Interview Tips

With so many good candidates competing for the same job today, its becoming more and more difficult to stand out amongst the crowd. So when you are offered an interview, you need to be fully prepared. It is impossible to tell you exactly what questions will be asked and what the 'perfect' answers are because there is no such thing. Each employer will look for different answers to the same question. The objective of this article is to give you an overview of the interview process. We offer help on how you can prepare for interviews, how to answer common questions and also how to conduct yourself at the interview.

Before the interview:

Research the company - For any type of interview you should always find out something about what the company does, where it trades, what's its main products are, how big the company is and a little about its history. This is very important - you may not always have an opportunity in an interview to articulate what you know about the business but if a question is asked directly about what you know about the company, you can include their history into the interview. It shows you have taken an interest and used your initiative to seek out information about the company (made much easier with the internet).

Appearance - It is widely accepted that the first 15 seconds of an interview is crucial and the impression you give in this time weighs can have an overriding impact on the interviewee's thoughts about you. As they say, 'first impressions last'. Prepare the night before what you're going to wear. A business suit for a man is always impressive (a shirt and tie is usually a minimum). For ladies business suits are becoming more and more common and in both cases, avoid wearing bright colours. Style your hair tastefully and its usually a good idea to have it cut before an interview. Both men and women should keep jewellery to a minimum.

Sit a mock interview - Practice answering some common questions interviewers ask with a friend or relative. This enables you to accustom yourself with an interview scenario and could help to calm some pre-interview nerves!

Arrive promptly - Arrive five to ten minutes early for the interview. This shows that you are eager and punctual. Maybe it's a good idea to plan the route to your interview which allows you to be a few minutes early. Make sure you're never late.

Organise your documents - Arrange your CV and other relevant documents in a neat and organised portfolio or briefcase. This makes you look professional and competent.

Impress don't overpower - Avoid wearing strong perfume or aftershave as while it may seem pleasant to you, the interviewer might not agree. A few minutes before the interview, perhaps have a mint, but don't have one during the interview.

Turn off the mobile - Before you go into an interview, ensure your mobile phone is switched off.

At the interview:

First Impressions - Smile and introduce yourself. Be polite and avoid greetings you might use with your friends. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be, too. If the interviewer is casual, then also be casual but remain professional. In either case, try to appear to be relaxed, but not too relaxed. 

Look the part - Sit with a good posture and look comfortable. If you don't know what to do with your hands, keep them folded in your lap.

Pause & contemplate - When asked a question, contemplate your answer before responding. This shows you are thinking about the question the employer asked.

Calm Down! - Even trained interviewers are just normal people so they'll expect you to be a little nervous. However, try to avoid obvious signs of nerves or discomfort.

Maintain eye contact with the interviewer - Avoid staring but don't look away too often either. To some, failure to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact indicates that you are lacking confidence.

Don't eat, drink, chew - It's extremely off putting when somebody talks with their mouth full. However, if the interviewer offers coffee or other beverages, it's ok to accept.

Ask questions - Listen when the interviewer is talking but also remember, an interviewer will be impressed with intelligent and/or searching questions.

£££££ - If there is a possibility of a follow up interview, wait to ask about salary, pension scheme, etc. If possible, wait for your interviewer to bring up the issue of wages.

Be Honest - If you do not know the answer to a question don't waffle on about any old thing, tell the interviewer you do not understand the question or ask for clarification.

After the interview:

Keep focused - Some companies will want you to attend two or three interviews. If you're called back for another interview, it means that they're interested, but are also reducing the numbers so you need to stay focused and prepare for the next interview.

Be patient - It's not unusual for interviewers to take weeks to reply to you stating their decision. If you don't hear from them a few days after the 'decision date' feel free to call or write to them.

Feedback - If you are not successful ask why not, what could you improve on, etc. Its important to get some feedback on how well you do at interviews because it can help for the next interview you attend. Don't bury your head in the sand - Take on the advice and get that job!

Good luck at your next interview!

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