How to do well at a job interview

In this post I want to share my interview experience and give you a few tips on how to do well at a job interview; all my recommendations are based on my own experience. This time of the year a lot of students graduate from schools and join the work force, and they will go through a lot of different interviews. I put together a few tips that I find fundamental to a success at a job interview, as they have helped me throughout my career. I do encourage that you should do your own research on the current trends in the job search, what employers look for in a candidate, how to write a resume, etc. Like everything else, interview trends change too, so remember to stay up-to-date.

I often remember one day while in Glion Hotel School, it was in April of 2006, just a few months before my graduation. That day was very significant for 2 reasons: firstly, I had to do a presentation of my final project for E-Commerce class, and secondly, I had my first ever job interview for a manager-in-development program in the US. I was extremely nervous. Gallons of coffee helped me to stay awake all night. I was preparing for the interview as much as I was preparing for the presentation. Each interview is just like an exam with the only difference that you take it in an HR or a director’ s office, not in a classroom. Having said that I want to highlight that each interview should be taken seriously and should be prepared for.

Do your research. Remember what I said earlier – an interview is like an exam, so you should prepare for it as if you were preparing for an exam. You should research about the company and the position that you are applying for from the minute you decided to apply for it. You need to make sure that this is the company that you would like to work for and this is the job that you are interested in doing. Once you have sent your application for a job, you should start your thorough research about the company. “Why should I do that before they call me for an interview?”, you may ask me. The reason why is that the recruiter may call you at any random time and conduct the initial interview with you over the phone. And one of the questions that they may ask will be “What do you know about our company? Why have you decided to apply for this job?”. So, be prepared. Just to give you an example, for one of my interviews for a sales manager position at a hotel I had to learn everything about the hotel (the number of rooms, amenities, meeting space, rates, location), about its competitors, who they were and what competitive advantage they had, its ratings, guest feedback, the company’s expansion plans. I used all of my knowledge of the company during the interview. As you will be applying to many different companies, I highly recommend that you create files for each of them, with the brief information on each company and a set of questions to the employer about the company and the position.

Be consistent. Typically, an interview is a two or three-phase process. If you are applying for a supervisor or a managerial role, you will first meet with either an HR representative or the head of the department. As a successful result of the first interview, you will be called for an interview with the team, and the final interview may be a meeting with the General Manager or a VP of the division. It is important to do well at all of the phases of the process and impress all of the interviewers, as all of their opinions will be taken into account when the decision is being made.

Always ask questions at the end. “Do you have any questions?”, this is what’s typically asked at the end of each interview. The answer should always be “Yes”. While doing the research, prepare minimum 5 questions about the company and/or the job that you are being interviewed for. Some of the questions may be answered during the interview, so it is always better to have more than less. This is a very old rule, but it is an essential one. Having questions ready shows that you are truly interested to work for this company and, most importantly, that you are interested in the job. Have the questions written in a file, or on an iPad (which I used recently for one of my interviews and the employer was very impressed), or just remember them, but never fail to ask.

Follow up. A couple of weeks ago I was having a dinner with a friend of mine who has worked as a director of sales and marketing for a number of big hotel companies for many years. We were discussing interviews and she told me that when she needs to hire a person she typically calls back to the ones that have followed up with her after their initial interview either via a Thank You card, a Thank You call or just a follow up call or an e-mail. That statement was not a revelation for me as I had already been doing that, but it reassured me that what I was doing was the right thing. After each interview send a thank you card, or at least an email, to the person who interviewed you. Typically, at the end of each interview, employers say when they plan to make a decision, so it is OK for you to send a follow up e-mail or give them a follow –up call in case you have not hear back from them yet. This will show them that you are very interested and, also will help you understand whether there is still a strong chance of being hired for that job, or maybe you should be focus on other opportunities.

Questions frequently asked during an interview.

Below is a list of the questions that are typically asked by employers. Of course, the list may be longer, and it may have questions that are job-specific, but these are the questions that I have been asked almost at every interview that I have had.

  1. Tell me about yourself, your background and professional experience
  2. Why did you choose our company/hospitality? Why are you interested in this position?
  3. What do you know about our company?
  4. What are your strengths/weaknesses? Name 3.
  5. How can you contribute to the success of our department/company?
  6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Dress professionally, have a friendly smile, a sturdy handshake, be articulate, and carry yourself with confidence! One blog post is not enough to share all of my experience with interviewing for a job. But I wanted to give you the tips that I find most important to do well at an interview. I hope you will find them helpful and I wish you success in your job search.

I am off to writing my next post. Until then, stay well and good luck!

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