In this article, we will discuss the Job Interview Preparation Checklist, Tips, and cover interview questions. Whoever is invited to an interview has already overcome the most difficult hurdle: the application documents have convinced, as have the professional qualifications. Congratulation! You are in round 2. However, the job is not yet in your pocket. You still have to convince the HR decision-maker (s) personally. We will show you how to do this as well as practical tips for all phases of the interview …
- 1 Job interview Checklist: What really interests personnel managers in the interview
- 2 Interview Checklist: How to convince in every phase
- 2.1 Interview phase 1: Score points with small talk
- 2.2 Interview phase 2 and 3: self-presentation and getting to know each other
- 2.3 Interview phase 4: Ask questions.
- 2.4 You should never ask these questions:
- 2.5 Interview phase 5: completion and follow-up
Job interview Checklist: What really interests personnel managers in the interview
Many applicants are afraid of the job interview. After all, it’s about your dream job and your future salary. Accordingly, there is great concern about saying something stupid or wrong in conversation.
We want to take away your worry. If you prepare yourself well for the interview – for example, with the help of our guides – nothing can happen. With all the many job interview questions, stress questions, or trick questions that HR managers can ask, it is never about right or wrong. It’s about your personality.
From a technical point of view you have already convinced, now you want to get a personal picture of yourself: how you work, whether you fit into the team; how you react under stress; why you want to work here and what goals you have. No matter what questions HR managers ask: In the end, it’s always about …
This is less about training or a university degree, strengths, or weaknesses. Rather, interviewers are interested in so-called soft skills. So working methods, willingness to learn, passion (for the job) and social skills. In short: you want to make sure that you are up to all the challenges of the job.
- Team spirit
We know: lateral thinkers and creative people are the humus on which innovations thrive. That’s why every company needs it. In fact, HR managers often pay attention to conformity. Your job opportunities increase significantly, the more you teach this fitting. The extent to which an applicant pretends or remains as authentic as possible depends on how urgently he or she needs the job.
- Added value
Do you have a list of successes that suggest that you will also bring sales, savings or added value to the employer? Ultimately, every hiring is about a simple calculation: they pay you a salary X and hope that your performance will generate an added value of Y. At the time, this is pure speculation, but the more convincingly you can show that Y is greater than X, the sooner you will be hired. So whoever can point to comparable successes from his previous career accumulates plus points.
And last but not least, HR managers also think about whether the attitude could later (negatively) fall back on them. After all, it’s about their job and their reputation. That’s why so few experiments dare. The more convincing your arguments are and the more guarantees your experience and skills offer, the more credible your appearance and appearance, the better your chances.
In the following, we will show you how you can do this – step by step and phase by phase.
Interview Checklist: How to convince in every phase
Whether we find someone likable or trust them is often decided in seconds. Sometimes a single characteristic, a single word, a simple impression that is bad for the HR manager is enough – and the interview is overturned.
This is a typical perception error. But one with a devastating effect: the so-called horn effect now outshines many other positive properties.
So that this does not happen to you, it is important to dose your body language in the interview, but also your words.
The art is to find the right balance – between perfect self-presentation and a bit of speculation. Between factual precision and personal insight. And in all phases of the interview.
In fact, almost all interviews take place in five typical phases of the conversation :
The order can of course vary. You will encounter the individual blocks again and again. We therefore follow this process and show you in turn, how you pass the individual phases.
Interview phase 1: Score points with small talk
Every interview begins with getting to know each other personally. Introduce yourself, shake hands (see instructions below), ask about the journey, chat and observe and assess each other.
This small talk at the beginning of the interview is an important social interaction. It should break the ice, create an atmosphere, reduce the excitement of the applicants. A good thing, actually. But as innocent as this chatting phase seems, it is just as little.
Typically, psychologists distinguish between the approach of strangers in three phases of behavior, which are also an expression of increasing sympathy :
The partner’s body language is analyzed and initially only a maximum of 50 percent is reflected by their own.
Body language, gestures, facial expressions, language are increasingly synchronized.
Almost complete symmetry – both partners refer to each other through their behavior each time.
The small talk and warm-up at the beginning of the interview is therefore also referred to as the rapport-forming phase. Relevant information is not yet being exchanged. The content of the conversation falls into the category: irrelevant.
But this is exactly where the danger starts or lies: candidates often underestimate these first five minutes. A study by Brian Swider from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Brad Harris at Texas Christian University came to the conclusion: HR managers assess in this first phase how applicants will work later in the job. Not infrequently, the decision for or against the candidate is made. The result is consistent with research by Murray Barrick, a management professor at Texas University. He found that no matter how structured an interview is, it is often decided at the beginning whether the candidate will get the job or not.
