Tips for a Successful Job Interview

Business Coach Column by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) from the Manila Bulletin

As a jobseeker, a job interview would probably be a nerve-racking situation for you. You may be stressed out, but still you have to compose yourself and show your confidence when presenting yourself for a job interview.

The main objective of a job interview is to advertise yourself. You have to “sell” yourself effectively to your potential employer within the 15 – 30 minutes most interviews last and convince them that you are the best person for the position.

Interviewers know how to elicit information to identify the candidate who will match their needs. They are skilled in assessing how an applicant thinks, and are well experienced in evaluating an individual’s personality. They have a ways of knowing if a jobseeker is lying, and are adept in cross-examining an applicant.

A typical job interview is usually a face-to-face interview with your potential employer (or their representative). It may also be an interview series, or a panel interview.

The best strategy for a winning job interview is to have a clear picture of how you would like to project yourself during your interview. Here are tips for a successful job interview:

Do research on the company. Know the products or services offered, as well as the culture of the corporation. Make the interviewer feel that you are very interested in the job. Find out too, the characteristics of the employees they hire, if you can talk to one of them.

Bring extra copies of your resume. You never know, but you might be interviewed by more than one person.

Have a ball pen on hand. Other companies have their own application forms, which you have to fill up. Besides, you might be asked to sign some papers. You may also bring a notepad, just in case you have to take down notes.

Dress your best for the interview. In other businesses, this is not important. However, it would be best to present yourself appropriately during this time. If uncertain, err on the side of conservatism. Avoid clothes in bright colors. Put on limited jewellery, and use perfume sparingly. For ladies, avoid wearing short and tight skirts that you could hardly sit down in. For men, hair should be short and neatly combed.

Arrive early. Come to the office 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time, but aim to be in the vicinity of the building an hour beforehand, to allow for unusual traffic or a flat tire.

Be courteous. Greet the persons you meet, or offer a smile. From the receptionist to the secretary, show everybody that you are nice and friendly. They might influence your interviewer into hiring you.

Wait to be seated. Say “thank you” when offered a seat. When already seated, do not slouch, nor fidget. Never place anything on the table of the interviewer. Remain as calm as possible.

Let the interviewer start the conversation. If the interview has not started yet, keep quiet, sit straight, and maintain eye contact.

Be honest. Do not lie about anything. If hired, and your employer discovers an inconsistency in your application, you might just be terminated.

Listen well. If some questions are unclear, courteously ask for clarification. Pause before answering the questions, so you will have time to organize your thoughts and think of the best answers.

Be direct to the point. Discuss only the important details needed to answer the question. Also, avoid interrupting the interviewer. Even if you are impatient to answer, let the interviewer finish the question.

Focus on positive ideas. Offer answers featuring your strengths or skills. Do not give too many personal details. Never criticize your previous employers.

Answer questions loud and clear. Do not mumble. Relax, and show that you are confident.

Do not take cell phone calls while being interviewed. This is not only inappropriate, but will also irritate your interviewer.

Leave on a positive note. Thank the interviewer for her / his time. Ask also when it would be best to follow-up on your application.

Send a thank you letter to the interviewer. Keep the letter short, and reiterate your interest in the position, as well as your assurance that you meet the criteria for the position.

You only have a limited time to convince your interviewer that you are the most competent candidate for the position, so you must come well prepared. Know the most frequently asked questions during interviews, and be ready to answer them (see MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS below).

After the interview, it is most certain that the interviewer will ask if you have questions before she / he concludes the interview. Most applicants would politely say “none”. This is not recommended. Having no questions sends the message that you are not serious about the job.

Always prepare questions to ask after the interview. However, do not ask questions about wages and benefits, unless those issues are raised by the interviewer. Prepare sensible questions, such as the following, to make a good impression:

• What would you expect me to accomplish in this job?

• What will be the greatest challenge in the position?

• What tasks have the highest priority?

• How will my leadership skills and performance be measured?

During the job interview, the interviewer gets the chance to evaluate your expertise, knowledge, and skills. Always keep in mind that the best way to answer the questions is to be as direct and honest as you can. Gathering your thoughts prior to answering is not only helpful but also wise. Stay calm, and have fun! Your prospective employer would want to add positive, energetic, and confident employees to their roster


• What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

• What is your greatest achievement? Your greatest frustration?

• How do you handle stressful situations?

• Why would you like to apply in our company?

• What are your short and long-term goals in life?

• Why do you want to apply for the position?

• Why should we hire you?

• Tell me about the best and the worst bosses you ever had.

• What was the best advice your previous employer ever told you?

• What are your pet peeves?

• Why did you resign from your last job?

• What did you like most and least about your last company?

• How do you solve problems?

• Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?

• What do you expect from this job?

• What are your hobbies?

• How do you feel about overtime? Weekend schedules? Relocating?

• What can you contribute to our company?

• How soon would you be able to start working if offered this position?

(All rights reserved. Copyright by Manila Bulletin and Ruben P. Anlacan, Jr. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)


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