If you haven't already, please visit our Careers Resources, it provides details on how to improve your CV/Resume, what to say in your cover letter and has advice on an array of other career hints and tips.
This short document has a few key points that you should keep in mind, and print off if you need to.
Preparation & Research
Is this the job for you?
Figure out whether you really do want to go to an interview for this particular job, does it interest you? Will you get bored with it quickly? There's no point going to do an office job if you're always outdoors and love Rock Climbing; become an outdoor instructor instead!
Ask for a job description before the interview, to find out which of your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company. This will help you to prepare for this particular job.
Find out about the company:
- Where is it located, is it easily accessible – this will be crucial if you don't have your own transport.
- What are its products and/or services?
- What size is it?
- Who are its main and close competitors?
It's advisable to do some research at this point. Logon to their internet site and it will likely be full of information. If you show knowledge of this, you've won half the battle!
Find out about the structure of the interview
Most interviews follow a similar format:
- Questions based on your CV to explain your career path and ambitions Pick out your skills and achievements that are directly relevant. Be prepared to explain any unusual parts of your CV, such as any time taken out from employment or education. If you feel it important, point it out, but most interviewers will notice this.
- General questions you could be asked about you
- What (and how much) do you know about the job/company?
- What interests you about the job/company?
- What skills or experience do you have that make you right for this job?
- Why did you leave/or wanting to leave your last/current company?
- What interests you about this company?
- When have you had an opportunity to show your initiative?
- Who and what were you responsible for in your last job?
- Can you give an example of when you have coped well under pressure?
- Do you prefer to work as an individual or as part of a team?
- What are your three biggest achievements so far in your career?
- What do you see as your good and bad characteristics?
- What are your long term goals? How are you going to succeed in achieving them?
- Where do you see yourself in the next five/ten years? – NEVER EVER say their job, or their bosses' job! Be creative.
- Have you applied to other employers (competition)? – be honest here, this will show knowledge of competition, brands within the industry and the quality of the company's brand you're applying to.
- Telling you about the company and position which department the vacancy is in, and how that fits into the company (at both unit and regional level) Who you will be working with and who'll be your line manager
- Your questions. Asking relevant questions shows you are interested, organised and able to plan ahead – write these down, it shows you've thought about questions and ensures you don't miss anything. After all, they'll probably have a set way of conducting the interview (with guidelines) that they have to follow, in front of them. Salary and benefits are important, but an employer will be more impressed if you ask questions about the company, the department and the job first. Good questions to ask are about training opportunities, who you will report to, who you will be working with, promotion prospects, what the working hours are and if there are peak periods when you will be expected to work longer hours.
- Informing you of the next stage of the process and when you will hear if you have been successful Will there be a second or third round of interviews? You'll be given details of the interview, whether it'll be an assessment centre, group interviews or a panel interview. Always ask if there will be psychometric tests involved, many employers use these in recruitment. Don't know what these are?
- Always, always thank the interviewer for their time and comment on how interesting it was.
Points to Consider About The Interview
What is the date, time and location of the interview?
Allow plenty of time for the journey and aim to arrive at least ten minutes early. If you are held up, phone ahead and let them know. Do a trial run at getting there if necessary, and don't forget to check timetables or parking availability.
Who will be interviewing you?
Be prepared for the possibility of a panel interview. In a panel interview, answer questions looking from one interviewer to another. And don't forget take the contact person's name written down, you'll unprofessional if you can remember who you're going to see!
How should you dress?
First impressions ARE important! Arguably first impressions make 90% of the final decision whether to progress you to the next stage of interviewing. Dress suitably for the company, and don't overdo your makeup, jewellery and perfume or aftershave. Hair should be clean and tidy. Take just one neat bag or briefcase with you. Be smart and clean, but make sure you are wearing something you are comfortable in. It is best to wear a slightly different outfit for a second interview at the same company, but do be as smart. We've always found a suit works for both ladies and gents.
What should you take?
A few copies of your current CV (yes, you may have sent them one, but be prepared, it may be a test) and all relevant certificates and references. A notepad and pen may also be handy, along with a few questions to ask the interviewer.
During The Interview
How to Behave
- Shake the interviewer's hand firmly if he/she offers
- Take the lead from the interviewer – note whether their attitude is formal or relaxed.
- Make eye contact (but don't stare! – even if he/she is drop dead gorgeous!)
- Smile where appropriate
- Don't sit down until you are asked
- Look alert and sit upright (watch that posture)
- Rest your hands on the table or on your lap to look calm and prevent fiddling
- Don't eat or smoke even if invited, but do accept a coffee, tea or water if you want
- Listen carefully and concentrate, and don't interrupt
- If you don't understand the question seek clarification, it's annoying for the interviewer if you answer the wrong question
- Talk slowly and clearly
- Keep your answers clear and to the point and avoid talking for too long
- Take time if necessary before answering a question
- Don't be afraid to admit if you can't answer the question
- Don't criticise your current employer, or reveal confidential information
- Be honest – if you lie it will surface eventually
- Find opportunities to sell yourself, relating your skills to the job. An employer is looking for determination, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn
- Ask relevant questions
- Show that you have researched the company
- Ask about training and who you will be working with
- Ask when you will be given a decision
- When the interview ends, say so if you haven't had the opportunity to put a point across or to ask a question. Say if you are interested in the job and thank the interviewer for seeing you.
If the interview does not create a job offer or a next step, don't be too disappointed. It is excellent experience for the future and it will help you to build on your interview technique.