Here's the scenario: You're at your job interview and waiting for it to start. In your head is everything you learned in college, where you prepared for 4 years for this job. But are you ready? Did you do your homework on how to introduce yourself during a job interview?
Wait. What homework?
Before you can start working and building a career, there's that one small hurdle you need to overcome: the job interview. And every job interview begins with you introducing yourself.
And here's the thing, there are no second chances at this. It's not like an email–you cannot undo this.
"You don't want to blow a chance to introduce yourself to a senior executive," said Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a recruiter for several Fortune 500 companies, in a Forbes article.
So let's get you prepared. What kind of homework do you need to do before a job interview ?
When we see a job we like, most of the time we click Submit Application and hope for the best. But companies prefer applicants who take the extra step to find out more about the company they’re applying to and the position they’re applying for.
By doing research, you are showing your interest in their history, milestones, and origins. On a personal level, you'll also see if the company's core values align with yours.
You'll also be more prepared for the interview because you studied the job and its responsibilities. You can also tailor your introduction to your qualifications.
For example, you can mention that you have a mastery of MS Excel skills if you're applying for an accounting position. Or, say you found out the company uses Quickbooks. Let the employer know how much experience you have with this.
Have a script prepared before a job interview. You can write down a whole spiel. Or you can jot down the key ideas and work from there. For example, say you're applying for a job as a researcher. Write down what you've done.
Memorize these 3 key points and elaborate on them during the interview.
What's good about memorizing a speech is that you won't miss out on anything you want to say. But it becomes problematic when you sound like you're just reciting something. It might lack that spontaneous and conversational feel. If you're going to memorize your introduction, practice it in a way that won't make you sound robotic or as if you're reading it. You could even memorize only the key ideas you want to share about yourself.
Practice your tone of voice. You may not be aware, but you might sound aggressive or arrogant. Know the difference between sounding confident and self-aware versus sounding arrogant.
On another note, when discussing the company you're applying to, avoid too much flattery or you might appear insincere. Of course, everyone wants to impress a potential employer, but we shouldn't lay it on thick.
For example, the following sounds like an insincere compliment: "I love your stand on climate change in one of your blogs. It answers all the world's problems. I think world leaders should listen to your stand."
A better way of saying it without sounding insincere is: "Your blog about climate change is very informative. I learned a lot from it."
Practicing your tone helps you lose the nervousness that comes with job interviews. Shift that nervousness to excitement instead.
Usually, interviewers start by saying, " Tell us about yourself." While this may sound like a “getting to know you” statement, it wants to find out "Are you a good fit for this job?" As such, you need to start your introduction strong by focusing on your background, skills, and experience.
While you're expected to mention certain things about your background (such as family and civil status) what they really want to know is whether you're qualified and skilled enough for the position. Keep the background portion of the introduction brief so you can focus on the important things.
After introducing yourself, you can get into the details of your skills, experience, and professional history. This should be the meatier part of your introduction. This is where the interviewers will anchor their first impressions based on what you can bring to the table.
While it's important to show enthusiasm about the job, too much can also be a turn-off. Over-enthusiastic applicants reflect an inability to control emotions. When they cannot control their emotions, they might also be unable to handle stress.
In a study by Professor Karin Sanders for UNSW Business School, she found that interviewers prefer job seekers who are "emotionally restrained and exuberant."
"My name is Yolanda. I graduated in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. I did my internship at La Scala, an Italian pizzeria in Australia. I love traveling and trying out new restaurants, which is one of the reasons why I took up HRM."
This intro took less than a minute, but it was packed with information. You can tell that Yolanda is applying for a job in a restaurant and that her experience and interests align with the job.
Yolanda can also highlight her experience working in La Scala. For example:
"During my first week of internship, I bussed tables, but the next week, they moved me to reception to greet customers and lead them to their tables. In my second month, I also handled reservations and cashiering. Finally, in my third and last month, I assisted the manager with the whole operation, such as cleanliness, reception, payment system, menu preparation, inventory of stocks, and other nitty-gritty details of running a restaurant."
This is one way to make a good impression. It's concise. It's simple. And it gives an idea of what Yolanda can handle.
You can take this example and apply it to your own introduction by breaking it down into these components:
Let's turn to appearances and learn how to look professional when interviewing for a job.
Now that you've researched the company, you have an idea of the company culture and attire. For example, people in the banking industry tend to dress in business or business formal. As such, a suit and tie are appropriate for this conservative environment.
On the other hand, if you're applying for a startup company, you can dress for comfort. Smart casual or even casual works in these environments. Jeans and sneakers are acceptable.
It will also depend on the position you're after. For example, manager applicants should always dress more formally. We want you to look like a leader. Meanwhile, fresh graduates are usually given leeway regarding interview attire.
Still, whether formal or casual, grooming is a must. Smell good, iron your clothes, and clean your shoes. Don't walk into an interview room if your shoes are dusty or dirty. Trim your hair before the interview if it's a little shaggy, and color it if the roots are showing.
A study done by StandOut CV and JD-Library found that 79% of employers now conduct their interviews online, and 45% of employers said video interviews speed up the hiring process. Meanwhile, the global coaching platform BetterUp concurs that virtual interviews are here to stay.
Now that online interviews have become a norm, how do we prepare for a virtual interview ?
Overall, a virtual interview is just like a face-to-face interview. Follow all the interview rules to properly introduce yourself, but perhaps enunciate a little more clearly in case of microphone issues.
But what if it's a group interview? How do you manage that? Here are some interesting tips:
Behavioral interviews are a technique used by employers to evaluate your interpersonal skills, test your work ethic, and determine your workplace behavior. This type of interview is more about citing examples of how you led a team rather than stating that you led a team. For example, the questions can be:
Seeing as behavioral interviews are more interested in your personality and competency, introduce yourself during an interview in the same way. For example, talk about your achievements or describe how your last job was similar to the job you're applying for now. But give more emphasis to your work ethic and concrete examples of how you are in the workplace.
According to Murphy's Law, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." And that applies to job interviews too. Because you're entering uncharted territory–at least on your part–you don't know how the interview will go, who will interview you, and what will be asked.
For example, in your nervousness, you forget the name of the person interviewing you. One way to avoid this is by asking beforehand who will interview you and taking note of this.
Another difficult situation is the language barrier. For example, you can't understand what's being said because of the person’s accent. You can overcome this through mirroring, where you repeat what the other person is saying for clarification. For example, if an interviewer says, "Do you jog?" in an unfamiliar accent, follow up with, "Jogging? Like exercise? Do I run?"
Another challenge of language barriers is using jargon and idioms. Avoid using these during a cross-cultural interview in case you get them wrong.
On another note, you might be asked by the interviewer to re-introduce yourself. That can be difficult because it might seem like a trick question. Are you supposed to repeat your first introduction, or are you supposed to add something else? It would be wise to follow the pattern of how you would re-introduce yourself to people who don't remember you.
It's both important and advantageous to follow up after an interview as it speaks well of your manners. Here are some reasons why you should follow up after an interview:
In your follow-up email, it's important to start it off with a thank-you note. Express your gratitude that they took the time to interview you. Here's what else you should mention in your follow-up email.
First impressions matter. Half of the reason you land a second interview could be because of the way you introduced yourself during the first interview. First impressions can become a company's barometer of your suitability for the role they seek. Prepare for your introduction by writing down key notes and putting your best foot forward during the interview.
And most importantly, be sincere and honest when introducing yourself.
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