An interview is generally perceived as a nerve-racking experience, but remember that an interview is as beneficial to you as it is to the employer and with the right level of preparation you can promote yourself better than you ever thought possible.
The advice we outline here is by no means definitive as each interview varies from individual to individual and from client to client, but it may just give you that advantage you need over the other candidates.
Remember an interview is a sales call. You are the salesperson trying to sell yourself, the employer is the customer who needs to employee someone but has to be convinced that you are the one they should choose. It is your job to convince them that you are the 'Right Person' for the job
- Always remember that an interview is a 2-way process. Yes you are there to sell your abilities to the company, but the company also has to sell itself to you. At the end of the day you will be the one who makes the decision if you want to work for that company or not, so be prepared to make the interviewer work for their living.
- Prepare yourself with as much information on the company as you can, ring them up and ask for a Company brochure, get financial information from the company or from Companies House. A good knowledge of the company at interview is always impressive, also you need to know what you are getting into.
- Arrive early, being keen is a good signal, being late is a negative. Should you have to be late phone ahead and warn the company.
- Dress and act in a professional manner, first impressions are made within the first 5 minutes.
- Be relaxed, nervous fidgeting is often taken as a bad sign. Interviews can often be stressful occasions where you may find it difficult to promote your true value to the employer, however you will seldom get a second chance, so remember you want this job, it's mine, I'm going to get it. Talk to your interviewer, they too may find interviewing to be a stressful thing to do.
- Be confident, you want this job so show it. Retain eye contact at all times during the interview, but do not stare the interviewer into thinking you pose a threat. Do not use one word answers especially 'NO', always give reasons to your answers, use metrics where possible.
- Take useful material with you that will assist in showing your capabilities, portfolios, training certificates, published works, etc. Remember that you will have confidentiality's with your present/past employers so be careful what you show. Be selective,the interviewer does not want to see you life's work, just get an overview of what you can do.
- Get the interviewer to describe the job including your full job role and function within the company so that you can best convey your experience, skills and background during the interview.
- Always ensure that you have given your qualifications, where possible back them up with examples of achievement i.e. head boy/girl, first in the year, etc.
- Be prepared for a tough time. Employers rarely go out of their way to be aggressive, however they do have an important decision to make on the future success of their company, so making the right decision is paramount. So with this in mind do not expect to get an easy ride, be ready for tough questions, prepare in advance so that you can demonstrate your ability to deal with all situations and above all remain composed.
- Listen to what the employer is saying, concentrate on what they are actually saying not on what you think they are saying. If in doubt clarify questions, ensure that you answer the question the employer really asked. Also note the employer's body language and tone of voice, you should be able to pick up on their style and adjust yours to suit.
- Have the questions you want to ask ready and if necessary typed on on a sheet of paper to refer to. Ask your questions, you need to know if this job is right for you, so find out. Do not ask vague questions as these will only confuse you and the employer. There is nothing more frustrating than starting a job only to realise it was not what you thought it would be. Do not put yourself or the company in this situation as you will only end up doing a bad job and damage your reputation in the process.
Research as much as you can about the company, including past history, whether they are part of a group, products and/or services, end customers, culture and the future of the organisation. You can guarantee you will be asked, “What do you know about us?” this is an excellent opportunity to prove that you have prepared and in return ask your own questions in relation to the company to highlight your interest. They will be impressed by what you know and your interests!
Read the job description and your application, and analyse potential questions that they may ask you in regards to your relevant experience and in turn prepare questions yourself to open the job requirements and responsibilities, to clarify any grey areas that there may be.
TIP: One of the best ways to prepare is to run through a few likely interview questions and practice your answers before the day.
Some popular interview questions to be asked include:-
- What do you know about this company?
- What interests you about the job and how are you suitable?
- What key skills could you offer a prospective employer?
- What do you feel are you strengths and weaknesses?
- Describe your ideal job?
- You seem to have had a lot of jobs, what are the reasons?
- What are your career objectives – short and long term?
- Tell me about your current/previous boss?
- Has your job performance ever been appraised?
- What part of the job do you do best/worst?
- What are the most satisfying and frustrating parts of your current job?
- What would you change about yourself/colleagues/job?
- Why are you looking to move roles?
- How do you cope with stress in the work place?
- How would your boss describe you as a person?
- What have been your major achievements in the last 2 years?
- What has given you the most/least satisfaction over the last 2 years?
- Where do you see yourself in three years time?
- What has been your biggest challenge in life so far and how have you overcome it?
- What would you do on the first day of appointment to this job?
- Give me an example of a how you solved a recent work based problem?
When being asked about your current employer & manager it is crucial that you do not bad mouth the company or individual, this will only reflect negatively on you, how do they know that you are not the problem? Remember they have only just met you!
