9 Tips For a Great Job Interview

Yes, I mentioned it in my latest monthly review:

I recently got a promotion! 🙂

As you already know, saving and investing as much as possible is essential to reaching FI. Of course, there are two important variables that can be changed to increase one’s ability to save. I’m talking, of course, about expenses and income.

On the expense front, I believe mine are already quite well optimized and it can only be lowered so far. I already lead a rather frugal life. So I decided to take a page from my own book and increase my income. A particularly interesting way to do this is to increase my hourly wage. This way, I earn more money working more hours. Double win!

In my current role, I actually asked for a raise last year. I got 12%. Just for asking for it! Imagine if I hadn’t had the courage to do it?

Be Open to Opportunities

This year, though, I could hardly see how I could get such a substantial raise in my current role again. So, I began to look for a different position within the same company.

I quickly found an interesting position one level higher, i.e. a 7.5% salary raise, and for which I seemed to meet the profile they were looking for.

Of course, it was in a completely different team and I didn’t know anyone on that team. I didn’t necessarily meet all the requirements mentioned on the job posting. My resume needed a makeover. I had to do a cover letter. Job interviews are stressful.

Considering all this, I could have used any one of these excuses not to give it a try. I know a lot of people around me who like to make this kind of excuses to stay in the status quo. Well, I decided to go for it.

Personally, I prefer to think I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I applied for the job. Because if you do not ask, the answer will always be no. 🙂

Preparation is Key

No matter how much self-confidence I have, I remain an introvert through and through. I am comfortable writing, but oral presentations have never been my forte. You can imagine how a job interview can make me anxious.

I am very aware of my weaknesses in this regard. I also know that the best weapon against my anxiety is preparation.

Here is the result of my research, preparation and experience. This is how I got my promotion. Who knows, maybe you’ll find it useful!

1. Prepare for the Most Frequently Asked Questions

A simple search on Google or YouTube will allow you to find plenty of resources on the most frequently asked questions and how to answer them. Questions such as:

  • Tell me about yourself;
  • What are your strengths;
  • What are your weaknesses;
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years;
  • Why did you apply for the job;
  • Why do you want to quit your current job;
  • Etc.

Just check out a few sites or videos to get a good idea. There are plenty of people who have already been on the other side of the table who know exactly what questions will be asked and how to answer them.

This way, you’ll be able to think about your answers and be ready for most questions you could be asked.

2. Prepare Elaborate Answers and Stories

In addition to the typical questions, there are often questions that can be adapted to the job. You might be asked to give an example of a particular situation that you’ve experienced in the past. For example, you may be asked to give an example of:

  • A difficult situation at work;
  • A difficult customer;
  • Particularly good customer service you’ve given or received;
  • Work overload and how you handled it;
  • Etc.

So it’s very helpful to have some career highlights in mind when you’re being asked these kinds of questions. Think about difficult or stressful situations, but especially how you overcame them. Also think about some good things you’ve done, procedures or methods you’ve improved, etc.

These kinds of questions can be really annoying if you don’t have some ready-made answers in your back pocket. You have to be quick to answer. Of course, you can take a few seconds to think about it, but you don’t want to answer that nothing comes to mind. It’s your time to shine, don’t waste it!

3. Learn More About the Position, the Team and the Company

You don’t want to look like someone who applied for the job just for fun or for the money. 😉

You must show that you have at least some knowledge of the position in question and that you are really interested. The first thing to do is to read and basically know the job posting by heart. Sometimes job postings just sound so abstract, and it’s hard to know exactly what the job involves without actually doing it, but reading the job posting will give you at least an idea.

If it’s a job for another employer, it’s good to know the company in question. Do your research.

4. Smile and Have a Positive Attitude

No one wants to hire a negative person.

Be enthusiastic, smile, ask questions, look interested and thank the interviewer. Show them that you’re happy to be there, that it’s a pleasure to meet them and to discuss opportunities for your future career.

Positive attracts positive, so be positive.

In addition to talent and qualifications, employers are often looking for a good fit. I guarantee that a person who sounds and looks negative will rarely be a good fit in any team. It doesn’t matter what team.

5. Remember It’s Not an Interrogation

An interrogation sucks for everyone.

Relax, remember that the person in front of you is a human being too who wants the process to be as enjoyable as possible. You may be the fifth person they’ve interviewed today. Make it a little more enjoyable for them.

Ask questions along the way, too, if you have any. It creates a nice back and fort and makes the conversation more natural.

