Good preparation is essential
to a successful job interview. Here's a guide to the basics you'll need
to cover to plan and practise your performance!
When you've been invited for an
interview, your thoughts naturally turn to giving a winning performance on the
day. A bit like exams, interviews can creep up on you, but good
preparation is the key to success.
So, here's a checklist to
signpost you to areas you may want to address. Some of it may seem a bit
obvious but, because many people don't interview frequently, it's worth
reminding yourself of the process.
Plan as far in advance as
Work on answers to the
most common interview
questions. The "tell me about
yourself" or "talk me through your CV" questions are normally
asked to ease you in, so make sure you're ready for them.
Have a short, two or three
minute response that you can give comfortably. Start with a strong statement,
such as: "I am a project manager with 15 years' experience of technology
projects in the media sector." Then follow this with a summarised chronological
story showing how you got to your current career position. No career history is
perfect, but if you have gaps in your CV – or lots of short jobs – have a way of telling the story around them without
Read carefully through the job
and person specification, identifying your experiences that demonstrate the
skills or knowledge gained. Again, practise articulating each one. Writing down
an answer is a good way to do this — reading it aloud, recording yourself or
having a mock interview is even better.
Now think about how you're
going to address the more tricky questions, such as, "where would you like to be in five years'
time?" or "what are your weaknesses?".
If it's not explicit in the
invite, find out the format of the interview and the number of people involved
beforehand. It's not that you have to prepare particularly differently, but if
you're expecting a relaxed chat with a HR person and you get five senior people
grilling you, it's likely to throw you.
Research the company, paying
attention to news stories, their website and strategic plans. See if you can
also speak to someone in your network who works or has worked there.
Before the interview
Prepare your interview outfit:
shine the shoes and plan grooming things like getting a haircut. Dressing well
can increase your confidence as well as boosting your
Work out where you're going,
travelling times and transport options. If you can factor in more time and
locate a coffee shop nearby, it may help to reduce travelling anxiety. Have a
copy of the job description and the person specification on you and a couple of
copies of your CV, all in a neat folder or portfolio case. Read through them
again before you head in.
During the interview
It's very easy to be so
intently focused on giving a good interview that you forget that it's a
two-way process. Notice how the reception
feels, how people behave towards each other, how the interview is run, and what
sense you get from the interviewer. You may even want to ask: "How do you
find working here?"
Don't be afraid to pause and
think. You don't need to fire back an answer in the first millisecond — and
sometimes it's good to acknowledge that you'll need a few moments for
consideration. In general, people speak too quickly in interviews because
they're nervous, so slow down if you notice yourself racing.
Make sure you're clear about
the next steps following the interview. Many organisations take a lot longer
than they say to get back to you, so it may be worth saying: "So you'll
let me know by next Monday? If I don't hear by Wednesday is it ok to drop you a
After the interview
As soon after the interview as
you can, find a quiet place and write down as many of the questions that you
were asked as you can remember. Rank how you answered them on a scale of one to
ten. Work on the answers in order from lowest to highest so that you can
improve for future interviews.
The next day, you could drop a
line to the interviewers thanking them for the opportunity, and asking any
questions that may be outstanding. But don't pester or stalk: some companies
prefer a defined process where you don't contact people directly. If you don't
hear by the allotted time, follow up.
Whether or not you are
successful in securing the role, look at is as a good opportunity to engage
people, grow your network and get better for next time round. If you're not
successful then ask for feedback, although many organisations are coy in case
feedback is used against them.
And if you're successful, well
done. Now it's time to start thinking about the second round of interviews.
Source: The Guardian Careers
‚The Guardian Careers to link to: http://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/job-interview-checklist-how-to-prepare)
in the Passage for:
Interview Questions: http://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/common-interview-questions
tricky questions: http://www.theguardian.com/careers/interview-help-questions
your professional image: http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2009/aug/17/job-interview-outfits
forget it’s the two-way process: http://www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/five-ways-to-improve-your-interview-technique
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