Career Advice

Interview guide

Here we address the following points:

1. The Reason You are at the Interview

If you've been invited to an interview your prospective employer already believes that you can do the job. You are at the interview for the following reasons:

  • to reinforce the information you have already provided
  • to illustrate that you will do the job
  • to illustrate that you can think on the spot
  • to demonstrate that you are articulate
  • to illustrate that you will fit in with the rest of the organisation
  • to answer any additional questions your prospective employers may have

2. The Need for Thorough Preparation

The way to interview success is via thorough preparation.

Learn as much as you can about the employer. Illustrating how you can be of benefit by direct reference to aspects of the employer's business or activities will make a very strong positive impression.

Rehearse answering a range of questions that you anticipate being asked several times and out-loud to yourself or others. You may find that this a strange experience at first but it will make a tremendous difference to how well you perform at the interview.

3. Responding to Questions

Remember that everything you say at the interview has to illustrate the benefits that you can bring to the employer.

Every time that you have the chance to respond to a question is an opportunity to impress. Every response lets you illustrate how well you could perform the job. However, not all questions should be answered directly. For example, the adequacy of your experience may be questioned in some respects. Do not simply agree that you do not have the right experience. You would not be at the interview if the employer thought that you could not do the job. Acknowledge the interviewers' concerns but illustrate how the experience and skills that you do have will enable you to carry out the job to a high standard.

Do not criticise your previous employer. This will only reflect badly on you. For example, instead of saying that there were insufficient training opportunities where you were working previously, say that you are looking for more training opportunities.

If asked about your weaknesses choose a genuine weakness, but one that is not relevant to the current job if possible. In addition, illustrate what you are doing or did to overcome that weakness. In that way you will be seen as a pro-active individual. Remember, the employer does not care so much about what the weakness is but rather the manner in which you handle the question.

Do not say that your weakness is that "I'm a perfectionist" or anything of that nature. You may find yourself heading for the door soon afterwards.

4. Presentation

Dress to suit the organisation. If in doubt about what is appropriate then wear a dark suit.

Make sure that you arrive in good time. Do not smoke before or during an interview. Interviewers will not appreciate smelling your cigarettes. Do not accept drinks if you can avoid it. If absolutely necessary accept a glass of water. Do not chew gum.

Body language is very important. Do not slouch. Make sure that your handshake is firm but not excessively so. Try to keep your hands relatively still so as not to distract the interviewer from what you are saying. If you can make the interviewer smile during the interview this will help you to form a helpful bond. However, do not tell jokes. Maintain appropriate eye contact so that you appear confident, but do not stare.

If you are asked whether you have questions say yes. Ask about for example, the organisation and training opportunities. Do not ask about salary or benefits until you are made a formal offer of employment.

At the end of the interview thank the interviewer for seeing you.

Assume that you are being assessed from the moment that you have contact with anybody from or connected with the organisation until the moment that all contact ceases - reception staff, among others, may also be asked for their opinion of you.