Interviews need not be frightening
Interviewers with professional employers will not be trying to trip you up - they are only interested in finding out if you are a good fit for the role and the organisation. The key to success is preparation!
If you do not prepare for an interview the interviewers will know. Spend time preparing the following points before the big day:
- Find out as much as you can about the employer. Their website is not enough - check for other references on the internet, in the press or speak to someone who knows the company
- Plan your journey; ensure you know how to get there, how long it will take and where you are to park. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early
- Make sure you know who your interview is with so you know who to ask for when you arrive
- Study the job description to remind yourself exactly what the company is seeking
- Take at least one copy of your CV and know it inside out as you will be asked questions on it!
- Think of the answers to questions you could be asked about your CV and how you meet the requirements of job description
- Consider taking your passport, visa or birth certificate etc, if available, to show you are eligible to work in the UK
There are only four key questions at interview:
- Why have you applied?
- How competent are you?
- Do you fit the team culture?
- Can we afford you?
Of course these questions will be asked in many different ways but be prepared.
To get a step ahead of the competition consider how you might answer the following questions:
- Tell us about yourself? This part can be rehearsed beforehand - make sure the information is relevant to the job and hits all the key points you want them to know. Do not go on for too long - four minutes is a good guideline
- What do you know about our business? Make sure you know the company, their position in the marketplace and their main customers and competitors
- Why should we hire you? Focus on requirements stated in the advert and job description. Who you are as a person is as important as your education and experience. Try to be positive without being arrogant
- What do you feel are your weaknesses? Acknowledge you have weaknesses and always try to turn them into a strength
- Why have you applied for this job? Be enthusiastic about the company's reputation, your interest and the skills you have to offer.
- Why did you leave your previous job? Make sure you are not critical of your previous employer
- Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Be honest but think what impact your answer will have on your success - would you employ someone who says they want to leave in a year or so?
- What are your salary expectations? Be realistic
- Tell us how you have dealt with a difficult scenario at work or in your private life? If you can, try to relate this to a skill or strength they are looking for
- What achievements are you most proud of and what do they show about your personality? Again, try to make these relevant to the job
- Dress smartly - you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
- Give a firm handshake, smile, stand up straight and look the interviewers in the eye. Wait to be invited to sit.
- Show enthusiasm and energy.
- Think about speaking more slowly at first until you are feeling comfortable.
- Keep good eye contact throughout.
- Be honest with your answers and if you really do not understand a question, say so.
- Always answer the questions with examples. Be forthcoming but be careful not to talk too long or wander off the point.
- Do not criticise your past employers.
- It is good to ask questions about the role and the career prospects - but do not ask about the pay at this stage
Questions to ask at your interview
- How does this role fit in with the overall structure of the business?
- What training opportunities do you offer within the company?
- How will my performance be measured and how often?
- What would be the priorities for this vacancy in the first three months?
- When and how will I be informed about the results of the interview?
Key points to remember
- Many Candidates are not successful when asked for a second interview because they did not prepare as well as they did for the first.
- If you have a telephone interview do not be lulled into thinking that your interview is just a chat. Make sure it is arranged in advance so that you are in a quiet location where you can concentrate and not in a rowdy pub. Act as professionally as you would in a face to face interview.
- BEWARE - ensure your social media settings are set to private. Photographs of drunken escapades and ill considered comments should not be in the public domain if you are serious about your professional career.