You can get angry about it. But it doesn’t change the fact that there are enormous people in job interviews. The most sophisticated conversation processes and questioning techniques cannot prevent our gut feeling from deciding and the mind ultimately looking for a plausible (apparently rational) justification, which the “wavelength” and “chemistry” have already decided in the first few minutes.
So please don’t get angry, use it for yourself. You now know how important the first impression is. Practice your appearance accordingly with acquaintances, friends or a coach. The central question is: How do I work on you: open, friendly and confident?
Be careful with exaggerations and for granted.
Every application is – as the name suggests – an advertising event in its own right . So you can and should stir the drum a bit. Just don’t overdo it. Otherwise the situation will change. What sounded convincing just now seems hollow, vain, or untrue.
The first mistake is made primarily by young professionals. Your resume is still thin. Some try to make up for this with many words. They then say, for example, that they are “resilient”, “creative”, “able to work in a team”, “highly motivated” or “on time”. Still a mistake! Because all of these are a matter of course.
If you turn the statement around, it becomes clear: “I am applying here, but I am unable to work in a team, hardly resilient, unpunctual and unmotivated …” Of course, the likelihood of hiring someone like this is close to zero. But the example also shows that it goes without saying that nobody is convinced.
Even more: those who emphasize it nourish the suspicion that there is nothing else.
Dyeing works of the type have an even more negative effect: “My only weakness is that I work too much.” Whoever believes it …
The group of dubious exaggerations also includes statements such as:
- I can do that perfectly.
- Nobody offers you more experience in this area.
- My success speaks for itself.
- Besides, I can do this … and this … and this …
- I do everything for you.
- This is my absolute dream job.
Most of these statements are simply too slippery to be true. Anyone who does everything (and says) just to get the job is either an opportunist or unscrupulous. Neither of these characteristics of a dream colleague.
The same applies to excuses one creates ( “That wasn’t my fault …” ) or exaggerated euphoria. In an interview it is like love : If you push yourself too hard, you become uninteresting and look needy. So let the HR manager advertise something for you. Afterwards he is all the more satisfied with his yield.
Interview phase 2 and 3: self-presentation and getting to know each other
For personnel decision-makers, the so-called self – presentation is the chance to experience and observe you live. Some also check whether the candidate has cheated on his / her CV. Those who have previously optimized their application portfolio vigorously must deliver now.
At the same time, HR managers are interested in this extended phase of getting to know whether you can make a connection to the company and the advertised position. So to keep the gap between the job profile and your own competences small.
You are usually asked many questions about this. These interview questions are roughly on a par with a toothache on the applicants’ popularity scale. The best tip for this: Always stay calm and never let yourself be confused.
To show you in a practical way how to do this, we have put together a few typical questions and answers :
- What’s your biggest weakness?
Applicants are happy to use the question to address a supposed weakness, which is a strength. Error! Personnel see through this spectacle and follow up. Rather be honest and show how you work on a recognized weakness. For example: In discussions, it is sometimes difficult for me to assert myself. But I’m working to make my opinion clearer.
- You changed jobs several times. Why should we hire them?
Career changes are not uncommon today. Many HR managers still respond to candidates. Do not react to this uncertainly or guiltily. Instead, use examples to explain why these previous positions qualify you for the current job. In short: take up the question of the past, but turn your gaze back to the future.
- Would you describe yourself as stubborn or flexible?
Common trick question! Because, depending on the situation, both properties can be desirable or harmful. The answer to such suggestive alternative questions should therefore, always cover both sides: I find it difficult to find myself in one of the two categories. Of course, I can express my opinion and be stubborn when I defend an idea that I think is right. On the other hand, I also find consensus and compromises important if they lead to the best possible result.
- If you had to choose someone for this job, what would you look out for?
This question contains two points: Which skills do you consider relevant for the job? And do you have these qualifications yourself? Depending on the position, you should concentrate on two or three key qualifications when answering the question: I think that creativity and problem-solving skills are crucial for the job, because … That’s exactly why I applied because … who now still has the job description with a garnished with appropriate (previous) experience, increases his chances enormously.
- How is this job different from others you have applied for?
A nasty question. Who would like to tell you about other applications in the job interview? However, it is not a good idea to say that you only applied for this one job. HR personnel knows that this is a lie. So limit yourself to a short and neutral answer and continue to explain why you are drawn to this very employer.
You may already recognize the concept behind the answers and reactions in the interview . Basically:
Take your time. Never let many (critical) questions rush you. You can take time to consider every interview. So you not only lower your blood pressure. You will also find the wiser answer. On top of that, it looks more deliberate. Quiet is the best strategy in an interview.
