Your CV has got you an interview and this is the chance to really shine and prove yourself. Getting an interview is an achievement in itself. Only a small proportion of applicants are selected for interview (often about 10%) so you have already made a positive impression to have got to this stage!
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- Confirm the time and location.
- Make sure you know where you are going. Plan your route and allow for delays. Aim to be 10 minutes early.
- Research the company – here are some things you may be able to find out from their web site or via Google and Social Media such as their Facebook page and company profile on LinkedIn.
- What is the size of the organization?
- How long has it been in business?
- What are its products and/or services?
- What sort of reputation or public image does it have?
- Who are its main competitors?
- Where is it based? Single or multiple locations? UK or multinational?
- What is the organizational structure like?
- What are its future plans and prospects?
- What is the organisational culture?
- What types of training, development and appraisal are offered?
- Read over your notes again and read the top newspapers on the day to check for breaking news.
- Make sure you have the correct name and position of the person interviewing you.
- Make sure you know all the details that are on your CV as you are going to be asked questions on this
Prepare for question that may be asked about you and the position you are applying for:
- Know your stuff; know their stuff.
- Why are you interested in the job?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Why do you want to leave your current position?
- What have you achieved in the past few years?
- What are your current responsibilities?
- Describe your average day at work?
- Describe a time when you have been a leader, a team member, needed to be self-motivated, had to solve a problem, describe an example of good communication.
- What interests do you have outside work?
- What are your goals/ambitions?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? People often cite g examples such as I tend to be too self critical or I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. However interviewers have heard these all before. Giving an example that is obviously a positive in the workplace is easy to see through. Be honest, describe a true weakness and show how you have overcome it, through practice, training or asking for advice.
Prepare questions you may like to ask:
- It is quite acceptable to have these written down, so you don’t forget them.
- They should be well researched.
- They should give a better understanding of the company ethos and culture.
Don’t ask questions which:
- Are irrelevant
- For which the answers are on the web site.
- Are potentially inflammatory (e.g. about a recent difficulty for the company).
- Show obvious gaps in your knowledge
Some examples of questions you could ask:
- Can you describe a typical day?
- What training do you offer? (but not if it is detailed on the web site).
- Ask about something you read about in your research – such as a new product or service.
- Who will I be working with?
- Where do I fit into the organisational structure?
- How do you see the role developing?
- What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the new post holder?
- What criteria will be used to assess my performance?
- What have previous post holders gone on to do?
- What opportunities are there for me to train/gain experience in ….?
- What scope is there for me to use my experience/ skill in….in the role?
- When will you let me know the outcome of the interview?
Expect to discuss/have examined at interviews:
- Your CV
- Their business
- Your core skills i.e. attention to detail, communication (written and oral), alertness, analytical skills (comprehension, problem solving and numeracy)
There aren’t any right or wrong answers to interview questions: how you come across is as important as what you say. Be yourself – if you have to put on a completely false act to get through the interview, is this really the right job for you?
How you present yourself at interview is extremely important. A potential employer will make assumptions and decisions about how you appear visually. A positive or negative impression will be registered within seconds, so it is important to get it right.
- Choose a dark colour; if in doubt, wear a suit.
- Be tidy.
- No cartoon ties!
- Make sure your hair is neat, tidy and clean (hands and nails too).
- Make sure your shoes are clean.
- Know your own CV inside out.
- Smile. Try to engage with the interviewer as quickly as possible.
- Look smart and show confidence, stand up straight and don’t slouch.
- Maintain eye contact which is crucial, but don’t stare.
- Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention.
- Take time to consider your answers.
- Speak clearly, don’t mumble.
- Show what you know. Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments match them to what the company is looking for.
- Have an opinion and support your views.
- Be honest (but not too honest) and positive.
- Ask relevant questions. You should always ask at least one question to display your enthusiasm and interest in the job.
- Take a small, neat notepad and pen to write down important information the interviewer may tell you, and after the interview, the questions you were asked, so you can work out better answers to any you fluffed.
- Show energy and enthusiasm (but don’t be cocky). Appear to really want the job – if three interviewees are all equal the one that appears to want the job most will get it.
- Ask what the next step is with regard to the recruitment process
- Be late.
- Dress casually.
- Appear too confident which can sometimes be perceived as arrogance.
- Be unprepared.
- Lie, pretend or give evasive answers.
- Talk in a detrimental or negative way about others e.g. former employers etc.
- Become aggressive or defensive
Once the interview is over, it is a nice idea to write a letter, or send an email to your interviewer, within 24 hours to say how much you enjoyed meeting them etc. This will make you stand out from the rest and remind the potential employer of your character. This very small gesture will never fail to impress.
If you have not heard anything within the time frame that was given at the interview, then telephone the company to see where they are in the process.
If you are successful, then congratulations! However, if you are not then it is always a good idea to again write a short note to thank the company for their time and to ask to be considered for anything else if it happened to arise in the future. You would be surprised how many employers actually offer the position and the favourite candidate turns it down. If your letter arrives at the right time, it might be your job after all.
If you don’t succeed at your first interview, don’t give up. Look at it as a dress rehearsal. Something will definitely come along. Always remember: positive actions, a positive mind set and an attitude of gratitude will always get you further in life than anything else.