This will be the third post covering a few more suggestions if you are applying for positions and have secured an interview. I hope this series has been useful for you in understanding how to prepare for an interview. In this post, I will write additional thoughts on preparing for an interview, and also how you should respond post-interview.
1. Know the organisation and the people.
Preparing for an interview often requires you to find out more about the job scope, the skills required and the workplace. Depending on what position you are applying for, it may pay to find out who your interviewers are, especially if you are applying to transfer to a different company in the same industry, or applying for a job in another department within the same company.
I had assumed this to be intuitive for those with a number of years of experience in their belt. For those entering the job market for the first time, I will think it understandable if they did not think of this. For the experienced, it pays to know, because you will be working with them if you secure the position. You can consider if you are comfortable working with them.
That was not what I experienced though. Majority of the applicants are not familiar with the organisation structure in the division I work in. Some knew that there are different portfolios but are clueless about the people who handle them. The applicants for the internships tended to show their lack of knowledge of the department. They failed to fact find even the basics, such as the office location. I find this a pity, honestly. Knowing the people gives you an idea if you want to work in that place.
2. You can be open about your level of interest in the position, even after the interview.
So you went through the interview and had a sensing of your chances. You may have attended other interviews subsequently, or even accepted an offer from somewhere. Should you then close an eye if one of the companies you had an interview call? Apparently, a number of applicants did that to my colleagues when they called to follow up on their applications.
This is not just a pattern for those applying for the traineeship position in my department. Even applicants seeking a transfer to my department from schools did the same. There was one teacher whom we were interested to make an offer. Despite calls and messages, the teacher did not respond at all, even after the deadline passed.
Contrast that to some applicants I had conversations with. After learning more about the role and what they will do, some of them responded with their assumptions and what they hoped to pick up if they were offered a position. At least the applicants were open with their expectations, which gave us the chance to review their suitability for the role they applied.
3. The panel’s views does not determine your worth; you can show your worth if given a chance.
In my first post, I wrote about an applicant who failed to create a good impression with the chair of the panel. That failure cost the applicant her chance to secure a position with my department. Yet this applicant could turn around in the interview and showed what she is capable. While that moment was too late into the interview, I was pretty sure she did not come out of the session feeling like it was a lost cause, because she sounded as if she had found her own answers to her purpose in the process.
There was another candidate who was fairly reserved and took time to piece the thoughts and responses together. Yet the response that came subsequently was cogent and showed depth. However this candidate didn’t impress all the panellists. There was uncertainty whether this candidate can manage the pace of work. Yet this candidate became a colleague, and showed a good ability to handle the work and stay on top of things.
My point in writing about the two candidates is this: you are seeking for a job, not self worth. If you face rejection, don’t take it as an attack on your self worth. The impression you created in an interview may not be favourable, yet there can be opportunities to overturn that. Even if the impression sticks, you do not need to live up to that impression. Stick with your values. Show you have worth through your work. Do not let people’s judgments become your character.
If you have read this far, it could be because you are thinking about how you should prepare for an interview. Do as much background research as you can. Think of the possible questions people may ask. Be prepared for the unexpected.
Most importantly, show that you can add value to the organisation, and show that you have the right values to carry out the role.
If you are a job seeker, what tips do you have to get that position you have identified?