How to Ace Your Next Interview — Part 2: The Interview
In my role as Applicant Care Associate in our Nairobi office, I’m here for candidates from start to finish of their applications — answering questions over phone and e-mail, and always making process improvements to make sure the Shortlist platform is candidate-friendly.
Shortlist helps candidates find and apply to great jobs, and the best-fit candidates advance to interviews with employers. We’ve written a practical guide for jobseekers like you, to make sure you put your best foot forward and feel prepared and confident for the big day! In this post, I’ll share tips for best practices during your interview. In case you missed it, check out this post on how to prep for your interview. Up next in the series — what to do after your interview to seal the deal.
So you landed an interview, prepared thoroughly, and just walked in the door — what do you need to do next to make sure you leave a lasting impression?
1. Make a good first impression
Greet the receptionist and warmly introduce yourself and explain your appointment. When you meet the interviewer(s) give them a firm handshake and thank them for seeing you for an interview.
There may be small talk, be sure to follow the employer’s lead and let them guide the conversation. They are busy and might want to get right to the interview questions!
2. Pay attention to your body language
We can communicate a lot without uttering a single word, even if it’s subconscious. The right body language can help you give the impression that you’re confident, personable, and extremely interested in the conversation you have with each interviewer. A few tips:
- Sit up straight and display your neck and chest area to show that you are open.
- When using hand gestures, keep your hands above the desk and below the collarbone — any higher can make you appear frantic.
- Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, as doing so can make you appear defensive and guarded.
- Try to avoid fidgeting, which can make you seem nervous.
- Be sure to maintain regular but not overly persistent eye contact throughout the interview.
- Most importantly — smile! It creates a positive environment for both you and the interviewer, and can actually make you feel better throughout the conversation.
3. Be concise, focused, and yourself!
When the interviewer asks a question, it’s perfectly fine to collect your thoughts for a few moments before you respond. Make sure to answer each question truthfully and completely, but without rambling on for too long. Keep your knowledge of the company and open position in the forefront of your mind as you answer, making connections between your background and skills and what they’re seeking in this role.
4. What to do with panel interviews
If you find yourself in a panel interview, make sure you briefly address each individual with your gaze and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.
5. Remember, you’re interviewing them too!
Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions at the end of your session. Don’t let this opportunity pass you up — not only does it give you the chance to learn more information, but it can show that you’re a critical thinker.
Some questions will flow naturally from the interview, but we recommend preparing a few in advance, too (see other ways to prepare in this blog post!). Some example questions include
- I was excited to read that [element of their work culture] is a major part of your company culture. How have you experienced that during your time here?
- How could I grow and evolve in this role in a way that would support the organization?
- What is the biggest priority for your department/company right now? Any challenges?
6. Get to know the next steps
You can directly ask the interviewer what the next steps of the process will be. Avoid settling for the common “We’ll get in touch with you” response that places you in a passive position.
Should the interviewer give you such a response, you may politely ask them to give you a timeline within which you can expect feedback or to follow up with them.
We hope these tips will be helpful for you to keep in mind when you walk in for your next interview — you got this!!
We would love to hear from you! Share your tried-and-true interview tips in the comments, and please let us know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.