6. Save Questions for the End

Inevitably, you will be asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview. It is important to have questions.

Once again, it shows interest, curiosity and, it could actually be useful to you. You probably have legitimate questions on your mind anyway. It’s a win-win situation.

Again, Google is full of suggestions of questions to ask if you’re short of ideas. Here’s one I wrote down, asked, and am particularly proud of:

“After our discussion, is there anything else that makes you hesitate to offer me the job?”

What makes this question so powerful is that it gives an idea of your chances. It also shows that you are able to take charge and handle criticism. Finally, it could give you a second chance to clarify or elaborate on a point that was perhaps not clear or that makes the interviewer hesitate.

However, if you have questions about benefits and working conditions, it can wait until after you’re offered the job.

7. Send a Thank-You Email

I know. It feels like sucking up.

I read on several websites that it was important to send a thank-you email within 24 hours of the interview. Once again, it allows you to show you’re really interested, and it shows your gratitude. That’s another example of having nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I was still reluctant to do it. Probably my introversion striking again. So I asked the opinion of a friend who interviews candidates on a regular basis. His answer was clear: it’s an excellent thing to do. So I proceeded with a nice little email:

“It was a real pleasure to discuss with you both and to learn as much about the role as about your team. It has only increased my enthusiasm to join you and put my experience to good use. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

I still think it sounds lame, but an hour later I was asked to provide references.  It sounds like it didn’t do any harm. 🙂

8. Notify the People You Will Use as References

Seriously.

No one likes to be called for references without prior notice. A quick phone call or email to notify the person is the least you can do. That person will appreciate having time to think about what they can say. You want the person to recommend you after all. Don’t take them by surprise.

It’s also a good idea to think ahead of time whom to use as a reference. If you are asked for one, it’s suspicious if it takes you two days to find one. Are you recommendable or not?

9. Be Patient

You’ve now done everything within your power. All that’s left is to trust your ability to have swayed them and wait for the good news. 🙂

A Great Learning Opportunity

Even before I got the good news, I was over the moon. I knew that I had prepared enough and performed well during the interview. No matter the result, I had had the opportunity to put myself out there and make myself known. It can never be a bad thing.

Even if I was not offered the job, I would roll up my sleeves and keep looking. You just have to appreciate having had a chance to prove yourself, to practise your interview skills and to make yourself known. You also have to take criticism humbly and then start working on your weaknesses.

I don’t remember the exact phrase, but a dear friend shared a quote to me recently. It said that to be happy no matter the outcome is a superpower. I couldn’t agree more. 🙂

All’s Well That Ends Well

Luckily, I was offered the job! I will be starting on February 15th in my new position. I have been told that I was “a great find” and that they’re looking forward to working with me. What more could I ask for?

Oh, yes, the raise that I plan to fully save and invest. 🙂

I’m also hopeful that I’ll enjoy my new role. Although I was hired for my insurance expertise, there is a retirement & saving component that I will need to be “trained” for. I believe I am up to the challenge. 😉

I see a trend emerging! Indeed, it’s nice to see I’m not the only one in the blogosphere to have been promoted recently. Indeed,  ObjectifIF and L’Ingénieuse will also be able to increase their savings thanks to a promotion. Huge congratulations to them and I wish them the best of success!

What about you? Have you thought about how you could increase your income in 2021? 🙂

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4 Comments

  1. Congratulations on getting that promotion, it’s a great feeling isn’t it?

    I have a feeling that I should be asking for a raise as well.. I feel like I’ve given so much for the company yet received back so little. At some point, I gotta get paid for it to be worth my time.

    • Thank you so much!

      Honestly, it never even crossed my mind before last year to ASK for a raise, besides just get the regular yearly one. I’m glad I worked up the courage to do it, because I got 12% and I NEVER would have gotten that if I had not asked. A clear case of “nothing to lose, and everything to gain”. I highly encourage you to give it a try if you do believe you deserve one! Just be prepared to have some good arguments and examples of why you’re worth more than what you’re currently being paid. 🙂

  2. ‘Remember It’s Not an Interrogation’ is such a good one! 😂I hate interviews for this reason, I feel like I’m under attack! Good advice and congrats on the promotion! ☺️

    • I’ve never been the one interviewing people, but I bet it’s a pain for them too when it feels too much like an interrogation. I figure they’d like for it to be painless too, right? 🙂

      Thanks a bunch for reading and commenting!

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