Ask for. Applicants too rarely take the opportunity to ask questions in an interview. Especially if they didn’t understand the question. The fear is too great that this is interpreted as a lack of attention or perception. Please don’t do this: hook up and ask back. Questions of understanding of the type “I am not sure whether I understood your question correctly, did you mean …?” Is not a shame, on the contrary: they demonstrate their genuine interest.
Get involved. Some questions are bizarre to absurd. This is especially true for stress interviews. The aim is to lure the applicant out of the comfort zone and look behind his facade. Of course, you don’t have to put up with everything, but those who see the whole thing in a sporty manner and respond to the questions with confidence and self-confidence score more in the interview than any critic.
Prepare relevant anecdotes. Spontaneity is good when you can. Everyone else should prepare: think about the questions that may come up – along with amusing and relevant examples and anecdotes from your previous CV. Compress them into an essential extract. So short, crisp answers. Authentic examples are more convincing than self-statements.
Interview phase 4: Ask questions.
Whenever a recruiter offers you the opportunity to ask questions yourself (so-called queries ), you should on no account be silent or even shake your head: please have your own questions – always! For two reasons:
- This is the best chance to learn more about the company, your future job, the boss, his requirements and colleagues.
- This is a test . He should tap your real interest in the job and check how intensively you have prepared for the interview. Even an inexperienced HR specialist can tell from the depth and cleverness of the questions whether you have only studied the job advertisement or the company’s website (plural!) And relevant specialist articles.
The other reasons are:
You should never ask these questions:
There are things that are better left unsaid in the interview. That you really need the job, for example. There is no faster way to catapult yourself from the position of the talented specialist to the role of the supplicant.
The same also applies to some (stupid) questions that unfortunately don’t make an applicant look so smart or prepared. These include, for example:
What exactly is your company doing?
You want to show interest in the company. But what matters is that you are not prepared at all. It is your homework to find out about the company in advance, especially what it does. This is usually already on the website in the section “About us”. Whoever asks this question therefore immediately disqualifies himself.
Are you doing further research on my career?
Now. Seriously: Why do you ask if you tell everything worth knowing in the interview and have nothing to hide? Such a question can only lead to a counter-question: “What would we find out about you?” At the latest now the candidate is not trustworthy.
Why did you invite me?
The question is probably intended as a prelude to self-presentation (or as fishing for compliments ). But well-meant, is the little brother of nonsense. And in that case, it unfortunately looks like you didn’t expect it yourself – which in turn doesn’t necessarily fit a top talent. Your attitude has to be: If you are looking for THE candidate, you have to find YOU. Point.
When can I go on vacation at the earliest?
Mind you: you are in an interview, so you don’t have a job yet – and are already asking about vacation? Certainly, the question is fundamentally legitimate. You can also place them on the first day in your new job and in the HR department. But this is anything but motivated or willing to perform.
The question also falls into the same category: What things lead to you being dismissed ? It is not strategically farsighted to give someone the thought of firing you before they are hired. And those who are already worried about it may have Arges in mind.
Do you monitor the internet usage of service computers and mobile phones?
If you ask that, you can say right away that you manage your Facebook profile more during the day than your projects. It is also the case here: you don’t have the job in your pocket yet and are already thinking about what else you can do during working hours? That doesn’t exactly reveal a service provider.
What are my chances?
It is understandable that you want to know whether the job worked. Nevertheless, impatience in a job interview is a big minus.
First of all, the HR specialist cannot say anything about it because there are probably more candidates. Second, the question sounds anything but self-confident. You are again signaling uncertainty and doubts about your suitability. Better ask about the further course of the selection process. Or when you can expect an answer or can follow up at the earliest.
Interview phase 5: completion and follow-up
The end of the interview does not mean that there is nothing more you can do to increase the chances of getting the job. In addition to the preparation and implementation of the interview, the time after a job interview is the third important phase in order to convince recruiters, to reinforce the good impression or to correct an unfortunate wording.
These tips show you what you can do after the interview:
- Reflect on how the conversation went.
How satisfied are you with your answers? Could you convince the HR manager or would you like to clarify one point after the job interview? The reflection after the interview helps to learn for possible further conversations.
- Write a thank you letter.
A thank you letter can reinforce the positive impression you made in the interview. Thank you for the invitation to the interview; the time the HR specialist gave you and the opportunity to get to know the company better. At the same time, you can mention that the interview has once again reinforced your desire to work for the company and you look forward to hearing from the recruiter.
- Stay active in the job search.
The interview went well. The personnel manager has only expressed himself positively. And you have a good feeling all round? Good. But still, no reason to put your hands in your lap. As long as you don’t have a signed employment contract, you should continue your job search and apply for other jobs.