1. Preparation prior to interview
- Organise your clothes for the interview in advance. Remember to dress formally (a suit for both men and women is the norm) and to match your clothing to the image and culture of the company. Little details such as a good haircut, no missing buttons or hanging threads may seem minor but they are vital in creating that first impression.
- Assemble the relevant documentation and information beforehand (qualifications, portfolio etc.)
- Research the company thoroughly using the internet, published material and personal contacts, so that you are able to ask 'intelligent' questions.
- Interviewers usually ask questions about practical examples of past behaviour which help demonstrate your competencies. This is known as Behavioural Event Interviewing and most companies use this technique. You must be prepared to share examples of achievements, failures or past behaviours and talk about them in some detail. Ensure you describe the situation, the action you took and the results or outcomes of your action.
- Think through your strengths and weaknesses and be careful when describing incidents in which these attributes were very evident, in order to present your actions in a positive way.
2. The Initial Stages of the Interview
- Be on time. This means not only don’t be late but don’t be too early.
- Be pleasant and courteous to the receptionist or secretary. Often this is the person who will veto your appointment if they don’t think your style 'fits'.
- Don’t arrive with baggage. If you walk in carrying unnecessary items, you will give the wrong first impression.
- You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one. Smile, make eye contact and use a firm handshake.
- If you are sure of the pronunciation, greet the interviewer by his/her surname.
- Interviewers frequently use 'small talk' to break the ice. Follow the interviewer’s lead, but don’t initiate a lot of small talk yourself, as this could make you look too familiar or too relaxed.
3. The Interview Structure
- No two styles of interviewing are the same.
- Interviewers value warmth, honesty, energy, clear communication, brevity, rapport and enthusiasm. Also it is vital to look into the interviewer’s eyes.
- Usually the interviewer gets information from you and then tells you about the position. However, the order of the interview will depend on the interviewer themselves. Go with the flow.
4. Nervousness during an interview
- It is completely normal to be anxious during an interview. This energy is positive and used properly will help you give a high energy performance. If, however, you feel your body language is conveying anxiety, it is usually best to mention it. (E.g. 'I haven’t had an interview before and I am a little nervous')
5. Finishing the interview
- Prepare pertinent questions to ask towards the end of the interview. Remember you must learn as much as you can about the job in order to determine if it is suitable for you. Some good questions might include:
- What sort of work will I be doing?
- What are the key responsibilities and would you want me to achieve in the next year?
- What are the reporting relationships?
- What resources are available to the position?
- How will my performance be measured?
- What is the next step?
- What long term career opportunities are available?
- Do ask (if you haven’t been told) what the process will be after the interview has been completed.
- Give the interviewer a couple of positive statements which link your competencies and experience into those sought for the job. Do not be afraid to reiterate your strengths – as they relate to the role. Be careful to be brief!
- If you are genuinely interested in the role, say so.
- Leave the interviewer with a good impression – smile and shake hands firmly. Do not make the mistake of being overconfident or too relaxed at the end of the interview.
6. Follow up
- Immediately after the interview email the manager or HR person indicating your interest in joining the organization.
- If you have been asked to send further information do so quickly and efficiently.
7. Common Traps
- Being too friendly or too casual.
- Not listening to questions carefully and therefore giving inappropriate answers.
- Saying 'we' instead of 'I'. Not referring to your own actions or achievements is very irritating.
- Making very general statements which lack substance.
- Being over enthusiastic.
- Being poorly prepared.
- Slouching, mumbling, speaking slowly and not having eye contact with the interviewer.
- Knowing nothing about the company to whom you are applying.
- Making derogatory remarks.
8. Helpful Hints
- Not all the positions you apply for are right for you. The purpose of the interview is to help you sort out if the 'fit' is right in both a job and cultural sense. You must ask questions which will give you information pertinent to your decision making. The last thing you want on your resume is a short stint in a job to explain to your next employer.
- Remain positive. No matter how you felt the interview went. This might not be the right job for you, but they might have another one coming up.
- Qualify your referees. First, tell them you have given their name so they are prepared for a call. Secondly ask them what they believe to be your weaknesses.
9. The most commonly asked interview questions:
- Tell me about yourself…
- What kind of position are you looking for? Why do you want to work in this industry/company?
- Give me an example of the most difficult problem you encountered in the course of your studies. How did you resolve it?
- What is the toughest deadline you have had to meet?
- Tell us about the most difficult team you have been a part of. What was your role in creating harmony in the team?
- How do you plan your work?
- What do you consider to be your strengths? Weaknesses?
- What position do you hope to reach in five years?
- Tell me about your hobbies/interests?
- " We understand how difficult and frustrating it can be to find the right role. Preparing yourself well and presenting yourself optimally at interview are skills you will need all your working life. Once learned, you will only refine and improve them over time "