ADVICE FOR SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWS
Interviews for many people are a daunting event. This guide is designed to offer some advice and useful tips to reduce any anxiety that you may feel and ensure that you give the best possible impression to your potential employer at this all important meeting.
There are many ways to help you prepare before an interview and you will hopefully find the points below useful. Whilst some are obvious, there are others which will hopefully provide food for thought!
• Whilst we will do our best to thoroughly brief you about the position, company and individual you will be meeting do undertake some additional research yourself. Have you seen the company brochure, annual report, any recent press articles or looked at their website? Do you know anyone who has/is working in the company?
• Go through your CV and think about your career strategy to date and career aspirations. Ensure that you can positively justify any gaps in your career, can give honest but positive reasons for leaving previous jobs and can genuinely talk about para-gliding in Nepal if this is one of your listed interests!
• Make sure that you have a couple of copies of your current CV to take with you (the interviewer may have mislaid his/her copy or there may be two interviewers.)
• Although obvious, it is vitally important to present yourself well. Appearance and presentation are paramount in terms of first impression. Look professional and smart - preferably wear a suit, skirt or trouser, as it’s better to be overdressed than looking scruffy, even if the company may have a less formal approach to their dress code. Also ensure that your hair is well brushed and if wearing nail varnish, it’s not chipped!
• Avoid the temptation to have a last quick cigarette just before you get to the interview. You may be nervous, but smelling like an ashtray is not going to impress the interviewer!
• Make sure that you have the full details of the individual, the company, their address and telephone number and have checked the nearest underground station before the interview itself. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to get there, arriving exactly five minutes before the time of the interview if you can!
• Whilst every interview is different (some extremely formal, others less so) there are some general questions that are frequently asked which are worth thinking about beforehand. Examples include how you have overcome a difficult situation, your aspirations (where do you see yourself in five years time?), your strengths and weaknesses etc. Think about interesting situations you have been in or examples to illustrate situations so your answers will flow during the interview. Don’t forget to think about your achievements.
• Ensure your mobile phone is switched off.
It is important to smile and offer to shake hands firmly with a warm “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” as you walk through the door. Many people forget to smile and to appear enthusiastic about the meeting. The interviewer may have already seen a number of candidates that day with more to see after you so you want him/her to remember you. Equally important is your posture throughout; try not to sit in a stuffy manner but not overly relaxed either and don’t cross your arms. If you feel you need, practice your handshake and check your posture in a “mock” interview with a friend before the real thing.
Eye contact is vital and often avoided if you are feeling apprehensive. Try and make sure that you make some eye contact (with every interviewer if there are more than one). If you find this difficult, a good substitute is to look at eyebrow level which achieves the same object.
Keep your answers concise and to the point whilst not being afraid to illustrate by example and stress your achievements. Avoid excessive use of adjectives and use good plain English. Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humour although avoid loud laughter and giggles.
If you are unsure about a question, pause before answering and equally ask if you should like the question repeated. It is often the manner in which you respond that the interviewer is interested in and how you deal with such a situation rather than just the content of the answer.
Make sure that you have a few questions that you would like to ask prepared in your mind about the job and the company. Of course, if the interviewer has already answered these, you will need to think of more on your feet. Interviewers like to see an inquiring mind so have sensible, imaginative questions to ask. Many will relate to the position itself, career opportunities and skill development, training, etc. Try to avoid asking about company benefits, holiday entitlement, etc, leave that to us!
At the end of the meeting, smile and shake hands with the interviewer(s), however well or badly you think the interview has gone and thank him/her for their time. In most situations, you will be given some indication as to the procedure and timing of decisions but stress that you are interested in the position (as is hopefully the case and look forward to progressing matters further.
It is a good idea to make some notes about who you met and about the points discussed during the interview. You will then be prepared for the next stage.