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Interview Tips

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The interview process begins before you even set foot in the interview room – one of the key steps is preparation.

Having the right skills is not enough to ensure success at interview. Securing a job offer requires you to show a broader base of skills. These skills are based on simple concepts, which can help you successfully manage the most demanding of interviews.

Preparation

As an absolute minimum you need to:

  • Read the entire job description carefully and take notes
  • Read the version of your CV that has been submitted carefully and take a mental note of key experiences
  • Plan how to get to the interview location
  • Study company brochures/literature and/or website.

Where possible you should know the following about the company:

  • Who are their competitors?
  • What are their products and/or services?
  • Revenues and profitability
  • Look at recent press coverage
  • Identify exactly who you are meeting, their role and the recruitment process.

Interviewer techniques

Most companies incorporate some form of Competency Based Interviewing Technique. This is designed to create a structured and goal-orientated interviewing technique for well-informed, reliable and accurate hiring decisions. What you will get in effect is an even playing field, as the interviewer will be focused on the same set of competencies for each applicant.

Tip: Read the job description again to establish the competencies required. From this you can deduce what questions are likely to come up.

Answering interview questions

Interview questions can vary tremendously, from very informal to formal. However, some questions can be anticipated, as can the subject matter.

Tips:

  • Speak up when answering questions
  • Answer briefly, but try to avoid “yes” or “no” answers unless it is required
  • Don’t worry about pausing before you answer; it show you can think and are not delivering rehearsed answers
  • Don’t embellish or try to waffle through answers. It is always better to admit you don’t know the answer to something. If your mind has simply gone blank, try to come back to the subject when it is appropriate later in the interview
  • Be prepared for hypothetical situation questions and take your time on these
  • Be prepared for an unexpected question. Don’t panic – they are designed to see how you cope in less predictable circumstances
  • If you ask questions, keep them brief during the interview – remember you’re the interviewee. At the end of the interview ask your questions in an open manner, e.g. How? Who? What? When and Why?

 

 

DO:

DON’T

  • Give a firm handshake and good eye contact
  • Bring spare copies of your CV in case they are needed
  • Accept a drink – water is best. Even the most confident interviewee gets thirsty. Moreover it establishes time for rapport and gives you more time to settle down
  • Ask for permission before taking notes (if you want to take them). This can show genuine interest and good technique – although be sure they are only for “key words” to refer to when you want to ask questions later.
  • Ask good, relevant questions. These questions can be prepared in advance but be sure that you do not repeat subjects already covered
  • Try to smile occasionally as you would if you were in any other kind of meeting
  • Mirror everything the interviewer does. Most interviewers will be aware of a deliberate use of it – it is very irritating and distracting
  • Fidget and fiddle or play with your hair or jewellery
  • Use your question time to ask about pay and benefits
  • Take loads of notes; you’re there to listen!
  • Stare. At the same time, try to avoid looking down when answering questions.

 

Tip:

Thank the interviewers for their time and try to leave quickly and calmly. Remember to smile no matter how you feel the interview went. If you are interested in the opportunity, make sure you leave them with that impression – without going overboard and sounding desperate!

Remember:

Getting an interview as a result of your CV and/or application form is the first hurdle. Clearly the company feels that, on paper, you could fulfil their requirements. See your interview as a golden opportunity to demonstrate that their initial assessment was right.