Anyone invited to an interview has already overcome the most formidable hurdle: The application documents were convincing, as were the professional qualifications. Congratulation! You are in round 2. However, the job is not over yet. You still have to convince the personnel decision-maker in a personal interview. Here we will show you how you can do this and practical tips for all phases of the interview.
What HR managers really care about in an interview
Many applicants are afraid of the interview. After all, it’s about her dream job and her future salary. Accordingly, there is great concern about saying something stupid or wrong in the conversation. We want to take that worry away from you. If you prepare well for the interview – nothing can happen. With the many interview questions, stressful questions, or tricky questions that HR managers can ask, it’s never about “right” or “wrong.” It’s about your personality.
This is what the interview is about
You have already convinced technically. Now one wants to get a personal picture of you: How you work, whether you fit into the team, how you react under stress, why you want to work here, and your goals. No matter what questions HR managers ask: In the end, it’s always about.
This is less about training or university degree, strengths or weaknesses. Instead, HR professionals are interested in what is known as soft skills during the interview. So the way of working, willingness to learn, passion (for the job), and social skills. In short, you want to make sure that you are up to all the challenges of the job.
We know: lateral thinkers and creative minds are the humus on which innovations thrive. That’s why every company needs them. Theoretically, in reality, however, HR managers often pay attention to conformity. Your job chances increase considerably the more you convey this “fitting.” How far an applicant pretends to be or remains as authentic as possible depends on how urgently he or she needs the job.
Do you have a list of achievements that suggest you will generate revenue, savings, or value for the employer? Ultimately, every hire is about a simple calculation: You are paid a salary X and hope that your performance will generate added value from Y. This is pure speculation at the time, but the more convincingly you can show that Y is more excellent than X, the sooner you will be hired. So if you can refer to relative successes from your previous career, you collect plus points.
Last but not least, HR managers think about whether the attitude could later fall back on them (negatively). After all, it’s also about your job and your reputation. That is why so few experiments dare to make adjustments. The more convincing your arguments are and the more guarantees your experience and skills offer; the more credible your appearance and demeanor, the better your chances. In the following, we will show you how you can do this – step by step and phase by phase.
Interview tips: convince in every phase
Whether we find someone sympathetic or trust them is often decided in seconds. Sometimes a single quality, a single word, a simple impression that offends the HR manager is enough – and the interview is over. This is a typical perception error. But one with a devastating effect: the so-called horn effect now outshines many other positive properties. To prevent this from happening to you, it is essential to control your body language in the interview and your words. The trick is to find the right balance – between perfect self-presentation, self-portrayal, and some leftover space for speculation. Between factual precision and personal insight. And that in all phases of the interview.
The 5 phases in every job interview
Almost all interviews take place in five typical interview phases:
Phase 1: Small talk
Duration: approx. 5 minutes
- Brief greeting
- Introduction by
- Questions about arrival & health/drinks
Phase 2: Getting to know each other
Duration: approx. 15 minutes
- Employer introduces himself
- Company / culture / products
- Description of the position
Phase 3: Self -presentation
Duration: approx. 10 minutes
- Previous professional career
- Major milestones and successes
- Strengths related to the position
Phase 4: Queries
Duration: approx. 10 minutes
- Questions about the content and requirements of the job
- Questions about expectations and performance
- Questions about development opportunities
Phase 5: Completion
Duration: approx. 5 minutes
- Thanks for the interview
- Further steps/deadlines
The order can, of course, vary. But you will come across the individual blocks again and again. Therefore, we are guided by this process and show you how you can pass the separate phases one by one.
Every interview begins with getting to know each other personally. Introducing, shaking hands, chatting, and observing and assessing each other. This small talk at the beginning is an essential social interaction. He should break the ice, reduce the excitement of the applicants, create an atmosphere.
A good thing. But as innocent as this phase of chat seems, it is just as little. Typically, psychologists differentiate approaching strangers into three behavioral phases, which are at the same time an expression of increasing sympathy:
- Matching: The partner’s body language is analyzed and initially only reflected up to a maximum of 50 percent by your own.
- Pacing: body language, gestures, facial expressions, language are increasingly synchronized.
- Rapport: Almost complete symmetry – both partners refer to each other every time through their behavior.
