Job-Hunting: Beat the Monster "Job Interview"
by Alessandra Cayley
Ana Augusta never felt nervous before a job interview, but that was in her country, Brazil. In Canada she admits having few butterflies in her stomach. “Maybe it’s because English is not my first language,” she says.
She has been in Canada for almost five years and has participated in four job interviews. She remembers that the worst was one when she faced a group of interviewers. “I was bombarded with questions! It’s a good thing is I had prepared myself.”
A few days before her interview, she practiced with a friend. She also searched for tips on the internet on how to behave during a job interview. “The material I found was useful but the tips from my friend, who is Canadian and is used to the process, helped the most.”
Augusta is right. According to the manager of hireimmigrants.ca, Kevin McLellan, preparing yourself prior to the big day is the key to success. The consultant gives us some tips on how to get ready:
- Book a mock interview with an employment agency before the real one. They will teach you how to behave and what to do. A mock interview is a simulation of a real interview conducted by a job consultant. It’s when you will be allowed to make mistakes and have them corrected by a professional. The help is free and offered by many employment agencies (find one close to you at www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/tcu/search.html).
- Educate yourself. Read books about interview techniques. Plenty of material is also available on the internet.
- Informational interview. You gather information from people who are working in a field that you are interested in. For example, if you are seeking a job in telecommunications, call the HR department of a telecommunications company and ask for details about their job interview process. Make sure to identify yourself and explain the reason for the call. McLellan warns you not to call the company where you already have a job interview scheduled.
- Practice a behavioural interview. This approach requires the candidates to show how they behave in certain situations, focusing on their past experience. A sample of a behavioural interview question – “Tell me a time when you had to go against a company policy with which you did not agree.”
Christina Santiago, employment consultant at the Young Employment Service in Toronto advises, “Research the company that you are having the interview with. On the day of the interview, have the job posting and extra copies of your résumé with you.”
Another recommendation is to have a list of references with three or four contacts prepared before the meeting. “The last thing you want is to try, in front of the interviewer, to remember names.” The references can be friends, former bosses or colleagues. Just warn them that they will be part of your list.
Use some words from the job posting, to “connect” the interviewer’s needs with your skills. If the ad calls for an “energetic” person, use the word in your self-description.
What should you wear? “Get dressed according to the nature of the job,” says Santiago. It’s okay to ask the company’s dress code. For men, she recommends a suit and tie, along with dress shoes and black socks. Try on the outfit in advance if it is not your usual style. You need to feel comfortable with what you will wear on the day of your interview.
Women should wear dress pants and a pressed shirt. “Nothing too loud,” reminds Santiago. Black and neutral colours are good options. The image you want to project is professional, so forget cleavage and heavy make-up. Shoes should be closed toes, medium heels, preferably black.
Once there, thank the interviewer for the opportunity as you exchange handshakes – not too firm or too loose. Wait to be invited to have a seat.
At the end of the meeting, you will probably be asked if you have any questions. Have a list with questions like: what is expected of you in that position or what the company’s policy is for training newcomers. In case those topics were already covered, summarize your understanding of the answers to your questions. That will show the interviewer that you were listening.
Avoid the topic of money during this first encounter between you and your potential next job. Leave that for a second meeting, when the company has decided that you are the one.
Before leaving the interview, thank the interviewer for their time again.
Suppose you are hired. What should you do then?
“Be calm as possible,” says McLellan. “Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need help. The employer wants you to succeed just as much as you want to.” Santiago adds, “Observe how the team works and try to blend in.”
Augusta, the Brazilian girl, got a new job few weeks ago and remembers her first days. “I was uncomfortable at the beginning, afraid of asking questions and thinking that I wouldn’t be able to do well because of my English. But that didn’t happen and today I am feeling confident,” she says with a smile of victory on her face.
“DO NOT” LIST
• Do not wear perfume or cologne. You never know if the scent brings bad memories to the interviewer or if he/she is allergic.
• Do not cook before your appointment. You don’t want to smell of garlic and onion.
• Do not smoke just before the interview.
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