Life can take you in unexpected directions, and you may have employment gaps. The important thing is how to explain these to an employer in reasonable way.
Now that you have landed the interview, be sure that you make the most of it. The job interview is probably the most important step in the job search process because it’s your chance to show the company that you’re the best person for the job. The following job interview tips and advice should give you a good head start on the competition!
Interview Tip #1: Interview preparation
- Ask for details of the interview structure, i.e. who will be interviewing you, for how long, and how many other candidates are there?
- If you need more information about the organisation ask for it at this stage.
- You cannot over-prepare for an interview.
At a basic level most MNC interviews in Japan will head off down one of two paths.
- They will begin with the interviewer describing the job and the organisation to you, before asking you to talk about yourself. This type has the advantage of allowing you time to settle down and get a feel for the personality of the interviewer(s). The disadvantage lies in the possibility of new information emerging on which you might be expected to answer questions.
- The interviewer will put you 'on stage' straight away by asking you what attracted you to the position and why you would be a suitable candidate. This approach requires you to make an immediate impact and to talk without the benefit of an established rapport. On the up side, it gives you two chances to 'sell' yourself - at the start of the interview and again at the questions stage.
Interview Tip #2: Interview skills
- Practice common interview questions. When practicing interview questions and answers, try and think of examples you could use to describe how you have dealt with different situations.
- Be fluent and confident about describing yourself and your personal capital.
- State clearly quantifiable facts about what you have to offer, based on proven achievements and future potential. Make sure you’re not boasting. It might give a negative impression in Japan.
- Remember all of the achievements from your CV and be prepared to elaborate on them, and make sure you have all your facts and figures clearly at hand. Find out more about how to write a good CV.
- Be enthusiastic about your career and what you have achieved, but avoid unnecessary detail.
- Talk in 'sound bites' until you catch the interest of the interviewer, at which point it is fine to elaborate.
- Never interrupt - even where the question is obvious, wait for the interviewer to finish before your reply.
- Listen actively - there is always something more to learn about the organisation and on which you might capitalise.
- Always use positive language to describe your past career history and never criticise former employers, bosses or colleagues - it will simply mark you down as disloyal.
Interview Tip #3: Your interview questions
- Questions provide you with a final opportunity to sell yourself to the interviewer(s).
- It is a great opportunity to find out more about the organisational structure, your prospective role in it, the nature of the job, the challenge it offers and the career potential.
- If you feel that you will not remember all the things you need to ask, write them down and ask if the interviewer minds if you refer to your notes.
- Remember to limit the time spent on questions because the panel will be irritated if you appear too demanding and throw the interview schedule off too much.
- For additional tips on questions to ask in an interview, take a look at ‘Questions to ask in a job interview’.
Interview Tip #4: Follow Up
- Always write a thank-you letter or email after an interview.
- Re-affirm your continued interest in the post and say that you hope you will be called back for a further discussion.
- If your application is unsuccessful, do not be afraid to call and ask for feedback. This can be invaluable advice to inform your next round of applications.
Additional Interview Tips
- Make eye contact.
- Remember your CV details.
- Make a note of your questions if you feel you might forget them.
- Remember interviewers have to convince you that you should join a company just as much as you need them to employ you.
- Interrupt the interviewer.
- Smoke before your interview.
- Volunteer your weaknesses.
A successful interview relies partly on thorough preparation and partly on thoughtful response to questions on the day. In addition, you can demonstrate a lot to your interviewers with your own questions and following-up effectively.
To ensure your interview is a success, internalise the interview tips above and download our Understanding the Dynamics of an Interview guide.