Therefore, the small talk and warm-up at the beginning of the interview are also referred to as the “rapport-building phase. ” Relevant information is not yet exchanged. The content of the conversation falls into the category: irrelevant. But that’s precisely where the danger lies: Candidates underestimate these first five minutes. In this first phase, HR managers assess how applicants will work later on in the job. It is not uncommon for the decision for or against the candidate to be made. No matter how structured an interview is, it is often decided at the beginning whether the candidate will get the job or not.
The most sophisticated conversation and questioning techniques cannot prevent our gut instinct from deciding, and the mind ends up looking for a plausible (apparently rational) justification for what the “chemistry” and “wavelength” have already decided in the first few minutes. So please don’t get angry, use it for yourself. You now know how important the first impression is. Practice your performance accordingly with friends, acquaintances, or a coach. The focus is on the question: “How do I appear to you: open, friendly, self-confident?”
Getting to know each other
In most cases, the host introduces himself first. So all people present and company representatives. Then the company, its background and finally details of the advertised position. You follow these statements with the most significant interest, listen attentively, and occasionally nod your head in agreement.
Typical interview questions usually follow this presentation of the company:
- Questions about application motivation
- Questions about personality, strengths, and weaknesses
- Questions about the way of working
- Questions about fitting and personal chemistry
- Questions of spontaneity
- Stress issues
- Trick questions
- Questions about leadership skills
The best tip for this: Always stay calm and never let yourself be confused.
To show you how to do this practically, we have put together a few typical questions and answers:
What’s your biggest weakness?
Applicants often use the question to address an alleged weakness, which is a strength. Error! HR managers see through this spectacle and follow up on it. Instead, be honest and show how you are working on a recognized weakness. For example: “In discussions, it is sometimes difficult for me to assert myself. But I’m working on expressing my opinion more clearly. “
You have changed jobs several times. Why should we hire you?
Career changes are not uncommon these days. Many HR professionals speak to candidates about it anyway. Do not react insecure or guilty to it. Instead, use examples to explain why these previous positions, in particular, qualify you for the current job. In short: take up the past question, but turn your gaze back to the future.
Would you describe yourself as stubborn or flexible?
Common trick question! Because both properties can – depending on the situation – be desirable or harmful. The answer to such suggestive alternative questions should therefore always cover both sides: “I find it difficult to find myself in one of the two categories. Of course, I can express my opinion and also be stubborn when defending an idea that I think is right. On the other hand, I also find consensus and compromises essential if they lead to the best possible result. “
If you had to choose someone for this position, what would you look for?
This question contains two points: Which skills do you think are relevant for the position? And do you have these qualifications yourself? Depending on the position, you should concentrate on two or three essential qualifications when answering: “I think that creativity and problem-solving skills are crucial for the job, because… This is exactly why I applied, because…” Now who’s the job description Garnished with a suitable (previous) experience, increases his chances enormously.
How is this job different from the others you applied for?
A nasty question. Who would like to tell about other applications in the job interview? However, it doesn’t make sense to claim that you only applied for this one position. HR managers know that this is a lie. So limit yourself to a short and neutral answer and continue to explain why you are drawn to this particular employer.
You can already see the concept behind the answers and reactions in the interview. Basically:
Take your time
Never let the many (critical) questions rush you. You can take time to think about it in every interview. This is not just about lowering your blood pressure. You’ll find the more intelligent answer too. On top of that, it seems more considered. Rest is the best strategy in the interview.
Far too seldom do applicants take the opportunity to ask questions in an interview. Especially if they didn’t understand the question. The fear is too great that this will be interpreted as a lack of attention or comprehension. Please don’t do that: tick the box and ask back. Understanding questions of the type “I’m not sure if I understood your question correctly, did you mean?” Is not a shame. On the contrary: they show genuine interest.
Let yourself be drawn to it
Some questions range from bizarre to absurd. This is especially true for stress interviews. The aim is to lure the applicant out of their comfort zone and look behind his facade. Of course, you don’t have to put up with everything, but anyone who sees the whole thing in a sporty way answers the questions confidently scores more points in the interview than any critic.
The self-presentation (also called “self-introduction”) is part of the regular repertoire in the job interview. Always! At some point, the sentence comes up: “Tell me something about yourself!” A classic. And the prelude to your performance.
The self-presentation rarely takes longer than five to ten minutes. More is not expected either. In this short speaking time, you have to get to the heart of the matter. There is no time to talk. It’s about advertising on your behalf but also demonstrating the security of the presentation. Because presenting and introducing projects or results is part of almost every job today. The self-introduction offers a foretaste of how you might act later after the hiring.
