Your first interview is important – it may be the only opportunity to impress the interviewer – your aim is to get another interview – so make sure that you prepare thoroughly.
The interview process is not always straightforward and is full of pitfalls if you are unprepared. There is positive action that you can take to ensure that you prepare yourself for interview, give yourself the best chance of achieving what you want from the process, and ultimately to make the most of the opportunity that has presented itself to you.
Did you know that 90% of people do not prepare thoroughly for interviews – it is the 10% who do that are succeeding, so give yourself the advantage and be one of the 10%!
Also remember, that when anyone attends an interview, they are being judged not only on their qualifications and experience, but as importantly on how they present themselves and on the positive impact they make on the interviewer.
Your appearance and body language will be important. You should:
- Be very professionally dressed with smart grooming, no overpowering perfumes etc.
- Concentrate on very positive body language with maintained eye contact at interview
- Never slouch or lean over a table at interview, maintain good body posture
- Smile, it makes you look attentive, positive and also enhances what you say to the interviewer
Get information on the job and the company
Not all companies prepare job descriptions. If they have then they will expect you to have read through this and made notes about what appeals to you, what you can bring to this role and what technical experience you have to make you suitable. If you have not got a job specification then use your initiative and ask your consultant what is most important.
Find out about the company you are seeing. Check out their website, this is the quickest and easiest way to learn what the company says about itself.
Make notes on particular points of interest, recent press releases and things that are pertinent to the role that you are being interviewed for. It will impress the interviewer if you can recount some of these points.
Even if the job description is not ideal – stay positive. The company will have seen your CV, and any job description is a snap shot of what they would like core functions to be. Impress enough at interview and there may be scope to amend aspects of the role to suit your aspirations and abilities – never pre-judge an interviewer or a role.
Before the interview
- Refresh your knowledge on technical aspects of the role that you are being interviewed for, and also on the role that you are currently doing – it takes a surprisingly small amount of time and you will appear very assured in front of the interviewer when they ask you about your role. Think of ways that your experience matches their requirements. Make notes.
- Make a list of things that you do every day routinely – this is often a question asked at interviews and it is often something easily forgotten when put on the spot.
- Think about how you fit in with your current team, have examples of teamwork and about what you as a person bring to your team in terms of strengths and character.
- Think about what you have achieved as an individual – what positive effect did this have on your team, department or company.
- What have you learnt recently, what new skills have you acquired, what have you done to improve your education, technical ability or personal skills?
- Think about any specific projects that you have worked on, how did these pan out, were targets met, were budgets and deadlines met?
- All clients want good communication skills – have you had specific training in this? How do you use your communication skills? What have they achieved for you?
- If you have sales targets or performance targets – do you meet them?
- All employers want people who can work to deadlines and work under pressure – when have you done this, and how do you cope with this?
- Allow more time to get to the interview than you might expect – being late is frowned upon.
- Do not change the date and time of the interview unless it is absolutely necessary, delays lead to worries about commitment and indecisiveness.
- Prepare some questions about the company, their products, their staff, their clients, their markets, possible career progression or even possible reservations that they may have about you (you could counter them immediately). Write these down, then if they are all covered at interview before you get the opportunity to ask them, you don’t have to say no when they ask you if you have any questions – show that you have prepared.
At the interview
- Turn off your mobile.
- Do not launch into a discussion on salaries, this is always best left for them to bring up. If they don’t leave it to us.
- Remember that the interviewer has an agenda and will also have otherdemands on their time.
- Remember that your agenda is to find out what you need to know about the job, company and how this fits into your requirements. You are seeking to get a second interview.
- Offer a firm handshake – limp and damp will not do! Please do not crush the interviewer’s hand; it is not an arm wrestling contest.
- Ensure that the answers you give are precise, concise and relevant.
- Think about your answers rather than just saying the first thing that comes into your head.
- Remember that lying at interview is fraught with danger. What you don’t know, admit to and think of ways that you could learn this or how you could use your current experience to get you through the learning curve.
- Remember that they want to see someone who is flexible, adaptable to the needs of their business, and committed to enhancing the staff that they already have. It is a modern labour market, and employers expect people to show flexibility in their working practices, working hours and ability to learn new skills. Your willingness to muck in through times of pressure is very important.
- If need be, repeat questions back to the interviewer or ask them to clarify questions. Do not assume that you know what they are asking and end up giving them a totally irrelevant answer.
- Be yourself, if you try to change your personality too much then a good interviewer will notice this very quickly.
- Be honest, but never highlight any weaknesses unless you are specifically asked about them. Prepare for this question and learn how to turn weaknesses into strengths.
- Ask any questions that you have prepared, but have not been covered. Make sure that you understand the answers and are happy with them.
- If you want to undertake professional study or to achieve further technical development then ask them about their approach to this.
- Remember to look like you are enjoying the interview. Keep your answers focused, smile, stay upbeat and positive.