Interview Tips

Interview Tips

Tips for a successful Interview

An interview is essentially the opportunity for the perspective candidate to meet the potential employer. It is of paramount importance that the interviewee understands it is a two way process to obtain the greatest amount of information available at what maybe your only opportunity to successfully obtain your ‘ideal’ job. Below are a number of guidelines that will improve your interview technique.

Before the Interview

90% of interview success is in the preparation: if you are well prepared, you will be less nervous on the day, and less likely to be thrown by difficult questions. So what preparation do you need to do?

Tips for preparation
  • How formal is the interview likely to be? Be prepared for anything.
  • Research what the job is likely to involve
  • Read any literature the company sends to you beforehand - they'll probably ask questions and you need to ask questions about the company.
  • Research the company and its competitors.
  • Check where the interview will be held, how long it will take you to get there and if possible, do a dry run beforehand to check how long the journey takes.
  • Try to find out who will be interviewing you. Are they part of the Personnel function, or will you be seen by your future (you hope) boss?
On the day

If you've got an interview, you know they're happy with your qualifications and experience. Now, they want to know what sort of person you are.
Don't just be on time, be early. Wandering around the streets for half an hour beforehand is a small price to pay for a relaxed journey knowing you won't be rushing in at the last moment after a panicky rush from the station or bus stop, or a frenzied search for a parking space.
If they've asked for certain qualifications, take your certificates and other evidence of achievements.
Listen carefully as the interviewer introduces him/herself and any co-interviewers, and use their names immediately when greeting them to help you remember them.
Smile! An American study showed that the single most important determinant of whether an interviewer will appoint someone is whether or not the interviewee smiles in the first four seconds.
Make sure your handshake is firm but not crushing. If in doubt, practice with a friend. Let the interviewer/s make the first move on shaking hands.
Be honest, be positive and be yourself. Use positive words when presenting what you've done - don't just say 'I play football...' but 'I enjoy playing football...'. If you belong to any clubs or societies, say so.
Don't try to present the image you think they're looking for. You may have got it wrong, and the real you is just what they want. Besides, if you get the job by acting a part, how well suited to the job do you think you'll be? And for how long does the charade have to go on? It would be very wearing to have to put on an act every day at work. Having said that, you naturally want to present the best parts of the real you. Just don't make anything up - you're sure to be found out!


There are many questions the interviewers could ask you, but what they want to know boils down to three things:
  • Why did you apply to us?
  • Why do you want the job?
  • Why should we employ you?
When answering questions:
  • Listen carefully, and make sure you really answer the question.
  • Don't rush in with your answer: if a question has really thrown you off balance, ask for time to think about it.
  • Answer as honestly as possible. If the interviewer has touched on an unsuccessful experience, admit it and tell them what you learned from it.
Here are some difficult questions you might be asked:
  • What are your strengths? An easy question - just be ruthful). But it's usually followed by
  • What are your weaknesses? Talk about a specific occasion when you didn't do well, and then tell the interviewer what you learned from the experience, and what you'd do differently in future.
  • Why should we give you the job? Again, it's time to do some bragging - it's almost the only opportunity you'll get!
  • Where do you see yourself in five years' time? The correct answer isn't 'in your job' - it's been done too often. This is your opportunity to show that you've researched the company and the industry by intelligently assessing where you're likely to progress to.
  • What relevance is your degree to this industry/company? Think about not only the information you've learned, but also the skills you've gained, such as research, report-writing, team-working and so on.
All these questions are easy to answer if you've prepared beforehand.
At the end, the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions. If you tend to go blank at this point, take along a list and consult it. The employer will be impressed by your forethought. If they've already answered all your questions, say so.
Thank the interviewer for his/her time at the end - they're human beings too, and everyone likes their efforts to be appreciated.
Finally, don't worry about the mistakes you have made: no one ever does a perfect interview. The people who get the jobs are generally those who kept their mistakes down to a minimum.

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