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Interviews can be daunting, but the key to success is preparation. They normally follow a specific pattern, therefore if you know enough about the company, the job and understand your strengths and weaknesses you will increase your chances of being successful.
This advice is in three sections:
On the day of the interview
The interview itself
Preparation for an interview is incredibly important and will often be the difference between success and failure for applicants. Good preparation not only gives you an idea of what to expect but it will give you the all important confidence, to represent yourself in the best possible light at interview.
Interviewers will expect you to have a good grasp of what the company does, how big it is, how it is divided up and who it’s main competitors are. Always try to imagine that the first question you will be asked is , "What do you know about our company?". It is definitely worth practising your response to this question.
You need to make sure you have fully understood the job description and know how it fits in to the overall company structure. If you have any queries about it then try to raise them before the interview or be prepared to bring them up as you go along.
Ask yourself what the key skills are that the job requires and think of examples of occasions when you have demonstrated those skills.
Make sure you find out what format the interview will take. Often they can be combinations of standard interviews and role-specific tests (such as role plays or psychometric questionnaires). The fewer surprises on the day, the better.
You can never predict every question that you will encounter, so approach the interview with a number of important points.
Make a list of your key attributes and skills that you want to get across to the employer. For example, if you were to apply for a job as an Auditor, you might want to list the companies you have auditied before (by industry, size, etc.), languages spoken, personal experience in that industry and related knowledge (perhaps from your academic program).
Each question will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer.
On the day of the Interview
- Always dress appropriately - most of the time smart business dress will be appropriate.
- You MUST make sure you are on time– try to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. If you are going to be late for any reason then make sure you inform the agency or interviewer as early as possible.
- Ensure you have turned your mobile phone off.
- Never chew gum in an interview.
Some important points to remember:
- Don't assume the interviewer knows anything about you. You will be evaluated on your answers, not what you have written on your CV. Therefore, ensure you incorporate the relevant information from your CV in your answers.
- Take your time, pause before you respond to each question, even if you know exactly what you want to say. Take this time to quickly plan your answer, this helps to produce much more concise answers. It is better to think for a few moments and make sure that your answer is doing you justice and that there is a point to what you are saying.
- Always expand on an answer. Never answer a question with a "yes" or "no." Always try and give releveant examples of your work history to support answers.
- If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification. This is much better than providing the wrong, or a confused answer.
- The interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself. As long as you can back up what you are saying with examples which demonstrate that what you are saying is true, this is fine. However do remember that an employer may check certain claims during their referencing procedure
- Be very positive. Don't complain about anything - from your former employer to the weather - and don't apologise for experience that you don't have. Just sell what you do have and let the employer decide if you have what he/she is looking for. Also, avoid negative words. For example, you would not say "I have a little experience...," you would say "I have experience..."
- Don't be afraid to repeat important points that you feel are important. Its a good idea to do this with things that sell you well, or are particualrly relevant , to ensure the point is "hammered home".
- In terms of your manner and body language, try to ensure the following - be confident, positive and look directly at the interviewer when you talk and listen, speak clearly, be enthusiastic and express a keen interest in the position, keep to the point and be concise and always be honest.
Interviews generally follow a set pattern. The interviewer will:-
- Tell you about the company and the job.
- Ask you questions to assess your abilities, personality and motivation.
- Ask if you have any questions.
- Inform you of the next stage of the process and when a final decision will be made.
The most important thing to remember is that the interview is a two way process. You are there to find out information about them as much as they are there to find out about you. This is your chance to find out information that isn’t in the job description and this can help you make an informed decision about whether you definitely want the job.
- Questions for you to ask
- Why has this role come about?
- Can you describe my area of responsibility?
- What are the promotion prospects?
- Is there a clearly defined career path?
- Do you run any training schemes?
- Why do you enjoy working for the company?
- Will you be holding second interviews?
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