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Mastering the Art of Job Interviews: Preparation, Common Questions, and Body Language

Job interviews can be stressful even for experienced professionals, but they can be downright intimidating straight after college. Well, the good news is that if you're invited to an interview, it means you've already passed the screening process - and that means a lot. Now, it's about making a good personal impression and showing the interviewers that you're genuinely interested in working for this company. Here are the main steps that will help you achieve just that.

Preparation & Research About Company

Did you know that almost half of recruiters will reject a candidate who knows nothing about the company? Sure, if you applied for a job, you must know something at least. But, an invitation to an interview usually requires a bit more research.

Study company projects and work ethics

If you apply for a company with a long history, you do not necessarily need to know everything the business has accomplished in the last few decades. Here, researching the highest-performing projects with the most impact is enough. But you should pay close attention to the latest projects because it will give you a good idea of what the company is doing now (and what you can become a part of).

Plus, researching the latest projects gives you a good glimpse into the company ethics - are these projects valuable? Sustainable? Does the business seem to care, or are they only making money? If you get any questions during the research, write them down - asking the right, carefully researched questions during an interview shows that you've done your homework and increases your chances of getting hired.

Find more about your interviewers

The same research logic applies to looking up people - HRs, recruiters, department managers - anyone who will interview you or have a say in hiring decisions. This way, you will have a better idea of what to say and how to act - not to mention you'll have a chance to prepare the right questions. After all, you cannot expect a recruiter to answer the same job-specific questions as a tech lead, for example.

If you do not know who you'd be talking to, look up the company staff online - this information is often available on corporate websites and social media. Or, you could always use a professional business lookup directory - there, you can find contact data of all decision makers from Microsoft to Google employees, neatly arranged by the company they currently work at.

Learn more about job responsibilities

This may sound like a no-brainer, but different companies often have different expectations from their employees - even if those employees have identical job titles. Think about it this way - in one company, an executive's assistant will deal with the necessary paperwork. Still, in a different one, the fancy title will be limited to making coffee runs and scheduling meetings.

So, take another look at the job description and look up similar offers from other employers. You can also google typical job expectations and responsibilities to get a better idea of what exactly you will be doing.

Common Interview Questions on Both Sides

Studying the company and the people you'd be meeting is already a great leap forward. The next step is preparing for the actual interview. Negotiations can vary quite a lot depending on the company and the position you're applying to. Always research common interview questions according to professions - specialized recruiting resources will help you with that, too. Still, watch out for some seemingly generic questions that may have nothing to do with your professional skills but are designed to see if you are a good fit for the company.

Tricky questions recruiters can ask

  • **Where do you see yourself in five years? **This question has been around for some time, but HRs keep asking it to see how career-focused a candidate is. As a fresh graduate, you may not have any clearly defined career goals yet - and it is okay to say so. The best approach is to stay honest and openly say what you expect to do, not give a step-by-step plan that you probably do not have (yet).
  • Describe a time when you made a mistake: we all make mistakes, but not all of us learn from our mistakes. The trick is to show that you can understand and accept failure.
  • **What would you do in a conflicting situation? **Here, the HR may give more specific examples of a situation. The goal is to evaluate your communication skills, not just problem- or conflict-solving abilities. As you research job responsibilities, think of the potential workplace conflicts and how you would resolve them because this question may pop up at an interview.
  • Why would you like to work in this company? That is where your previous research will prove most useful. Speak about company projects that you like, the new initiatives, and the opportunities you see. You do not need to flatter, but you definitely should not talk about things you plan to improve in a company. With that, you need to wait till you're hired.

Questions candidates should ask the HRs

Candidates, too, are expected to ask questions. The surest way to show your interest is to ask specific job-related questions. Generally, this will be possible if you are talking to your potential supervisor. If not, you can always ask recruiters more about the company culture and future career opportunities. For example:

  • How did this position become available?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of this position?
  • Can you tell more about the work culture?
  • Are there any opportunities for part-time or remote work?
  • Are there any opportunities for career growth? Learning?

These questions indicate that you are genuinely interested in a position and would like to do your best for your career growth and the company's development.

Body Language Signs to Watch Out For

Body language plays a significant part in human communication, and even though not every sign or gesture can be fully controlled, you can still do a few things to make a better impression. Pay attention to:

  • Eye contact: it's a fragile balance, of course - you do not want to stare too much. Still, industry experts say that the best eye contact balance is about 70%. This shows both your confidence and your interest in the conversation.
  • Posture: aim for a relatively relaxed position with a straight back. It's okay to lean a little towards when you listen to whatever your interviewer is saying - this shows your interest and readiness to communicate. Most importantly, no slouching or fidgeting.
  • Hand gestures: the most important thing is not to clench fists or show any other signs of getting 'defensive.' Sitting with your hands 'glued' to the chair also conveys a very similar defensive impression. Aim for the golden middle with smooth gestures and open palms.

Still, the main trick to mastering the art of body language during job interviews is to stay calm and as sincere as possible. This way, your words and movements will remain 'in sync,' which is the most important thing, proving that you're confident and even-balanced - that is, a strong candidate.

These are the top things you should know when preparing for your job interviews. And, if you do all the prep work right, the chances are - you will not have to sit through many of those!

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