HOW TO GET THE JOB YOU WANT: Tips for first time interviewees

Some people are struggling to find the job they want. The major reason for this reality is that only 12% of jobs are advertised, and the majority of these adverts require work experience. If you are so fortunate to get an interview, this may be an intimidating experience. This makes it very difficult for students or other job seekers with no experience to gain employment. One of the primary barriers to employment in South Africa is the high number of unemployed applicants. Also first time job candidates must be mindful that employers will have some element of doubt as they have limited ways of understanding your potential in performing your basic work skills, team integration, and your ability to learn and develop yourself. The interview is an important step to be recognised and display the attractive attributes as a job seeker. But what can job candidates do in order to obtain employment? Here are some guidelines:

  • The first priority is to start networking. Don’t simply apply and hope and pray you will get a job. Given the fact that 88% of jobs are not advertised, you have to network more. Attend networking events, become involved at events, exhibitions and functions. You have to meet as many HR Managers and other employers as possible for you to get a chance. Be visible at platforms and get noticed. But then you have to connect well with other people – be professional, show them the value you can bring to them.
  • Stay positive. As SABPP Chairperson, Siphiwe Moyo always says: “The world owes you nothing.” Don’t become negative, you will automatically disqualify yourself with a negative attitude. Most of us do not get our dream job instantly, however this could be the stepping stone that prepares you for that dream job. Stay positive and recognise the opportunity in the experience.
  • Ensure your profile is up to date and use the elevator pitch to personalise your application and stand out from the rest.
  • Follow employers and job sites on twitter where you will see regular jobs and internship opportunities being shared with the market.
  • Become involved in voluntary work in society, e.g. at a church or other community association. Get yourself into a leadership position so that you can improve your CV.
  • When you do get an interview, prepare thoroughly. Google the company and learn as much as you can about the organisation. Follow the employer on twitter and learn about their latest news. Read the vision, mission and strategic drivers of the company. Align your thinking and competencies to their strategy. Interviewers look at how much effort you put in to get to know the company and how well you understand the position you have applied for.
  • Practice your pronunciations and breathing. It is understandable that your nerves may get the better of you, so a little bit of practice affords you the opportunity to control it. Some individuals get so nervous that they forget to pace their sentences and breathe in between. By practicing with a friend or even in front of a mirror you will be less nervous and more confident.
  • Study the job advertisement clearly. Match your own competencies with the requirements of the job. Write three important and well worded questions about the position you would like to ask the interviewer.
  • Ensure that you are at least 15 minutes early for the interview. Being early or timeous displays your respect for the interviewer and the position. It is a positive reflection of your commitment to attend the interview.
  • Ensure all paperwork requested like copies of qualifications etc. are brought to the interview.
  • Balance your own skills with knowledge of the company, impress them with a positive attitude and value you can add to the organisation. Walk in with confidence and convince the employer of your value proposition, without being arrogant or unprofessional. Displaying your competencies in the way you answer the questions during the interview.
  • Greet your panellists and maintain eye contact with all of them. Normally an introduction of the panellists will ensue, acknowledge all with a confident greeting and firm hand shake.
  • Listen to the questions carefully and ensure you understand what is being asked. Ask for clarification politely if you do not understand. Answer all questions in a clear, comprehensive, yet succinct manner.
  • Display positive body language. Sit upright and not hunched.
  • It is natural to be nervous, but control your nerves so that it is not too obvious. Take a good breath – it helps to relax and stay calm. (As you have practiced).
  • Only use professional language when you answer questions, no slang!
  • Be open and honest during the interview. If you don’t know the answer, admit it, but still maintain a positive approach. Rather focus on the fact that you can learn quickly.
  • When asked if you have any questions, never say no! Ask two or three good questions, and most of them should be about your interest in the company, its strategy and customers.
  • Give examples of where you applied the competencies, if you do not have examples then answer from a perspective of how you would apply those competencies in a relevant scenario.
  • Thank all panellists for the opportunity and walk out with confidence.
  • Make notes about the questions they asked you. Assess yourself and reflect on how you could have answered better. Chances are very good that you may get similar questions during your next interview.
  • Keep on applying for new opportunities.
  • Don’t become negative if you get rejected. Each interview is another opportunity for improvement and selling yourself. Enjoy the experience of the interview as it is the preparation to the next opportunity.
  • Read your CV again and adapt it based on what you learned during the interview. Make your competencies more visible.
  • Work on competencies you need to learn. It will assist you in the future.
  • Keep on networking and meeting people to generate more interview opportunities.
  • Develop your own unique personal brand in attracting employers to you.
  • Continue with part time and volunteering work to make your mark and to build your brand.

The above guidelines will put you on a path towards employment and becoming employable. However, it may not be easy for you in the beginning. Searching for a job is not an event, it is an active journey of positioning and promoting yourself in the job market. Even if you get an opportunity in another department that was not your first choice, e.g. administration or supply chain, take it. Start somewhere, and then move into your preferred career choice when people start to recognise your knowledge, skills and value. The most important factor will be your networking skills. Be visible, be professional, ethical and be relevant. Sitting back and waiting for opportunities will not open any doors for you. The SABPP values can be used to assist job seekers in preparing for their future interviews by:

RESPONSIBILITY: Behaving responsibly and taking accountability in driving your opportunities for interviews and jobs.
INTEGRITY: Conducting yourself with integrity and professionalism in your field, competence and skills.
RESPECT: By displaying respect for the interviewer, the position, company and most importantly yourself as a professional in the work environment.
COMPETENCE: By demonstrating your competence by providing excellent responses to questions, explaining your answers with understanding and displaying your ability to grow your competence.

Go out and create opportunities and let us know when you are employed. Best wishes with your preparation to enter the job market.

This article was written by Marius Meyer with contributions from Lathasha Subban. Follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 for daily HR news and job postings and visit the website www.sabpp.co.za