A crucial element of any career change is inevitably the interview. Our consultants understand and appreciate that interviews are daunting experiences and unless you are exceptionally confident in an interview scenario the secret to success is preparation.
Having got as far as the short list, it's essential to make the best of your interview opportunity by preparing. First impressions are invariably the most important so it is important to make the very best of the opportunity. At the interview, your main aim is to reinforce the excellent impression made by your CV.
Your CV has successfully sold you as a potential new employee. If the company did not think you were suitable for the position, you would not have been invited for an interview. Now they want to find out more about the type of person you are, and whether you will fit in to the company's working environment and culture. Your success from this stage forward depends on how you present yourself in the interview, and that depends on preparation.
First of all, find out as much as possible about the company. You may know someone who works there, or someone who is engaged in business with the company. If so, pick their brains. We will endeavour to send you as much information as possible on the interview, interviewer and company. Visit their website if they have one. If the opportunity to use this knowledge arises, you'll be able to demonstrate an impressive level of interest in the organisation.
Re-read the advertisement / job description for the position. Then consider what questions you might expect to be asked on the day. Prepare articulate and honest answers that will promote you in a good light. There is a list of commonly asked interview questions below which you should prepare answers to.
To do well on the day, you need to show you are:
- technically qualified to do the job;
- sufficiently motivated to get the job done well; and
- able to fit in with the company's structure and the team that you will be working with.
Ensure that your answers cover all these criteria.
Don't leave it until the day to find out how to get to the interview. If possible, try a dry run a few days before at approximately the same time of day as which you will be travelling, an find a suitable place to park if you are driving. On the day, leave additional time just in case you get caught in traffic or the public transport is running late. You should aim to arrive approximately 10 minutes before your interview time.
Body language can say it all... and, during an interview it can be especially revealing. It is important that you are aware of the signals, both positive and negative, which you are giving off to your prospective employer. One way of finding out what signals you are revealing unconsciously is to practice a mock interview with someone, and ask what impressions they received. You could be surprised. Use this information to practice your body language before the interview.
Think carefully about the position you are applying for when deciding what to wear to the interview. Select clothing in which you feel comfortable, but remember you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so if you are unsure, choose smart rather than casual dress. Avoid strong perfume or aftershave, as it can be extremely off-putting for the interviewer - especially if they do not like your choice.
On the day, walk in to the room with confidence and introduce yourself. A firm handshake is important, because a weak handshake can lead to a perception of a weak person. Look your interviewer fully in the eye, and greet them in a polite and friendly manner. Your body language during the first few moments of the meeting is crucial in presenting an open and honest image of yourself. First impressions are vital, as interviewers will be judging your integrity and professionalism from the moment you meet. However, beware of staring or holding direct eye contact for too long, as it can potentially appear or be construed as aggressive or confrontational.
Adopt a good posture. Don't cross your arms, fidget, tap your feel, sprawl or lean forward anxiously.
Practice giving an aura of confidence, even if you are shaking inside. And, look for the same in your interviewer. You want to work for an employer that you can respect and be proud of. Remember to smile when appropriate. This will help prevent your nerves from putting a frown on your face.
Listen to the language being used by the interviewer and phrase your responses in a similar way. For example, if the question is "how do you feel about...?", respond in the same vein. Watch the tone and volume of your voice throughout the interview. It's easy to whisper if you are very nervous, but equally don't over compensate and shout! Always think before you respond, rather than babble incoherently.
It is important to remember that an interview is a two-way process. While the interviewer is deciding whether you are the right candidate, you should be using the opportunity to ask questions, giving you an opportunity to discuss the position in more detail. Take advantage of this time.
Be aware of how the interviewer responds to your questions. Do they adopt an open, friendly stance or are they defensive and "closed"? The way in which they respond is important, particularly if they are the person you will be working under. Clarify any parts of the package that are unclear, such as benefits in kind, bonuses or private medical health.
Other questions you might want to ask include:
- What are the opportunities for career progression?
- What projects will I be involved with ?
- What are the training opportunities?
- Reviews - How often will your package be reviewed? Is it a graded system or based on merit and performance?
Other useful resources for interview are: