It doesn’t matter how many interviews you’ve had: the first interview with a new company, the cognitive one, inevitably remains a moment of great tension. It is unknown. Always. For all candidates.
You try to present yourself and your skills as best as possible. Try to effectively answer the recruiter’s multiple questions. Try to show enthusiasm and interest in the position, with the hope of making a great first impression on the recruiter.
Coping successfully with this situation can be difficult. Especially if you are interviewing for a position you strongly desire, and anxiety and pressure are felt and do not help you. However, there are several ways to make the interview less stressful and win over the recruiter. The secret lies in good preparation.
The more time you spend preparing thoroughly, the more comfortable you will feel during the interview. But remember, the interview is not an exam: you don’t have to study for hours, and you don’t have to know the answers by heart. In reverse! Just do the right research on the company, understand what the recruiter is looking for and make sure you know how to talk about your experiences and the qualities that make you a good match for that role.
The key to having a successful interview is to show confidence and confidence, to be positive, and to show the recruiter what sets you apart from the rest of the candidates. With good preparation, you will be able to cope well with the interview and ensure that you remain in the running for the position you want.
Tips for taking the cognitive interview
Practice your answers
To prepare yourself for the best interview, read the most frequently asked questions (you’ll find them below) and prepare your answers. The best answers to give to the recruiter are the specific but concise ones, in which you tell about concrete episodes, which took place in the workplace, where you have demonstrated that you have the qualities you speak of.
I recommend that you discuss the skills and qualifications relevant to the job you are applying for. To do this, you will need to carefully read the job advertisement, evaluate the requirements, and create the match with your experience and skills.
Finally, prepare a list of the questions you want to ask the recruiter. In fact, the recruiter will ask you if you have any doubts to dispel: that will be your opportunity to ask what is not clear to you and to show the recruiter that you have a great interest in the role and the company, and therefore you want to know more.
Get to know the breeder
One way to help you reduce the stress and tension of the cognitive interview is to know who will conduct the selection interview: to know the recruiter you will meet.
You can use LinkedIn and other tools to search for the recruiter and understand who they are, what career path they have followed, and get an idea of the person you will be facing and who will ask you the questions.
This is a good strategy to get an idea of the recruiter and be more comfortable with her/him during the interview.
Research the company and show what you know
Before coming to the interview you must take the right time to research the company and gather as much information as possible: the company’s mission, future goals, the sector in which it operates, how it works.
In this way, when the recruiter asks you “What do you know about the company?” you will be ready to show that you have done detailed research and explain why you are strongly interested in working for that company.
For your research, use the company’s website, search for the latest news, follow social networks, find out about employees and management. Then try to conduct research on LinkedIn to learn more about the people who work in the company, their professional history, and see if they share any updates about the company on their profiles.
Prepare everything in advance
Don’t wait until the last minute to choose the right outfit, print your resume, or get yourself a notebook. Try to prepare everything you need for the interview to have everything ready the night before the appointment with the recruiter and not have to do everything in a hurry just before the interview.
Being ready well in advance will help you reduce the agitation of the interview, not to forget important things, and avoid gaffes. Also, on the morning of the interview, you will have the right time to dedicate yourself to reviewing your answers and re-reading your notes.
Make sure you present yourself neatly, have cleaned and ironed your clothes, and make sure they are suitable for the role you are applying for. The recruiter appreciates candidates who pay attention to detail and want to make a good impression by presenting themselves at their best.
Be on time
Punctuality is essential to make a good first impression at the interview. Being on time, in this case, means showing up for the appointment 10-15 minutes early.
It doesn’t matter if you have to wait a few minutes before being greeted by the recruiter, the recruiter will appreciate your punctuality and will think that you are a trustworthy and respectful person.
Being early will allow you to avoid any delays caused by traffic or unfamiliarity with the place you need to go. All of this will reduce your stress and allow you to focus solely on your performance at the interview.
A little tension during the interview can help you keep your guard up and not take some important questions from the recruiter lightly. However, make sure you are calm and casual in front of the recruiter.
Body language communicates more than your words. It is therefore important to show confidence also through your attitude, and preparation will help you do this.
When answering questions, make sure you maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Pay attention to the questions he asks you without interrupting him and before answering, take a couple of seconds to formulate your answer in the best possible way. Avoid long pauses of silence and exclamations like “er”.
Follow up after the interview
Even if it is not mandatory, a thank-you email to the recruiter, after having undergone the cognitive interview, is always well appreciated. In this email, in addition to thanking him for the time he has dedicated to you and the opportunity, you can mention the details that you missed during the interview or send him some material you discussed during the interview.
The thank-you email makes it clear to the recruiter that you are attentive, respectful, and that you have a lot of interest in the role.
The 7 most frequently asked questions
These are the 7 most frequently asked questions of the interview or those that the recruiter is most likely to ask you. For each question, I’ll tell you what the recruiter wants to know and in the next section, I’ll give you some advice on how to answer.
Tell me about yourself
What the recruiter wants to know: With this question, the recruiter wants to break the ice and make you comfortable. It is also a way for him/her to get an overview of who you are and begin to understand if you can be a good match for the role.
