A good interview

Intro

You need to convince the interviewer that you are the best possible person for the job.
Before you enter the interview room, you are just another name on the list. Make sure that by the time you come out, yours is the only name on it.
Stay calm, think clearly and don’t let stress and tricky questions put you off your stride.

Preparation

Make sure you know exactly where the interview will take place, and the name and position of the person you are due to meet. Work out your route in advance and allow a generous margin of error in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Have the telephone number of the company at hands so that you can let them know if you are running late as this is generally forgiven whereas unannounced lateness generally isn’t.

Find out approximately how long the interview will take and arrange other appointments accordingly – don’t leave your car on a meter and end up worrying more about getting a ticket than getting the job.

Research

Being even a little knowledgeable about the company demonstrates to the interviewer that you have gone to the trouble to see whether you’d fit into the team and make a successful ‘career’ out of the ‘job’. Make sure you ask intelligent questions but not of the “how much holiday?” variety!

Quiz yourself

Interviewers ask the same general questions in addition to those of a more technical nature. Common questions are “Why are you interested in this position?” “Tell me about your current boss”. “What are the most satisfying/frustrating things about your current employment?” “What are your strengths/where do you think your weaknesses lie?” “Why do you think we should give you the job?” “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time?” Learn them, prepare your answers and practice with friends.

Dress to impress

People shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they all do anyways. If you look untidy that’s how you’ll be remembered and first impressions really do count. Always wear a suit and tie or neat skirt/dress and polish your shoes. Even if you are attending a second interview and you know the organisation allows less formal work dress, maintain a professional/formal approach, as you don’t know who you may happen to meet, the Managing Director perhaps!

It may sound obvious, but be civilised and remember your manners. Shake hands firmly with people you are introduced to and when you leave. If you are offered a coffee, accept or decline politely, don’t forget your manners.

Be unaggressively assertive

Find the right tone in which to present your positive aspects. You have to talk about your achievements to show you are the right person, but do it without being arrogant. Under no circumstances should you spend a significant portion of the interview running down your current employer – this is viewed as negative.

Turn weaknesses into strengths

Don’t pretend you haven’t got any weaknesses because everyone has some. On the other hand, don’t do yourself down, because you could be talking your way out of a job. Discuss your weaknesses as if you have recognised them and strive to overcome them. “I used to have bad time management so now I prioritise my workload first thing every morning.” “I like to take control and be involved in everything. I sometimes find it hard to delegate but when I have, the results have been positive”.

If you lack technical strength in a particular area don’t try and ‘smokescreen’ but admit; “no, that isn’t my strongest suit, but I’m sure it’s not going to be a problem to pick up”.

Have a positive attitude

Always go in with the intention of getting an offer, only then do you really have the chance to weigh up how this opportunity compares with others. Many people, with the benefit of hindsight, have regretted they didn’t take a particular interview sufficiently seriously. Don’t let yourself be in this ‘if only’ category

Questions you can ask during an interview

  • Why is this position open?
  • What are some of the objectives you would like to be see accomplished in this job?
  • What would you like to have done in the next 3 months?
  • What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position?
  • What is logical progression within the position, where can I expect to be if my performance is good?
  • What are the future plans for the company and department?

Some questions the interviewer may ask you

  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us that someone else can not do?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What skills and qualifications are essential for success in the position?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • How would your boss describe you?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What were the five most significant accomplishments in your last assignment?
  • What were the five most significant accomplishments in your career so far?
  • Can you work well under deadlines or pressure?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What other positions are you considering?
  • What position do you expect to have in 2 to 5 years?