Preparing for your interview will be the key to its success. This article aims to help you understand how best to prepare, what to expect on the day, how you should conduct yourself throughout your interview and hints on what to avoid.
INTERVIEW PREPARATION - THE BASICS
- Research the company fully using the internet, business press and people who may have worked there previously
- Arrive on time and allow plenty of time in case of heavy traffic, train delays etc.
- Take copies of written references with you if you have them and bring along any supporting documentation with you feel might be helpful
- Answer questions honestly and straight-forward
- Be positive about your experience. Focus on the strengths and de-emphasise any weaknesses
- Have several final questions prepared for the interviewers to demonstrate that you are interested in the role
- Be confident, cheerful and enthusiastic, but take care not to be perceived as overbearing, over-confident or arrogant
- Let your personality shine through
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Dress smartly in business attire. It’s always better to make an effort and create a good first impression
- Think of specific examples as supporting evidence for your experience and think about how your experience relates to the specific role
- You need to feel prepared to be at your best, so find out whether you will need to sit any tests or make a presentation
- Re-read the job brief before the interview to remind yourself of the key skills and experience required and how these areas relate to your CV
What are the interviewers looking for?
- Interviewers are looking for relevant experience (usually gleaned by asking you for examples of workplace related situations); relevant personal characteristics for example team working, motivation, ability to work under pressure and employment consistency (looking for any gaps.)
Getting into ‘Interview mode’
- Be wary of ‘being yourself’. This does not mean you have to undergo a complete personality transformation and pretend to be someone that you’re not
- The interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself to a potential employer to fulfil your objective of getting that job
- Interviewers will generally spend just 20 – 30% of the time doing the talking – you will be expected to do the rest
- Gauge the tone of the interview and adopt it yourself. Be very careful of over-using jokes – gentle humour is about the most you should consider
- Employers are looking for confident, positive people to work for them and this should be obvious from the way you answer their questions
- If you have rehearsed your answers beforehand it will be much easier to handle the interview in an enthusiastic and confident manner
- Much is said about body language and what you should and should not do. The best advice is to ensure you project energy and enthusiasm at the interview
- If you are asked a hypothetical question, always turn it into a ‘real life’ situation and give an actual example
- By all means ask for clarification to a question if its meaning is unclear, but at this stage do not ask any other questions
Before the Interview
- Find out everything you can about the company from their website, annual reports and brochures etc.
- Find out which entrance you need to report to and who you need to ask for
- Review your CV and think through specific questions you may be asked about it
- Practice answers to common interview questions
- Prepare your own questions about the company and job
- Prepare your clothes the night before and make sure that you look presentable
- Relax and get an early night so that you feel well rested for the big day
- Consider making a ‘dummy run’ to the company so that you know how much journey time to allow
On the day
- Take the company name, address and contact details with you, together with a location map.
- Take a copy of your CV with you
- Dress smartly, arrive early and be polite to everyone you meet at company
- Have a notebook, pen and your questions to hand
REMEMBER: You are there to convince the interviewer that you can do the job, prove that you are motivated to do the job well and show them that you will fit in with the company
Throughout the interview
- In the first 5 minutes, greet the Interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake - make a good first impression. Studies show that the first few minutes of an interview count for a lot
- Always answer questions in a positive way
- Avoid criticising your previous job, employer or manager
- Avoid ‘negative’ motivations such as a desire for more money or shorter working hours
- Look attentive by leaning forward slightly in your seat - don’t slouch
- Listen keenly, nod and orally acknowledge what you are told
- Be prepared to support your answers with evidence, facts and figures
- Maintain some eye contact with everyone present
At the end of the interview
- The interviewer should ask if you have any further questions, check your list of questions and if there are any are outstanding ask them now. Remember to tell the Interviewer that you are interested in the job and leave the interview with firm handshakes to everyone present
Questions to avoid
- What does your company do?
- What will my salary be?
- Will I be work long hours?
- How soon can I take a vacation?
- Will I have an expense account?
- How quickly could I be considered for a promotion?
- What happens if I don't get along with my boss or co-workers?
- What are benefits like?
- When will I be eligible for a raise?
- Are you married?/Do you have kids?/etc.
- Do you check social media accounts?
- Do you do background checks?
- Do you monitor emails or internet usage?
- Will I have my own office?
- I heard this rumour about the CEO - is it true?
- What are grounds for termination?
- Can I make personal calls during the day?
- How did I do?
- Did I get the job?
Factors that can cost you the job
- Being unprepared
- Being late
- Poor manners
- Complaining about previous employers
- Poor communication
- Being aggressive or superior
- Making excuses
- Looking scruffy
- Lacking enthusiasm
- Being evasive or vague