Considering the amount of stress I go through at an interview I often wonder why companies conduct job interviews. Don’t they know that I never do myself justice at these things? I have an excellent CV which sets out all my qualifications and experience and my references are glowing; so why, oh why do I have to face the misery of an interview?

Well companies don’t actually employ the CV, they employ the people; and interviews are particularly useful for getting the personal story behind your experiences. Then there may be interesting topics suggested by your experience which the interviewer can pursue in-depth. And most importantly, the interviewer can gauge how well you will fit into the company’s culture.
So if you have to handle an interview quite soon, here are some of the tips that I have found really work.

Do some research before the interview
If you are applying for a job with this company it is only natural that they should ask the question “What do you know about our organisation?” Doing your research will help you answer in a positive way. With this information, and relating it to your qualification and experience you can show how you can add value to the organisation.

Be Honest about yourself
Make a realistic assessment about your achievements, skills and talents and how these will be of benefit in the position you are seeking. Don’t be modest when they ask the question “Why should we employ you?” Remember, this is a marketing exercise – you are the product and you need to sell yourself.

Answer questions confidently
If you are unable to answer questions clearly and concisely seek some practical help. Even if you have the best qualifications and outstanding experience, if you cannot respond to simple questions and communicate your ideas and opinions you will not make your best impression.

There are some basic interview questions which occur in most interviews, such as “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” you should work out your response prior to the interview. Another good one to pre-prepare is “What do you expect to be doing in 3 to 5 years time?” There are no real correct answers to such questions. The employer is attempting to build a picture of you, so try to project an honest evaluation of yourself in a positive manner. Remember that an interview is a pressure situation and, if you remain calm, it will be assumed that will occur in the work environment.

Be punctual
Nothing will ruin you chance to make a positive impression more than being late to the interview. George Bush said that “Late is Rude” and most people who are forced to wait for people would agree.

So it is extremely important for you to double check the location, exact venue and available parking prior to the day of interview. Don’t take a chance on the day; check out how long it takes you to get there. If you arrive late, your prospective employer may well draw the conclusion that you are unreliable. It is best to arrive at least 10 minutes early, so that you have time to compose yourself and your thoughts.

First impressions count
Most people will make a value judgement about us in the first seven seconds of your interview. So that first impression can make or break an interview. Making a good first impression will portray you in a positive light – but an initial poor impression can be almost impossible to turn round. I am afraid that the way you present yourself IS of the utmost importance. So dress for success – and make sure you are clean, neat and tidy. The interviewers look at the whole person and the way you dress, and the manner you present yourself is part of the overall pattern. Judgements will be made and if you dress untidily, it could mean that you think untidily. Enter the room confidently; even if you feel nervous; and smile.

Use positive body language
Nervousness can show itself in distracting mannerism; and today’s interviewers place great emphasis on body language. So when you take a seat make sure that you sit straight and avoid nervous gestures. Be attentive to the interviewer and maintaining eye contact – if there is more than one person interviewing, remember to include them as you would in normal conversation.
Look for feedback You can often gauge the feel of the interview by watching for signals from the interviewers. Listeners who agree with your statement will unconsciously not their heads. Interviewers sitting or leaning forward are also hearing you positively. Remember, listening skills are important, and short concise answers are better than long rambling explanations. If more information is required it will be asked for.

Use the interview to find out more about the job
While the interview is your opportunity to find out more about the job, – it is not considered wise to make your first question “How much?” Rather ask about the organisation, its people and prospects for advancement to enable you to evaluate the opportunity as part of your overall career goal.

Leave the interview with a positive impression
Finish the interview on a positive note. Make sure the concluding questions have been answered well and remember to reserve some incisive questions of your own for these later stages. Finally, thank the interviewers for their time and give a firm handshake. Last impressions are as important as first impressions and the way you leave may well be the way you are remembered.

Being interviewed can be a frightening activity, but if you prepare yourself carefully and if you regard it as a great opportunity for a learning experience you can face interviews with confidence and expectations.

Find out more ways of mastering the interview at our next workshop on the 26th July. Get more information and book on line here.

Michele @ Trischel

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