Create a short two-minute presentation of yourself describing your background and what led you to apply for that position.
Read on to learn how to answer the question Tell me about her and see the best answers.
What were your responsibilities?
What the recruiter wants to know: To answer this question, before going to the interview, you will need to remember the responsibilities you had in the work experiences listed on your resume.
This way you will be ready, when the recruiter asks you to talk about the tasks you have done, to accurately and confidently describe everything you were in charge of.
Make sure you talk about the factors that are most relevant to the position you are applying for – showing that you have the qualities you will need in a new position is essential to getting the recruiter to consider you.
What did you like most and least about your previous job?
What the recruiter wants to know: The recruiter wants to know what you liked best and what you disliked about your previous job to understand if those elements will be present in your potential new job.
The recruiter wants to try to understand how you will find yourself in the company and if you will be adequate to fill that role. Pay attention to the things you say, especially if the job you are applying for is similar to your previous one.
In this case, try to keep the things you least liked to yourself. You must be enthusiastic and positive about the role you are applying for.
What challenges and problems did you face in the workplace? How did you manage them?
What the recruiter wants to know: With this question, the recruiter wants to understand how you handle problems, conflicts, and above all how you react to stressful situations at work.
Can you find solutions when needed? Do you have the right problem-solving skills? Do you like challenges or do you work badly under pressure?
Whatever your answer is, to support your claims talk to the recruiter of episodes in which you have concretely demonstrated that you can handle difficult situations and explain how you did it.
What is your strong point?
What the recruiter wants to know: To answer the question about your strengths, focus on the skills you have that will be essential to doing the job you are applying for.
Don’t be too modest, the recruiter needs to see how qualified you are. At the same time, don’t be arrogant by bragging about skills you don’t have. Every answer you give will need to be supported by a concrete example that proves to the recruiter that you actually have that talent.
What’s your biggest flaw?
What the recruiter wants to know: The recruiter wants to make sure that a bad trait of you won’t stop you from doing the job right if you’re hired.
There are several ways you can answer questions about your flaws and weaknesses. One way is to transform a negative characteristic into a positive one, explaining how what might seem like a weakness instead served you at work (for example, being fussy). And another is to talk about a weakness that you know will not be a problem for your work.
Why do you want to work for us?
What the recruiter wants to know: With this question, the recruiter wants to make sure you’re convinced they want that role.
They want to make sure you’ve conducted all research on the company and the role before joining apply, that you have achievable career goals in that context and that you have the right enthusiasm and the right skills to bring to the company.
How to answer the interviewer’s questions
The answers you give to the interviewer’s questions, the way you answer, the details you talk about, and even your body language all affect the interviewer’s assessment of you as a candidate.
Therefore, you must know how to prepare yourself to answer the questions of the interview taking into account all the factors that come into play.
Before the interview
- Research the company: we have already talked about the importance of collecting information on the company you have applied for. Not only to show the recruiter that you know the company and that you have thoroughly informed yourself, but also to tailor your responses to align with the company’s culture, mission, and goals.
- Practice a lot: the more time you spend building your answers, the more comfortable you will feel in front of the interviewer. Practice answering the most frequently asked questions and if you need to, talk to a friend or family member to make sure your answers are clear and effective.
- Know your history: Thoroughly review what you have done during your work experiences, it may seem obvious but most candidates struggle to remember their professional history in front of the recruiter. When this asks you the questions, you need to be able to answer quickly and confidently.
During the interview
- Stay calm: the interview is always stressful. However, in front of the recruiter you will have to do everything to show confidence and tranquility: good preparation, being on time, having a well-groomed look, smiling … they will help you manage stress.
- Take your time: don’t rush to answer questions by saying the first thing that comes to mind. Before answering, give yourself a couple of seconds to think about what you will say and the facts you will bring to support your statements, this way your answers will be direct and relevant.
- Give concrete examples: To build effective responses, and make the interviewer trust you and what you say, be sure to tell concrete episodes that demonstrate what you say in words. The example is a test for the recruiter to understand if you are actually telling the truth.
- Listen: Remember that listening carefully to the interviewer as they ask you the question is essential to building a good, relevant, and comprehensive answer. You don’t have to be vague or off-topic, so let me finish the question before you speak.
- Ask for clarification: If you are not sure what the recruiter is asking you, or are concerned that you have misunderstood the question, ask the recruiter for clarification. It is better to ask rather than give the wrong answer that could make you miss the job opportunity.
- Be professional: your answers must speak about you from a professional point of view, there is no need for you to tell the recruiter personal facts, apart from in some exceptional cases. And more importantly, don’t talk about facts or situations where your personal life has hindered your work. There is no need to alarm the recruiter.
- Ask questions: at the end of the interview, the last question the recruiter will ask you is: “Do you have any questions for me?”. Be prepared to ask him a series of questions to dispel your doubts about the role and the company and to show him all your interest.
Finally, don’t forget to thank the recruiter for the interview opportunity. During the interview and at the end of this one, remember that education and professionalism are essential to make a great impression and hope to get a second job interview.