Job interviews - trial by interrogation?

It may be some time since you attended a job interview and it can be a daunting prospect. Take a deep breath and follow our guide if you are about to strike out again into the big world of work .

job interview cartoonJob interviews
So you have made it through to the interview for a job you would really like in your new life.  Before you set off on the big day you need to prepare yourself. Being confident about your abilities is great but may not be enough to carry you through.  There are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to ensure that everything goes as well as it possibly can.

Things to do before you arrive
Firstly, confirm in a phone call that you will be attending.  Obviously you will have done this before by letter or email but it's worth doing by telephone the day before.  This is also a good time to check the location, to ask for directions and to find out about transport or parking.

Sometimes it's even worth making the journey to the interview venue the day before so that you know how long it takes and you know exactly where it is.  Never, never be late.  You will feel crap and the interview will not start well.  

Ask who will interview you and what are their job titles
Ask who will be interviewing you and what may be involved. It is very useful to know which interviewer does what.  You don't really want to mix up your HR folk from your marketing folk.  Many companies use additional tests and exercises to determine candidate suitability, so be prepared!

Know as much as you can about the company
Find out as much as you can about your prospective employer.  For example, if you are applying for a job in retail visit at least one of their stores in order to familiarise yourself with what they sell and how they do it.  It's vital to check out their website and learn as much as you can from that. 

Be prepared for the curve ball
Take a look at your CV and application form again. Think about how you can explain breaks in work, lack of qualifications or poor grades.  Also, at the other end of the scale if you have an MBA learn how to make that sound non threatening.  Some employers are frightened by these things as they worry that you will know very quickly just how crap a company they are.    

Consider the type of questions you are likely to be asked and what your answers could be.  Experience often demonstrates that the questions you have prepared don't get asked.  It's just like exams!  There is usually an opportunity at the end of an interview for you to put your own questions.  Don't waste this opportunity, have some well thought out questions ready to roll.

Look and feel the part
Decide well in advance what you are going to wear.  Look smart, if you feel comfortable you will be much more relaxed and able to concentrate on answering the interviewer\'s questions.  A suit (for both sexes) is probably still the best bet, unless you are heading for one of the 'creative industries' then you need the correct uniform be it web site developer or integrated marketing agency account manager.  

How to put yourself across in the interview
Stay calm during the interview. Take your time answering questions and if you don’t have an answer to something be honest and say so.  Try to create a dialogue rather than a question and answer session.  Be friendly and remember to smile but avoid inane grinning.

Make eye contact without staring, speak clearly and not too fast.  Don’t fidget or slouch in your chair which indicates boredom.  Sit upright – leaning forward slightly shows that you are interested in what the other person is saying.  Keep your hands folded on your lap and be attentive at all times.

If you have a good sense of humour use it to your advantage but don't over do it.  There are some things that are too important to be taken seriously.  Never say anything derogatory about past employers or colleagues as this reflects very badly on you and not on them.

And finally......
The company wants to hire you, they will be keen for you to be the person they are looking for.  It is up to you to prove to them that you are the best candidate.  Even if you don’t get the job you will be better prepared for your next interview.  Disappointments happen, but success will come.

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