What should I do before an interview?
It is most unwise to go to an interview without some preparation. You should review the job and the organisation. You can find out information about the employer such as its size, locations or likely future developments from the advertisement, from the internet and from other sources. You should also find out about the job, including the sort of work you might do and the training available. You must review your reasons for applying and what you have to offer.
You should make a list of questions the interviewer might ask, and those you will ask. Look through your copy of your application form (or CV and covering letter) as part of your preparation for the interview.
If you have a list of questions, keep them in mind so that you can ask them at the end of the interview if they have not all been covered.
Check the date and time of the interview - make your travel arrangements, so that that you arrive in good time.
What will happen at the interview?
The interview gives you the chance to assess the employer and allows you to show the positive aspect of your personality.
Your application form or CV has aroused sufficient interest for the organisation to want to assess you in person. You seem to have some or all the necessary skills, motivation and personal qualities to meet the requirements of the job. Interviewers will want to check these out. They will do this by asking you questions based largely on what you wrote in your application form.
What sort of topics might be covered?
- your time at school or college; your activities and interests; your vacation employments; your work experiences.
- your knowledge of the job your are applying for.
- the kind of person you are; your attitudes and values; your range of achievements.
- your future career intentions and aspirations and how you came to formulate them.
You should make a good impression right from the start by being open, honest and friendly and remember - you are allowed to smile and use gentle humour!
What is the format of an interview?
You will usually find that the initial stage of an interview consists of “small talk” eg 'Did you have a good journey?' This is followed by the main phase and questions about your studies, interests, achievements and aspirations. The final stage is an invitation for you to ask questions and at the closure the interviewer thanks you for coming and explains what the next move might be – ask if they don’t.
What should I remember during the interview?
Speak clearly and at a moderate speed, try not to fidget or make elaborate gestures. Sit in an alert and receptive posture, looking at the interviewer when you are talking. Avoid straight 'Yes' or 'No' answers, develop your responses a little to say something about yourself. Always give examples to put what you say into a context. Do yourself justice by putting experiences into a positive light. If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
Be natural and honest and try to appear enthusiastic. If you are asked an unexpected question, take your time – don’t feel pressurised into giving an immediate answer. Remember, the interviewer wants to know how suited you are to the job and to working in the company, not seeing how you perform at interview.
Try to enjoy the interview – remember – you are talking about someone you know better than anyone else.
Remember, first impressions count! Your appearance will also influence the interviewer, so make sure you are neat and tidy and that your clothes look clean and smart. If you appear scruffy and unkempt, the interviewer will think this is your approach to your work as well!
What are some typical questions?
- tell me about yourself
- what aspects of school/college have you enjoyed the most/least? why?
- how do you spend your holidays?
- why do you think you would be particularly suited to this job?
- why are you interested in this company?
- what do you see as your strengths/weaknesses? Use your “weaknesses” to say something positive about yourself e.g. my spelling is poor but as I am aware of this I always spell-check my written work.
- what would you like to be doing in five years time?
Modern interview technique puts importance on each candidate being asked the same questions (within reason). Therefore many questions will be open ended and try to find out about your skills and attitudes in different situations. They will be in the form of:
- tell me about a situation when you showed leadership;
- describe a time when you had to support others in a difficult situation;
- give me an example of when you had to be self motivated to achieve something.
Before the interview you should think about five or six events in your life where you displayed personal skills, achieved results, turned apparent failure into success, influenced others and even when things went wrong but you learnt a tough lesson about life. Use these examples when answering questions in the interview