Tuesday 17 May 2011

Preparing for an Interview

Well done. The CV did the trick and you're now preparing for an Interview. So what now?

1. Start by finding out as much as you can about the company. The interviewer will rightly see your efforts as a sign of commitment.
2. Research the company products, staff, culture, clients and competitors; positive or negative. See what you can find out about the interviewer.
3. Look on the company’s website, ask your recruitment consultant / agency for any other information you feel you need and carefully read over the job description they have sent to you.
4. Make sure you are certain of the interview structure (some companies run panel interviews, others are one-to-one, will there be any testing?) and are fully prepared for all elements of it.
5. Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer's full name and correct pronunciation of it, and his/her title.
6. If it helps YOU, visualise and rehearse the interview - be ready to "run the interview" if necessary.
7. Devise a list of questions to ask the interviewer (what do you need to ask?).
8. Get a map and plan your journey carefully, allowing plenty of time for any unforeseen travel delays.

Time spent preparing prior to the interview will really pay off on the day. Find out all you can about the organisation. Being fully prepared and informed about the company, plus asking lots of intelligent and relevant questions at an interview always impresses an interviewer. The old adage of "first impressions count" is never more applicable than in an interview situation and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. According to research, employers' impressions are made in the following way:

• Body Language & Image (70%)
• Tone of Voice (20%)
• What You Say (10%)

Even when waiting in the reception area, be friendly and alert; you never know who is watching, or what influence the receptionist might have! Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake. A ‘wet kipper’ handshake implies lack of confidence and this first action can create the wrong impression at the start. Ed. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Having chosen not to sit down in the waiting room once, opting to stand (waiting for the interviewer) – when shaking his hand for the first time, the interviewing manager remarked how my eagerness and attentiveness ‘stood’ out from the other candidates who had all sat down. Once again, first impressions count.

Remember - first impressions DO last.

• Smile! The best and most human icebreaker.
• Don’t smoke before the interview - certain smells linger. Avoid smoking, even if you are invited.
• Accept tea or coffee if you would like some – this is a good way of relaxing the atmosphere.
• If you are asked to complete an application form, avoid striking through areas that you feel are covered on your CV. List a brief outline instead.
• Don’t use one-word answers when asked questions in an interview – always try to expand.
Ed. While it may have been attractive to Olive Oil, check you aren't carrying unwanted Spinach on your teeth.
If you’re that way inclined – you may want to consider some self analysis at this stage. As well as congratulating yourself for ‘getting through it’, take some time to think through what went well, what didn’t and what – if anything – you’d do differently if you went through it all over again……
• Did I get there on time? Should I have done a dry run beforehand to find out where to park?
• Was I prepared? What more could I have done?
• Did I say everything I needed to? What did I miss out? Did I say too much?
• Did I run through my work history adequately? Or, did the interviewer fall asleep?

When it arrives, you should be prepared for the interview feedback as it can be – sometimes - very frustrating; 'not experienced enough’, ‘too much experience’, ‘not the right attitude', 'found someone more suitable' and so on. Be careful not to ignore this feedback however unfair you think it is at that time. The fact that someone else was chosen over you shows that somebody else did a better job at convincing that they were the best match. Hence, accept the feedback with the seriousness it is due. Write it down if possible, and go through it a couple of days later when you are able to be more objective about the whole affair. Learn from it. Move on. Do not dwell on near-misses even if it is your dream job. Once it is gone, it is gone. You can still prepare for a next opportunity in the same place later when the next opportunity arises.

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