It is almost impossible to receive a job offer without first attending an interview of some sort, and who would want to take a job without first meeting their boss and perhaps a few colleagues? The secret of a successful interview lies in preparation, so it’s worth spending a little time doing your homework to make it a positive, useful experience.
Good employers understand the pitfalls of interviewing, such as the tendency of people to recruit in their own image, but the process is slowly becoming more structured, sophisticated and balanced. Indeed, in some sectors the humble interview has been practically elevated to an art form, such as the travel or hospitality industries, in order to better assess applicants.
Research the organisation and its sector – look at the web site, read at least one decent broadsheet newspaper each day, or quiz anyone you know who has worked there.
Prepare answers to standard questions. like
1. Tell us about yourself.
2. What do you know about us?
3. What are your strengths?
4. Tell us something about your family.
Be ready with a few questions for the interviewer which show that you have done your homework about the organization and its business. The recruiter wants to know that you are on the ball.
Ring and check who will be interviewing you – it could throw you if, instead of the one-to-one you had imagined, you are faced with an interview panel of six people.
Check the format of the interview – for example will there be any personality or skills testing?
Dress appropriately. In case you are not aware of the company culture, don’t take a chance and dress formal.
Read through your CV and application letter and take additional copies.
At the interview
Turn up on time and be nice to everyone you meet from the receptionist onwards – you never know who might have a say in your appointment.
Make the most of your research – mention some of the facts you have gleaned from the media, etc.
Make sure you talk to everyone if it is a panel interview rather than directing your answers at one or two people only.
Find out as much as you can about the job – how else will you be able to decide if they make you an offer? For example, you should want to know who the job reports to and why it has become vacant.
If the first interview is with a recruitment consultant, pump him or her for as much information as possible about the organisation and the job.
Be late – in fact, try to arrive early.
Criticise current or previous employers.
Answer a question with another question.
Interrupt the interviewers – although they may interrupt you.
Leave without finding out when you will hear if you have made it to the next round of the recruitment process, and what that will involve.
After the interview
Learn from your mistakes – make a list of the questions you answered well and those you answered poorly. Think about what you should have said.