Applicant training – surviving a job interview

Published on 10.10.2017

Checklist for your job interview

Tips on how to prepare for a job interview:

  • Look at the company’s website to get a brief overview of the main details (social media websites can also be used for this purpose: e.g. Facebook for an insight into the corporate culture, Xing or LinkedIn to get an idea of what your interviewers look like).
  • Read through the advertisement carefully and make a note of some initial questions you might ask about the position.
  • Create an optimum point-by-point match between the vacancy and your own experience/skills. Make a mental note of whereabouts in your CV you can best mention these aspects in the course of the interview.
  • Find out about the latest news relating to the company, its products and sector.

Tricks to overcome nervousness:

  • Think in advance about potential questions you might be asked concerning your CV during the interview and have answers ready.
  • Have a notepad and pen with you – taking notes has a relaxing effect should you feel nervous.
  • You will be offered coffee or water – be sure to accept: if you need a moment to think about what you’re going to say, taking a sip of water gives you the perfect inconspicuous opportunity to do so.
  • Don’t forget: from the company’s point of view, you have to fit the job – but the company and job have to be right for you, too.
  • Have the telephone number of your contact person ready – you never know when you might get stuck in traffic or face public transport delays.

Questions that are currently popular in job interviews:

  • Expect questions on the subject of work-life balance. Consider points such as how you will get to work and talk to your family in advance about critical issues such as moving house or your willingness to travel, at least in theory.
  • It is by no means outdated for interviewers to ask questions about your weaknesses, though nowadays these would be expressed differently, e.g. “Where do you think you have potential for development?”.
  • You might also be prepared for some surprising questions, such as “How would your friends describe you in three words?” or “What position would you play in on a football team?”
  • Questions increasingly tend to be asked about motivation and attitude. What can you say about your motivation, and what is your attitude to being introduced to specific topic areas you may not have experience of?

Finally, three general tips:

  • Small talk is important – the more quickly you can establish a level of communication in a job interview that is not work-related, the more at ease you will feel and the more positive the interview will be.
  • At the end of the interview you can score bonus points by taking leave of each of the interviewers by name.
  • Act naturally at all times and avoid putting on any pretence – demonstrate your expertise but be honest. Be clear about expressing your own expectations – this will avoid any misunderstandings and you will be able to start the new job without any concerns.

Many thanks to our colleague Nicolas Reichenbach for these points!

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