Job interview tips

By Fouad Alaa

WHEN PEOPLE are preparing for job interviews they are faced with two main challenges: how to keep calm and in control during an interview and how to give a unique impression that shows that they are as good to meet in person as they are on paper.


Here are some personal observations and methods that have worked well for me so far:


Eliminate stress and be authentic



When I applied for the job, I needed the money, I needed to prove something to myself, and I needed a win so I had all the reasons to be stressed over it. One method I found very useful to eliminate stress was to embrace the fact that on paper I might be the least qualified applicant and the job was probably not going to be mine.



So on the way to the interview I didn’t worry about making an amazing impression and I actually enjoyed my music playlist (which calmed me down even more). During the interview, I was very honest with my answers and I didn’t oversell or undersell myself. I was 100% me.



After the interview, instead of just being happy about an interview that went well, I felt that it went better than I expected and that great mood stayed with me for the remainder of that day.



Eliminating stress allows you to be at your peak mental capacity and be the best you that you can be.



For people who don’t handle stress well, being calm and balanced is an effective way to convey confidence. Some people are calm when they have nothing to lose while others are calm when they have everything. So try to psych or rationalize your way into a state of serenity and you may come off as confident even if you are naturally not.   



Don’t follow the herd



When it comes to answering questions, understanding that the questions are rarely as simple as they seem gives you a chance to give a personal impression not just a typical one. After all, the reason for an interview is to know more about the person that comes with the qualifications not the other way around.


Asking friends, referring from their experiences, would only give you the most common answers or what worked for them, and as a result there is a high probability that it would resemble other applicants’ as well. Personalising your own unique answers to common questions would be a great start for you to become a memorable applicant.



For example, when asked to talk more about your personality or name qualities that best describe you, avoid generalising yourself or putting yourself in a box by using one word descriptions (friendly, talkative, professional, etc.).



Instead, you can elaborate with a part or two about what kind of friendly person you are or in what sense of the word ‘professional’ you mean. Some people are friendly by being able to provide small talk and consequently comfort, while others are friendly by being good listeners and consequently providing comfort as well. The first type is more suited for sales or marketing, while the latter is more suitable for healthcare or a profession where information is vital.



Remember one of those annoying math tests where you need to show your work? There would always be that kid with a bull’s eye on his back because he gained extra points for having a neat answer. Be that kid!



Initial thoughts would suggest that the only right answers to technical or practical questions are purely technical answers, which is mostly true. However, even if the answer is following standard procedures or the “book”, simply explaining your thought process is enough to turn a typical right answer into a unique right answer.



Make the goal of the interview to not just having a shot at a job but rather owning the job AND a memory slot of your future employer.



Don’t burn bridges



Last but not least, after making a good impression and separating yourself from the herd, the next step after the interview is done is the wait. There is only one positive thing you can do while you wait for a feedback on the interview which is following up without being desperate.



Wait for 2-3 working days and then try to contact and inquire about the result of the interview once. That would show that you are the type of person who is persistent but not annoying, a quality that employers seek.



Whether you are accepted for the job or rejected, don’t burn other bridges.



If an interview went well and you are accepted for a job but you still have one or more interviews scheduled, the right thing to do is to cancel out of courtesy because who knows, maybe fate would lead you back to reapply in a year.



On the other hand, if you are not accepted in a previous interview, being demotivated is a huge mistake that might cause you to lose your game in the next interview. So don’t be too happy about given opportunity or too sad about lost ones, either way you might lose. At the end of the day you never know what might happen.

Photo credit: AFP/Relaxnews

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