The self-introduction is always a free lecture. That doesn’t sound easy, but it is easy to prepare, practice, and memorize at home. Ideally, follow this:
- “I am …” (personal data, qualifications)
- Introduction (name, age, origin)
- Education/studies, highest qualification
- Previous jobs, experience
- “I can …” (previous successes)
- Milestones in professional life
- Special knowledge, certificates
- Greatest successes (numbers!)
- “I want …” (a reference to the position)
- The added value of your strengths and talents
- Relevant soft skills
- Motivation for the job
Above all, you can score with the “I want” part. Describe how you will use your knowledge and skills for the company in the first 30 days and what successes you could achieve. So what added value your attitude creates. In short: it is about an apparent reference to the company and the advertised position. Rehearse this self-presentation repeatedly at home in front of the mirror or as a video recording with your smartphone. Those who are more self-confident can also practice this in front of real listeners, such as friends, siblings, parents. Advantage: They also give you feedback and tips on how you work and what can be improved.
Whenever a recruiter allows you to ask questions yourself (so-called ” queries “), you should by no means remain silent or even shake your head: Please have your questions – always! For two reasons:
- This is the best chance to find out more about the company, your future workplace, the boss, his requirements and colleagues.
- This is a test. He should gauge your true interest in the job and check how intensively you have prepared for the interview. From the depth and cleverness of the questions, even an inexperienced HR manager can tell whether you have only studied the job advertisement or the company’s websites. And relevant specialist articles.
The other reasons are: You document genuine interest and prove that you are prepared. Intelligent questions also underline your intelligence. On top of that, you will learn more about the job and the company.
Some of the best questions to ask a recruiter during an interview include:
- How do you define success for this position?
- What do you expect from the ideal candidate?
- What distinguishes your best employees?
- What is the most frustrating thing about this job?
- How would you describe my boss’s leadership style?
- How would you describe your corporate culture?
- How is your performance measured and evaluated?
- How do you promote talents and strengths?
- Why do you enjoy working for this company?
- When can I expect your decision?
But please never make a list with you to the interview.
It’ll be done soon. The interview is almost over. So that you don’t make any mistakes in the last few minutes, you should avoid a few classic mistakes as much as possible. Quite a few applicants talk about head and career when they say goodbye to the job interview. Often the excess adrenaline and nervousness are to blame for displaying more than is good for you.
Even if your heart is still pounding at the end of the job interview and you want to chat: Don’t do it! Stay pro until the last minute and keep your tongue in check. The interview does not end until you are through the door and no longer in sight and on the company premises.
Please reaffirm your desire to work for the company. Or thank you for the excellent conversation and the pleasant atmosphere. Finally, intelligent questions such as: “What are the next steps in the application process?” “When can I expect an answer from you at the earliest?” “With whom can I stay in contact, or if I have any questions about you can I stay in contact? get?” But please never put pressure on the person you are talking to. Then all that remains is to say goodbye perfectly and to end the conversation.
Job interview follow-up
The end of the interview doesn’t mean anything more you can do to increase your chances of getting the job. In addition to interviewing preparation and implementation, follow-up and time after a job interview are the sixth critical phase in convincing HR managers, reinforcing the good impression, or correcting an unhappy formulation. The following tips will show you what else you can do after the interview:
Reflect on how the conversation went
How satisfied are you with your answers? Were you able to convince the HR manager, or would you like to clarify a point after the job interview? The reflection after the interview helps to learn more for possible further discussions.
Write a thank you letter
A thank you letter can reinforce the positive impression you made in the interview. Thank you for the invitation to the interview, the time the recruiter gave you, and the opportunity to get to know the company better. At the same time, you can mention that the interview reaffirmed your desire to work for the company, and you look forward to hearing from the recruiter. The thank you letter could look like this, for example:
At this point, I would like to thank you for the friendly conversation on DD.MM.YYYY, which allowed me to get some more interesting insights into the work.
I was particularly impressed by ____ and the friendly atmosphere. This confirms that I can actively support you with my abilities [give examples, qualifications] with ____.
I am at your disposal for further questions and information at any time.
Best regards to [company headquarters]
Stay active in the job search
The interview went well. The HR manager was only positive. And do you have an overall good feeling? Well. But still, no reason to put your hands on your lap. As long as you do not have an employment contract that is ready to be signed, you should continue your job search and apply for other positions.