Interview Tips

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Interview tips

Interview Preparation

The toughest part of securing a job can be the interview – that moment when you come face to face with a prospective employer. Getting through an interview and making it work effectively is something everyone can do. It just takes preparation.

Conduct basic Interview Research

  • Find out as much as you can about the interview. Ask who will be involved in the interview. Will you meet the manager you will be working for, or will you talk to HR?
  • What is the dress code? Dress better than suggested.
  • If you don’t have a detailed job description, ask for one.
  • Find out where the interview will be, obtain clear directions and confirm the time plus the name and position of the person interviewing you. Keep a phone number to call if you get stuck in traffic. If you arrive late and stressed the interview will not go well. Ideally you should arrive 5 – 10 minutes early to prepare yourself.
  • Establish what the process will be – will there be second interviews or further assessments etc.

Research the Company

  • Researching the company and the industry in which they operate shows initiative, enthusiasm and a keen interest in the role.
  • The fastest way to conduct research on a company is online at the company’s website. Try to establish what the company’s core products and services are and what they say about them.
  • Research the company’s competitors and the industry as a whole
  • How big is the company in terms of annual sales or employees?
  • What recent news (such as a new product, a press release) can you discuss at interview?
  • Call the company to obtain a copy of their annual report if available.

Prepare yourself

  • You should ensure you prepare thoroughly so that you are able to talk comfortably about yourself, your experience and how it relates to the role.
  • Be familiar with your CV and prepared to answer questions from it. Similarly, ensure you have read the job description thoroughly and think of ways in which your experience will benefit your potential employer.
  • Prepare yourself in advance for common interview questions. Refer to our interview questions for some practical examples.
  • Conduct practice interviews with friends and family until you can comfortably answer each question without hesitation.
  • Take copies of qualifications, certificates, past performance appraisals and examples of your work where possible.

Personal Presentation

You know the old saying – First Impressions count! Prepare your interview outfit the night before, get a good night’s rest and always get an early start. The last thing you want is to arrive at the interview flustered and panicked because you couldn’t find a parking spot. Your presentation should be well groomed and make up and jewellery should be kept to a minimum. You want the interviewer to notice you – not your earrings!

Highlighting your strengths

Review the job description carefully and try to determine what the client will be looking for in terms of skills and personality. Match them to your own strengths. Think of some specific examples of past achievements or behaviour that will demonstrate your strengths in those areas.

You can talk about times you’ve really felt proud of an achievement. These examples demonstrate all those hard to measure qualities like judgement, initiative, teamwork or leadership. Wherever possible, quantify what you’ve done e.g. “increased sales by 20%” or “cut customer call waiting time in half.”

Achievement stories make you memorable, which is what you want. You should be able to back up any examples you provide in your resume.

The Interview

  • Relax and have confidence in your research and preparation
  • Make sure your mobile phone is switched off
  • If asked to complete an application form, make sure you take care to be accurate and neat –it will be considered as part of the interview process.
  • Greet your interviewer standing, with a firm handshake.
  • Smile! In addition to the enthusiasm it expresses, smiling makes you feel better.
  • Good body language is vital. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor to demonstrate your interest and energy. Putting hands in your pocket or playing with your hair etc. creates a poor impression. Never overuse your hands – it can be distracting.
  • Speak clearly and confidently. Show genuine interest in the company and the role and be able to express the skills you have to offer to the organisation.
  • Try and maintain a comfortable level of eye contact throughout.
  • Don’t rush to fill in silence. Think before you speak.
  • Use practical examples to illustrate your skills and show how they suit the role and the company.
  • Never give negative comments or criticism of a former employer.
  • Do not raise salary questions at the first interview unless the company does first.
  • Close the interview with a handshake and a genuine thank you – make a positive last impression. If you have an opportunity you can again demonstrate your genuine interest in the role.

Above all – be yourself!