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Be prepared

18 November 2014

We may think we know perfectly well why we choose to apply for certain jobs, but those very thoughts are not always easily put into words. Just like it may be hard to shortly and coherently describe traits, skills and interests. Not all of us are born storytellers. Don’t let that hold you back. There’s no need to improvise everything. There’s a need for you to be prepared.

You will most likely be asked to introduce yourself. Or to explain what sets you apart from others. Or why you chose to apply for a job at that specific company. You could prepare yourself for an interview by looking up common interview questions and by learning great answers by heart. But that could bring you in a difficult position when a question is asked that you didn’t expect. Which could happen. Some interviewers may want to put you to the test. Providing an obviously rehearsed answer won’t make a lasting impression. I firmly believe that the best way to provide a strong answer is to make sure you are well informed about the company and to be able to describe yourself with respect to the job you apply for.

Knowledge about the company

Spare yourself some awkwardness and take the time to learn more about the company you’re applying at. What is stated on the ‘About Us’ page on their website? What projects and clients does the company have? And what is shared on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Include this information in the answers you provide. At some point you may explicitly be asked to do so, but it’s good practice at any time. It’s a way of showing that you are truly interested in the job.

Self-knowledge

Your answers should never be a summary of your CV, but a coherent story that is more about you. After all, they already know what’s on your CV. You should take the opportunity an interview provides to present information that complements your CV. Show them that you have self-knowledge. And that you know how to put that knowledge into words. Don’t restrict yourself by preparing clearcut answers. Obviously reciting answers you learned in advance won’t make you the strongest applicant. Be the strongest applicant by stating who you are, what your abilities are and what your goals are. Knowing yourself and having knowledge about the company will make it easier to answer any question that is thrown at you. Not to mention that it will be easier to deliver a proper pitch when you’re not in an interview. The page ‘ Self-knowledge ’ summarizes this in three questions: Who am I? What am I capable of? What do I want to do? These questions may be simple, but the answers are not.

My interview

I had an interview in August at a company that provides communications and marketing advice. I hadn’t prepared myself for the question what project I liked best. Still I was able to come up with a proper answer. Just like I was able to come up with an answer about what I would have done differently if I would have cooperated in the project. I knew about the different projects. And I knew how to formulate my professional opinion on communication and marketing. There was enough knowledge about the company and enough self-knowledge to do some quick thinking. I answered the questions. I landed the job.

Last modified:29 November 2019 4.30 p.m.
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