Author: Ana Alibegova
This article by Ana Alibegova is another one in the series of advice-giving articles that was started by ‘How to Have a Successful Application’. It lists all the elements you need to pay attention to in order to get a scholarship or a job.
After the application has been filled out, the CV and the motivation letter have been sent, the next step is getting a call for an interview. The interview is the part of the application procedure where you can best show what kind of person you are and whether you are the one that is best suited for the particular scholarship programme or job position.
Usually people think that having an interview is not difficult at all. If you are one of them, I regret to tell you that the interview itself gives the most apt articulation of someone’s abilities and personality. When faced with your potential employers or a jury selecting the scholarship winners you better not start off by talking about your professional background, personal experiences and future plans. If you want to succeed in an interview, then you should really work on your rhetoric skills, develop your soft skills and try to stress your strengths as a worker. You should always use the interview to present yourself as a professional, but also as a normal person, with his/her daily routines, hobbies and interests. Never forget to link your personality with the job position you apply for, because this is a kind of a guarantee that you will do your best at the working place. Moreover, this is extremely important when applying for a scholarship, because most of the programmes seek a specific professional, but also a personal profile of the candidates.
Preparation for an interview and verbal communication
The interviews are always stressful, no matter how many interviews you have done before. The best way to reduce stress is to prepare for the interview. Human resources experts suggest making a shortlist of possible questions that the jury may ask. Always think about questions such as: Why did you apply for this programme?, What do you think you can get out of it?, What are your future plans?, How did you find out about this job?, etc. Some theoreticians argue that there are three types of interview questions: behaviour-based questions, questions to think and questions to ask. The questions based on behaviour mostly concentrate on the participant’s experiences and require detailed answers. Questions to think are the questions that construct future imaginary situations, such as ‘where you see yourself in 10 years in this company?’. The questions to ask a question come at the end, and it is usually that moment when the employer asks the candidate if he/she has any additional questions. It is recommended to prepare questions that primarily concern the company or the job position you apply for, but still, during the first interview try to avoid questions about the monthly pay.
A great number of the interview questions are based on the information provided in the CV and the letter of motivation. You might be asked about specific activities, regarding the job position or the scholarship programme. What is extremely important during the interview is to show that you are as motivated as when you wrote the cover letter. Before the interview day, go through all your documents and make notes on the most important professional experiences. That will help you not to forget to stress the details that distinguish you from the other candidates.
After the preparation, it is time for the interview. The interview starts with your arrival at the place where it will be done. The first impression is crucial and therefore the candidate should look decent, behave well and stay calm. You should keep this calmness during the whole interview, staring from the introductory speech, where the members of the jury will be presented, until the very end.
Non-verbal communication – or how to control your body language
Not only are first impressions and verbal communication important, but also non-verbal communication plays a significant role. Having an eye contact is a must. Looking around when somebody is talking is a clear sign of lack of interest and showing no respect. Having no eye-contact, or popularly called ‘staring at the wall’ means that the person has lack of self-confidence, and it can sometimes even be interpreted as the candidate not saying the truth. Business communication experts recommend that instead of showing a stiffed look and a sad face you should have a gentle smile. The body posture is examined as well; you should not be extremely demonstrative. However, there are some differences between cultural traditions; in some countries you should be very aware of one’s private sphere. That’s why business communication follows some general rules, but is still influenced by the cultural and social environment.
What you should never forget concerning the interview
The time – a key factor that helps an interview be consistent, clear and structured. There is not anything more important than time. Always try to give concrete and structured answers, avoid philosophizing or explaining each thing in detail. You should also never forget that during the interview you have to be an active listener. Candidates should listen carefully to the interviewers. Also, they should not argue with the interviewer. Candidates should behave normally, and they shouldn’t show off. They should be neither too excited, nor too stiff. Moreover, they shouldn’t be showing signs of being too desperate for a job, or that they can do any job. What helps you leave a positive impression is the positive energy you spread around you. Some surveys show that in many cases the people do not remember the words they heard, but the feeling they had while hearing those words.