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Interviews Made Easy

With the recession biting and more people finding themselves out of work and having to apply for new jobs, here are some top tips on making a great impression when you attend an interview.

1. It will always impress an interviewer if you have done some research into the company and the job. It shows you are a person with initiative. Try to find out what products they make, where they sell them and how large the company is. The more information you can discover the more it will help you. You can find this information from many sources. Ask friend and acquaintances if they know anything about the company. Look for the company’s adverts and brochures. Check out trade directories at your local library and don’t forget the Internet. Search for the company’s website on Google.

2. People say that you fail or succeed in an interview during the first five seconds. There is a lot of truth in this. Although it may be possible to overcome a bad first impression by making a brilliant presentation, why make things hard for yourself? A little preparation can make all the difference.

3. Check your appearance. Make sure you are smartly dressed in an appropriate manner. A well-dressed, well-groomed person impresses. When you look smart you impress not only the interviewer, but you also feel more confident. A suit or smart casual clothes (depending on the job) are always acceptable. But there is no need to be expensively dressed to create the right impression.

4. Take as little as you can to the interview. Try to fit all your documents neatly into a briefcase or slim folder. If an overcoat or umbrella is necessary, leave these with the receptionist. You don’t want them clutched in your hands when you meet the interviewer.

5. Just before you go into the interview, comb your hair, check your clothes are neat and your shoes still have a good shine – and then forget your appearance.

6. Make sure you arrive with a little time to spare. This will prevent you from getting flustered. You can check that you have everything you need and that your appearance is satisfactory before you meet the interviewer. Also, being punctual is simply a matter of courtesy. It is wise to have a copy of your application with you to remind you of what you have said when the interviewer starts asking you questions.

Remember – be yourself. Don’t try to put on an act. It is important that you demonstrate your good points but do so modestly. Don’t be boastful or over-confident. Never try to monopolise the interview – talk enough but not too much. When you are asked questions try to make your answers sufficiently detailed – avoid a blunt ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This will help to demonstrate your enthusiasm. It is also important to listen to what the interviewer is saying.

7. At the interview you will be asked questions. Try to anticipate these and have your answers prepared in advance. When you know that you have good answers ready, your confidence will naturally increase.

Some of the questions you will be asked will relate to the job, your past experience and your qualifications. The interviewer will be trying to assess your ability to do the job. You should be able to anticipate such questions and prepare for them.

In addition, there may be more general questions to discover your outlook and attitudes. Here are some of the more common questions asked at interviews. You should certainly have your answers to these prepared

• Why do you want this job?
• What attracts you to this job?
• Why do you want to join this company?
• Why do you want to leave your present company/job?
• What salary are you looking for?
• Why does your experience make you suitable for this job?
• Why do your qualifications fit you for this job?
• Are you intending to do any further studies?
• Can you provide references?
• Will your present employer give you a reference?
• Are you ambitious
• Where do you hope to be in the next 2, 5 or10 years?

If you can use anecdotes or previous experience to help you answer such questions, then do so. For example, if you have been instrumental in introducing new systems at your previous company this would show that you are competent, flexible and open to new ideas.

It is worth spending time before the interview thinking how your previous experience and successes can be used to impress the interviewer in your favour.

We suggest you prepare yourself for such questions by taking a long, hard look at yourself. Be honest and try to list your strengths and weaknesses. By planning ahead you can go a long way towards making the most of your strengths and minimising your weaknesses. Give the matter careful thought so that you really make a good impression.

8. Towards the end of most interviews you will be asked if you have any questions. It can be embarrassing if you sit in silence, unable to think of anything. But if you do the kind of research on the company and the job which we explained earlier, this will allow you to prepare some questions in advance.

You must ask questions to show your interest in the organisation and the position for which you are applying. Only by doing this can you understand what the job entails and show why you are the best person to fill the vacancy. It will also help you to find out whether the job and the company are right for you. Finally, the questions you ask can be used to show your own knowledge and intelligence.

9. When it is obvious that the interview is finished, leave promptly. Shake hands, say thank you and confirm that you are still interested in the job (if you are!) now you know more about it. Smile as you leave – it always makes a good impression.

And when you get the job offer…

As soon as you get the offer, write back or email and accept. When making such offers, companies will either confirm all the important points (salary, job title, benefits, work location, starting date etc) in their letter or attach an additional sheet showing them clearly. If they don’t, then make sure you confirm them in your letter.

If there are any misunderstandings about these point, it will be too late to complain when you have left your present job and moved into your new one. So get it in writing!

And if you don’t get the job? Don’t let this spoil your confidence. Think of the interview as good practice that will help you when you apply for the next job. Consider any questions that you could have answered better or any ways that you might have presented yourself better. Then try to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.


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