You’ve finally got that job interview that you’ve been vying for.
How should you behave when you get there? What if you don’t have answers to all the questions? How do you make the right impression?
No matter how many years of work experience you have, it’s natural to have a million questions buzzing through your head. Here, some recruiters and managers share tips to help get you through that interview with flying colors.
1. Do Your Homework
The number one complaint that recruiters have is that people turn up for job interviews clueless about the company, its top officers, or the job. Even very senior people make this mistake.
“Understand the organization you are going to for an interview,” says Ramesh Vaswani, executive vice-chairman of computer accessory-maker Intex Technologies (India) Ltd.
Look up the names of the company’s top officers, like the chief executive and the chairman, and especially the person in charge of the department where you want to work. Study the company Web site. Google news articles on the company, and make a note of any recent acquisitions, new products launched, or new directions the company is taking. Where possible, read up on the company’s financial condition, and look at a recent annual report.
“If you can strategically drop some of these points [in conversation], that shows you’re very well read and clued in,” says E Balaji, head of Ma Foi Randstad, a human resource services company.
Ahead of the interview, think through the questions you might be asked about your current or past job, why you left your previous position, what you’re looking for in the new job, and what makes you so suitable for this position.
Don’t forget to prepare for this trick question that recruiters love to ask.
Write down your answers—that’ll help you remember them—and maybe even rehearse them aloud. You’ll be more confident at the actual interview.
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, politely. For instance, you can say: I’m afraid I don’t know, but I can get back to you on that. Trying to fake it usually doesn’t work because experienced interviewers can see through that.
3. Be Specific
When asked about a current or past job, interviewees “spend a lot of time talking about their organization,” says Mr. Vaswani. While it’s great if you have worked for a large or well-known company, what’s more important is what you did there.
“Talk about specific assignments you have handled,” he says. Instead of simply saying that you were the chief finance officer for your organization, talk about a target you helped achieve, such as raising millions of rupees of working capital.
4. Turn the Tables
Don’t be a passive interviewee. When you get the opportunity, ask questions. These can be about the company’s future plans, growth prospects, or about what is expected of you from the new job and what growth you can expect at the company.
These questions “convey that you’re seriously growth-oriented,” says Mr. Balaji.
Be careful, however, to not ask something that you could have found out on the company’s website.
5. Go Gentle on a Current or Past Employer
In general, you want to talk positively about your current or past employer. Badmouthing your previous employer could leave a bad impression on a potential new employer.
Find a neutral way to explain challenges you might have faced at the previous company, or reasons why your career growth required that you move on. If there was a disagreement with your previous manager, communicate it diplomatically. You could say “there were strategic differences in our approaches.” Don’t say you hated your manager.
6. The Salary Equation
Experts advise leaving the salary discussion to the very end of the interview process.
“As a rule, people shouldn’t portray that one is only driven by the money,” says Mr. Balaji.
Talk about salary only if the interviewer brings up the topic. Be truthful about what you earn currently, and be prepared to give some idea of what you expect in the new position.
7. Manners Count
Don’t overlook your basic etiquette.
“Arrive on time; not too early, not too late. Either way can send different kinds of signals,” says Nirmit Parekh, managing director and chief executive officer of international executive research firm 3P Consultants Pvt. Ltd. in Mumbai.
If you get there too early, it can show that you have a lot of time to kill.
Switch off your mobile phone before the interview. “Invariably, I’m standing for a minute because the person is completing a call,” says Mr. Parekh.
8. What to Wear
Dress appropriately—not too casual, but you needn’t be in a suit-and-tie either, especially if it’s hot outside. A clean shirt, tie and trousers are good enough for men. Women can wear a modest Indian outfit, or a collared shirt and pants.
9. Body Language
“Body posture, according to me, is extremely important when you are talking to and meeting a person,” says Mr. Parekh. It immediately gives away whether the person is confident—or overconfident.
If someone crosses their legs or leans back too casually, you know he’s not taking this meeting seriously, he adds.
A firm handshake leaves a good impression. Be sure you maintain eye contact during the interview. If there is more than one interviewer, don’t ignore anyone.
“A smile is always welcome,” he says.
Send a thank-you note or email to the person you met with. And ask when you should check back to find out the interview result.