A job interview usually causes a bit of jitteriness, sweaty palms and a rapid pulse, but there are ways for applicants to use the nervous excitement to their benefit.
Being well prepared is the best way to stay calm. Taking time to look at the company’s website is an important part of the preparation process, says Sabine Neumaier, a career counselor in Berlin.
The second step is to decide what to wear. Neumaier says the basic rule of thumb is not to go over the top. The best thing to do is to get an idea ahead of time how people in the particular industry tend to dress.
“Maybe you will be able to find out at the website what is normal,” says Svenja Hofert, a career counselor in Hamburg. “Otherwise, it can be worthwhile to ask friends whether they know anything about the dress code.”
Don’t overdress, the career advisers say. An example of this would be if an applicant attended an interview for a creative or manual job wearing a suit. Wearing a suit to an interview for a job as a carpenter is ridiculous, Neumaier says.
The next thing to think about and decide is how to get to the location of the interview. “Never underestimate the amount of time it takes to get there,” says Juergen Hesse, a career coach in Berlin. “It’s best to include a lot of extra travel time and then take a walk around the block to use up any surplus time. Arriving five minutes early is OK, but not earlier than that.”
How to handle the introduction is the next thing to consider. Applicants are advised to follow common custom, says Hofert, which is to greet the highest-ranking person first and if it’s not clear who that is, turn first to any women present.
During the introduction it’s important to make a good first impression above all with small talk.
“It’s up to you to make sure that the beginning goes well,” Hesse says. Complimenting the view from the office window or the decor of the office usually goes over well, he adds.
The human resources representative usually has three common questions, says Hesse. They are: Tell me about yourself? Why did you apply to work here? Why should we hire you? The first round of interviews is usually about how applicants present themselves.
“The first question is your opportunity to describe the milestones in your life,” Neumaier says. The applicant should make an effort to expand on the parts of his or her resume that fit especially well with the job description. It’s important when answering the other two questions to prepare individual answers.
Applicants also should make clear that they can call on their specific knowledge in the area in which they are applying.