In an interview situation, you should show your best side and promote yourself, at the same time you should be honest and try to feel comfortable in the situation. This is much to handle at once. However, if you are well prepared you will likely feel more comfortable in the interview situation.
How do I prepare?
If you want to immerse yourself, you can go through the eight steps below. You will learn what to consider before the interview, how to handle interview questions, what types of interviews there are and what to do after an interview. If you have already made the necessary preparations you could skip the different steps. Look at this checklist instead and make sure you have thought of everything.
1. Who or which persons will interview me?
It is increasingly common for companies to allow recruitment agencies to manage at least the first interview, but this is not always the case. The interviewer could also be a person from the company's human resources department, a middle manager or even the company chief executive. A good way to feel safe in the interview situation is to know beforehand which people you are going to meet. This is something you could ask about when you are contacted for an interview.
2. What kind of interview?
Also find out what type of interview you will undergo. You can read more about interview forms below under the header "What interview forms are there?" Which languages will be used during the interview? Will it be held in English or Swedish? Ask in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.
3. Do I need to bring anything to the interview?
Bring the contact information to your reference persons, and hand it over if asked. You should also bring your CV and your cover letter. Take the time to read them before the interview. Be ready to hand over copies of diplomas and certificates that evidence the qualifications and experiences mentioned in your CV.
It is not uncommon to be asked what your salary expectations are during the first interview. However, it is unusual to negotiate salary until later in the recruiting process. But, in any case, try to come up with a suggestion which you think is reasonable. As a student member in the The Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers you will have access to salary statistics. You will also find valuable information on salary negotiation on their web site.
4. Which questions will be asked?
A classic interview often starts with that the recruiter tells a little bit about the company and the job. After this it is likely you are asked to tell a little bit about yourself. This is seen by many as difficult. It is a matter of giving a positive and clear picture of who you are and what has led you to where you are today. However, it is not a matter of telling your whole life story. You should try to use maximum two minutes for your presentation so it is important to summarize. During your presentation, the recruiter gets an idea of how well you can express yourself verbally and how you value yourself and your experiences.
Practice on a short presentation of yourself before the interview. For example summarize what you are doing now, why you have chosen a particular direction in your education and something about who you are as a person. Let your summary be based on both your CV and your cover letter. The image you give of yourself shall be consistent with how you present yourself in your job application.
The introduction is then followed by questions designed to learn more about you. Today it is quite common to use behavior oriented questions, which means that the recruiter wants to know how you act and how you behave in different situations. That means you must give examples of how you acted in a specific situation, what you thought or how you solved a problem. So be prepared to have some examples from your life to refer to. Below you can see examples of the difference between classical and behavioral interview questions.
Classic interview questions
- What are your strengths?
- What is the most important thing you can contribute with?
Behavior oriented questions
- Describe a situation where you prioritized tasks in an exceptionally efficient manner.
- Describe a situation when you felt really pleased with a decision you made and what it led to.
If you like download more questions and practice!
5. Which questions should I ask the company?
An interview is not only about the employer assessing whether you are suitable for the position or not. The purpose also is that you yourself should investigate if this is something for you, so take the opportunity to ask questions yourself. That also shows that you are interested and eager to get the job. Here are some examples of questions to the employer.
- What does a typical workday look like?
- How is the distribution between individual work and team work?
- Can you tell me more about the company vision, goals and policies?
- What policies is there regarding skills development?
- How are new employees introduced and trained? (Tutor, mentor?)
- What policies are there regarding human resources issues?
- What will be the next step in the recruitment process? When will decisions be made?
6. Dressing for a job interview
It can be difficult to know exactly how to dress for an interview. You may want to try to blend in with the others at the company, but may not know which dress code that applies. A general rule of thumb is that, whether it is a simple part-time job or an advanced job position, you should try to dress formally, nice and tidy. You don't have to show up in the latest fashion, but try to put some effort on your attire. This is a way to show respect for the situation and give a serious and professional impression. Remember, you are judged by your appearance so try to avoid dressing too personal. Avoid, for example, rattling jewelry, and clothing with unusual patterns, sneakers or flip-flops. Here you can read more and get some inspiration: Jobsearch
7. What interview forms are there?
Here you get to meet one or several persons face to face. It can be a recruiter or a human resource person from the company and/or a manager. You may be called directly to such an interview, or perhaps after an initial telephone interview. The interview time is usually between 1-2 hours and the aim is to get a clearer picture of who you are, how you handle different situations, your personality and your social and verbal skills.
It is not unusual that the first interview in a selection process is a phone interview. This interview determines whether you will be called to a more classic interview. A phone interview is often shorter than a classic interview so you have less time to make a good impression. Since you can't use body language your verbal ability is put to test. Prepare answers to the same questions as in a classic interview but practice extra on your answer to the question; "Can you tell me about yourself?" One advantage with this kind of interview is that you can have CV, letter, the job ad and information about the company at hand as a backup when you answer questions.
Also group interviews may occur in the beginning of the selection process. The company saves time by meeting many candidates in a short time. But it's not always just about saving time. In a group interview it is assessed how you communicate with others, how you listen and interact. Here you will not have the same attention as during an individual interview, so be careful how you formulate your answers once you get the word. Again, practice your verbal skills and prepare yourself. The challenge is often about finding a balance between daring to take place without becoming too dominant.
Practice on Case
Case interviews are becoming quite common, especially if you are to work in the consultancy business. In this form of interview you get to solve a real problem or Puzzle game, either on your own or in groups. The aim is to test problem solving, logical thinking, presentation skills and interpersonal skills. You should definitely practice at solving cases before participating in such an interview. You can do this in several ways. Different companies as well as THS (KTH Student Union) frequently organize case-competitions, for example in relation to careers fairs at KTH.
8. What should I keep in mind after an interview?
After the interview you can send an e-mail and thank for the interview. If you do not hear from the employer after a few weeks, do call and ask about the progress of the recruitment process. If they would choose another candidate, it might be a good idea to ask what made them choose this person. Perhaps he or she has more experience in a particular field. That way you will not have to go and wonder and take it too personally.