Boehringer Ingelheim
23 February 2017
Jana von Puttkamer

How to make a good impression during a job interview

Congratulations. Your application was compelling and you’ve been invited in for an interview. You succeeded in standing out from the crowd of other applicants, and the company where you would like to work wants to meet you and get to know the person behind your interesting application. Preparing properly for the interview can help you win over your potential employer. Read on to learn about what you should watch for and how to handle difficult questions and address weak points.

Many people get stressed out leading up to an interview. It gives you only a short time to persuade the company that you are the best person for the job. You will need to come across as professional, while also making a good impression, demonstrating dedication and motivation, and showing that you have the experience and expertise for the job. And don’t forget to dress and act appropriately, and be aware of your body language. All this can make an applicant who does not have a lot of experience with the interview process break out in a cold sweat. But the old saying, “practice makes perfect,” applies here, too. Remember that the interviewers and HR staff sitting across from you are just people, and they have also been in similar situations sometime in their careers. The most important thing is that you:



Be yourself!


After all, you have already made it past the first stage by having them invite you in for an interview. You have hooked the fish; now you just have to reel it in. And remember that the interview is not a one-way street – the company also has to convince you that they are the right employer. Before the interview, you should think about what’s important to you and how the company can score points with you. Ultimately, both sides have to be happy with their decisions.


The first few minutes of the interview are what is called the rapport phase. Small talk about the traffic and weather is intended to create a comfortable atmosphere for both sides to get acquainted. Do not underestimate the importance of this phase. One-word answers will not keep the conversation going. After all, it is a question not only of being able to do the work, but also of everyone being able to imagine working together and getting along. If you are offered a cup of coffee or water, politely accept (or decline) with a smile.


In addition to questions about a candidate’s resume and work history, HR representatives will be trying to figure out, “Based on this candidate’s behavior, do I think he or she would represent our company well?”  Expertise in the field is not the be-all and end-all; authenticity, charisma, and demeanor play a role as well. Consider preparing for the interview by role-playing some questions and answers with a friend, and practice looking confident in front of a mirror. Make sure to think about why you want to work at this company, what’s special about the company, how you could use your skills to benefit the company, and what your career goals are. Having answers to these questions that relate to the specific company helps you come across as more authentic, thoughtful, and compelling.



Think about which of your personal qualities and skills set you apart.


Think about what you like to do in your spare time. Do you belong to a club or have any hobbies that show you are proactive and can work in a team? Which of your qualities do people close to you – such as your friends or (former) co-workers – appreciate most? Perhaps your fellow students liked collaborating with you on presentations, which demonstrates that they viewed you as responsible and reliable. Don’t fixate on just showing how your work experience has prepared you for the requirements listed in the job posting; think about your whole self.  You can draw on experiences from your private life to some extent. Giving your interviewers an opportunity to get to know you as a person reassures them that they are making the right decision. TIP: Try to think about what you would want to hear from applicants if the roles were reversed. What would be important for you to be able to decide whether you would want to hire the person for your team? When an interviewer asks you to tell a little something about yourself, this is your chance to show how your experiences, your skills, and your whole self can benefit the company. And do not forget to look your interviewers in the eye, so that they really see you. This also helps you assess them.



Why do interviewers ask typical questions like: What motivates you? How do you deal with change? Where else have you applied?


These questions are meant to find out if you have an optimistic attitude, how resilient you are, and if you can deal with unpleasant things. How do you deal with problems that crop up suddenly, and what kind of problem-solving strategies do you use? And it will show how you communicate, how goal-oriented you are, and how you handle conflict. Try to use concrete examples.



How do you deal with difficult questions or areas in your resume that could be improved?


Questions like, “You have a three-month gap in your resume. What were you doing during that time?” can really be tough. Perhaps you needed to take a breather because you had several part-time jobs as a student, and you wanted to regroup before starting your career. Maybe you traveled or took care of a sick relative? Be as open and honest as possible when answering these questions to give the company a full picture of who you are. A gap or something unusual on your resume does not mean that you won’t get the job, or you wouldn’t have been invited for an interview in the first place. Quite the contrary: you may have done something others haven’t, such as broadening your horizons or taking on an important responsibility.



Speak to your interviewers on equal footing.


It is particularly important to remember your own role in the interview, as you are also interviewing the company. Ask questions: What will be expected of you as a potential new employee? What qualities does the employer value? How is work distributed within the team and the department? What is a typical workweek like? Who is responsible for decision-making and what is the hierarchy like? How about work-life balance? Are working hours flexible and is working from home a possibility? What other benefits are offered? Are there opportunities for continuing education, fitness classes, is there a cafeteria? Have you noticed that the company’s website could stand to be improved in a few places and do you have some ideas or suggestions for ways to make it better? Have the confidence to address issues like this, because it shows how interested you are in the company and gives insight into how you tick. Facilitate a dialogue in which both sides can find out if they are a perfect match for each other, so that in the end both you and the company are happy with their decision.

"It is particularly important to remember your own role in the interview and speak to your interviewers on equal footing. "
Jana von Puttkamer

2 comment(s) for 'How to make a good impression during a job interview'


It is a good text, some times we think that we are in the right way!

Jana, this is a great all around primmer for interviewing. One thing you might want to add, is asking the applicant to do some due diligence on the company and the areas where their (The Company's) product(s) have an impact on the market and clientele. In that way, when speaking of personal skills and qualities, understanding what the company does should aid the candidate in putting those attributes in an appropriate context for a potential opening. Regards, Michael

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