two instances when you used those skills successfully.

6. Ask the Right Questions

Interviews are a two-way street and you should use the opportunity to ask questions about the job on offer and about the company.

The current economic climate may be creating new challenges for the company and you should be aware of and comfortable about any changes in direction, market or service lines that may be coming up.

Good questions need advance planning and, in the same way you should plan on how to answer questions, develop some specific questions that you want to ask and look for opportunities to ask them during the interview.

Conventional wisdom would always recommend that you stay away from asking about salary and benefits until an offer is on the table. If the interviewer tries to press you on your salary expectations, focus instead on talking about the opportunities that you believe the job will offer you.

Help the interviewer to maintain a conversational flow by creating a dialogue instead of a monologue from either party. Occasionally use feedback questions at the end of your answers and let the tone of your voice create a conversational interchange between you and the interviewer.

7. Follow up!

Having made the effort to impress, don’t forget to follow up in a professional way. If you have been asked for any additional information, make a note and do it immediately.

Whenever possible, prepare and send a brief, concise thank you e-mail or letter. Re-state your skills and stress what you can do for the company. In a tight contest between good candidates, the candidate that appears the most enthusiastic about the job is more likely to be selected.

Help the interviewer to maintain a conversational flow by creating a dialogue instead of a monologue from either party.

To help you in future interviews, as soon as possible after an interview make some brief notes for yourself about your performance (and ask for feedback from the recruiter later if you were not successful).

Think about your attitude and the way you answered the questions. Did you ask questions to get the information you needed? What might you do differently next time? No interview is wasted if you use the opportunity to learn and to improve the skills that will help you get the job that you really want.

Welcome to the new, upgraded ReConnect Africa website.
Please help us provide you with information relevant to your needs by completing the fields below (just this once!)