By Gemma Morris
1st October 2015

The short time you spend at a job interview could have a dramatic effect on your career prospects. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Here are our top tips for a successful job interview.

Preparation to do beforehand

  • Prior to the interview make sure you know where you are going, what time you need to be there and who you are seeing. Make sure you are clear on how to get there, what train you need to catch, what traffic delays you may encounter etc. Plan to arrive a few minutes early.
  • Memorise your interviewer’s full name, the correct pronunciation and his/her title. Do a little research on their background – LinkedIn is a useful resource for this.
  • Find out specific facts about the company. Do some research above and beyond just their website. Be interested in projects or the company’s development, asking questions related to something you have read. Show them that you have done some research and are genuinely interested in finding out more.
  • Have facts and figures on your current employer. Don’t assume your interviewer will have heard of where you work or know what the company does.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask during the interview.
  • Dress conservatively, in darker colours, paying attention to all aspects of your dress and grooming. Remember that strong flavours like garlic or alcohol can stay on your breath the next day so avoid if you can.

At the interview, DO…

  • Treat the receptionist/greeter with the same respect as if they are the interviewer; you never know how important their input may be.
  • Take a copy of your CV with you to the interview along with a note book and pen to take any necessary notes.
  • Greet the interviewer by his/her name and shake hands firmly.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting down.
  • Sit upright in your chair, looking alert and interested at all times.
  • Remember to listen as well as talk.
  • Smile! And maintain eye contact when you are talking.
  • Follow the interviewer’s lead but try to get them to describe the position and duties early on so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
  • Always give examples of when and where you have handled certain situations.
  • Answer all questions clearly, honestly and concisely; don’t over embellish and make him/her realise the need for you in the organisation. Remember that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer.
  • Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. It is better to be in the position of choosing from a number of jobs.

At the interview, DON’T…

  • Answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Explain whenever possible.
  • Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.
  • Lie! Answer questions truthfully and as concisely as possible.
  • Over answer questions. Answer honestly and if you are unsure of the answer, try not to say more than is necessary.
  • Enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses etc at the initial interview unless the interviewer raises the issue first. However, you should be aware of your market value and be prepared to state your required salary range.
  • Be frightened of silence; at times the interviewer may be just trying to test you.

Closing the interview

  • If you are interested in the position, say so.
  • Ask about second interview schedule if you feel it is appropriate.
  • If you are offered the position and you want it, accept it there and then. If you feel you need time to think about it, be courteous and tactful in asking for time to think it over. Set a definite date when you will get back to them.
  • Do not be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. If you have the feeling that the interview has not gone well and you have already been rejected, do not let your disappointment show. The interviewer may just be testing your reactions.

If you have answered these three questions uppermost in the interviewer’s mind – why are you interested in the job and company, what can you offer the company and can you do the job – you have done all you can.

Interview prep

Good luck!

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