Interview Tips: How to Prepare for a Successful Job Interview

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For many people, getting a job interview is a big accomplishment.

In fact, Workopolis reported that only 2% of job applicants get called for an interview. In Tanzania, where an average of 100 applications are sent per position, that would be only 2 people!

So, how do you pass this final barrier in the job process and get your dream job?

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

If you find yourself fortunate enough to land a job interview, there are a number of steps you can take in preparation for interview day that will increase your chances of landing the job.

1. Research company:

Hopefully, you already researched the company when you were writing your CV and cover letter. Now, you can research the company even more by doing searches on Google and social media, talking to peers and friends who are familiar with both the company and the industry.

The point of this is to further understand the nature of the company, its particular challenges and how you can position yourself in the interview as a solution to some of their problems. In short, you should find out why they need you and be ready to give them an answer during the interview.

2. Develop a strategy for answering questions:

Rambling on and on, or giving answers that lack substance is not going to impress your interviewer. Instead, have a strategy as to how you will answer questions – just like you were taught in school to have a structure for writing essays.

One popular and effective tactic is the STAR method of interview. When an interviewer asks you a question, for instance, “How would you solve ______ problem if you were given the position”. You structure your answer like this:

Situation OR Task: Describe a situation you were in or a task that you were required to undertake that prepared you (is relevant) to tackle this problem. For instance, “In my old company, I was challenged with the task of _______, that had similar problems”.

Action: Describe the action you took to solve the situation

Results: Describe the outcome. And how you can bring what you learned to the company and their challenges.

3. Answer questions beforehand

Now that you have researched the company and developed a strategy to answering questions, spend time answering the 10 most frequently asked interview questions. Write your answers down and practice them, but don’t memorize them. This will cause you to panic if they ask something else during the interview.

In addition to the 10 questions, think of other industry relevant questions you may be asked, and look at your CV and cover letter for possible questions also. For instance, if you are applying for a job in a different industry than what you studied in university, chances are the interviewer will ask you about it. Make sure you are prepared with an honest but meaningful answer.

4. Do a mock interview

While some people are lucky enough to be naturally great interviewees, most of us aren’t and can panic.

So doing a couple of mock interviews with a friend, family member, workmate etc. is a great way to get you to relax and get comfortable with the answers you prepare.

Make sure you also practice making eye contact and smiling. Body language is an important part of your interview. In fact, a  study conducted by the distinguished researcher Mehrabian conveyed that 55% of communication is body language, 38% is tone of voice, and 7% is the actual words spoken.

So remember to look attentive, calm and collected. Your interviewers will be paying attention.

5. Dress to win

We often hear stories of perfectly qualified candidates being dismissed because they came dressed inappropriately to an interview. Don’t let something as superficial as your appearance, ruin your chances at a great job. A couple of days before the interview, you should call the HR office of the company and figure out the dress code for the company.

Is it corporate, business casual, completely casual? You want to dress like you already work there to give them a visual of how you will fit in. In addition to clothes, make sure you have good hygiene, hair and (for the ladies) keep the make up and jewelry simple.

Get even more information about how to dress for a job interview, here.

6. Know the location

Tanzanians are infamous for always being late to everything, but that’s no excuse for being late to a job interview.

In fact, this should be the rare times in your life (in addition to the birth of your children) that you should arrive before the allotted time.

This isn’t impossible. Simply, figure out the location of the interview, how to get there, how long it will take you to get there – days before. On the day of the interview make sure you start heading to the interview early, and take into consideration traffic and other mishaps like – a flat tire and traffic stops.

7. Get lots of sleep the night before

This is self-explanatory. The more rest you get the better you will look and feel on interview day.

8. Eat a good breakfast

While to many of us a good breakfast includes maandazi, chapatti and sausages. Try and eat foods that stimulate brain activity and give you energy. So think, fruits and eggs. Don’t worry; you can eat as much as you want after the interview!

9. Boost your confidence and adrenaline

Instead of spending the last 5 minutes before your interview scrambling through your written answers and overthinking, do something that will boost your confidence (naturally). For instance, listen to a motivational song on your phone, read a verse from your religious book, or an inspiring poem. Or do some quick jumping jacks – but don’t sweat!

10. Know that you did your best

At the end of the day whether or not you get the job, know that you did your best. Look at it as a great experience to prepare you for the next job interview. In fact, if you don’t get the job, you should contact the interviewers and ask them for feedback on your interview. Don’t take it personally, allow it to motivate you to improve your skills, and use it as fuel to help you become a better job hunter!

So how do we know all this?

In addition to being Tanzania’s most trusted and used resource for employers and job seekers, over the years we have conducted dozens of interviews for our own employees and also started a recruiting agency that helps companies find great employees.

Contact, recruitment@zoomtanzania.com to find out more about how we can help you land your next job position or find great employees.

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.