Examples of Questions for YOU to ask (don't be afraid to ask others): -
- How do you see the business progressing?
- Why is this position available?
- Will I be offered any future training?
- What would the career path be from this position?
Switch your mobile phone off before entering the building. Smile and be polite to the receptionist, introduce yourself and advise as to whom you are there to see and why.
It is important that during your interview you take your time to speak clearly and politely and do not use slang words or swear even if the interviewer does, stay professional at all times.
First Impressions: Dressing the Part
This is an important part of any interview as it can make your first impression with a prospective employer so dressing conservatively is the way to go: -
- For men: a two piece suit with a shirt and tie or alternatively a shirt, tie and trouser along with polished shoes. It is advised to stick to solid colours, if you prefer a patterned tie wear something simple, not elaborate and leave the Homer Simpson one at home.
- For women: a two piece suit, alternatively a knee length skirt or trousers with a tailored blouse and polished shoes. No excessive Jewellery.
Tips: Also take a folder with you containing your CV and Certificates, as well as any examples of project work or achievements that you feel are relevant to the role and offer to show these to the interviewers.
If you are required to take work boots with you, please try and carry these into the interview in a shoe box or a plain holder / bag.
Body Language, What to Say and what not to say...
Employers will not only be listening to your answers, they will also be watching them, as your body speaks another language. They will also watch your facial expressions when you are answering questions.
Upon arrival, introduce yourself to the interviewers, “my name is John, nice to meet you”, smile and greet them with a strong confident hand shake (without breaking their hands) whilst maintaining eye contact.
On entering the interview room, wait until invited to sit down. Sit up straight, this is a sign of confidence, you can also lean forward to the interviewers to show interest.
This is probably a case of what NOT TO DO instead of do’s. Therefore DO NOT: - Fidget, rock on your chair, tap your fingers, slouch, rub your head, scratch, touch or rub your nose (this is a sign of being dishonest), also do not invade the interviewers personal space by walking, standing or sitting to close to them: keep a 2ft gap! And DO NOT stare off into space as if you are bored!
TIPS: Remember, Firm Hand Shake, Eye Contact & Smile.
Interviews are carried out so that employers can find the best candidate for the job; they will come to their decision through asking you to talk through your skills, experiences and achievements, and depending on how you answer will define if you get the Job.
This is your opportunity to shine, tell the interviewer of your achievements. They will want details, for example have you improved efficiency, output or reduced wastage? if so how did you recognise the need for improvement, how did you overcome the problem and what was the outcome. Keep an eye on the prize and where possible relate your experience to the job description to show how you could best benefit them by hiring you.
You can be 100% confident and have done all the research possible, however you will be asked the dreaded what are your weaknesses question. When answering this question you want to come across as genuine, but you also do not want to draw attention to any negativity that may prevent you from securing the role.
A weakness can be an area of unfulfilled potential, or a deficiency to remedy. The trick is to turn your weakness into strength, put a positive spin on your answer, and tell them how you have improved on past weaknesses.
DO NOT say you have no weaknesses, no one person is perfect!
It is possible that during the interview process, you may be invited on a site tour, if this is the case make sure you are prepared and if you have safety boots, take them with you, highlight this to the interviewers as it shows initiative and planning.
During the tour, be conscious of your body language, make sure you are not slouching and dragging your feet and instead of just looking ahead, look at the machines and the facilities, see if you recognise any plant or controls etc. and engage with the person showing you around, do not just follow them around and say nothing. You will be being watched to see if you are interested and keen. Remember positivity!!!
After a series of questions regarding your skills, experiences, the company and the role, if the interviewers have not asked to see your qualifications, we recommend that you offer to show this to them, as you have already prepared and taken them with you in a folder along with copies of any references that you may hold.
Again this shows forwarding planning and initiative.
At the end of the interview the interviewers will more than likely thank you for your time and say we will be in touch or we have some more people to see.
Do not leave yet, thank them too for their time and interest then turn it around to the interviewers, “Thank you, however before I leave, may I ask if you have any reservations about me?” this may open more questions from them and if there are any concerns then this will give you the opportunity to over come them.
After which, once again thank the interviewers for their time, maintain eye contact, smile and shake hands and advise them that you look forward to hearing from them.
And Finally, Interview No No's...
Do not over-elaborate on answers to questions - Keep them to the point, clear and precise.
- Do not answer any questions you do not understand, this will make you look foolish. Ask the employer to be more specific on what they want to know.
Do not interrupt the employer. Be patient, wait for them to finish, then speak.
- Do not wear heavy perfume, cologne or jewellery.
- Do not be over friendly with the employer, always retain a professional attitude to the interview, after all this might not be the person you will be working for.