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Being invited for interview means you have overcome
the first hurdle. Your application was good enough to make it
beyond the bin. However, there's a long way still to go!
is essential to performing well in an interview. You may or may
not be the world's best at selling yourself and thinking on your
feet, but good preparation will always help you. There are various
vital things you need to prepare before you go for an interview.
you took a copy of your application form or your covering letter!
This is the time to re-read what you wrote. Try to think about it
from the employer's point of view. What are your strong and your
weak points? What areas might need clarification? Is there anything
not on the form that you think they need to know?
put in your application is fair game for an interview question,
so be prepared to expand on any of the information you have given.
Know the job
job description. Talk to people doing the same type of job. List
the skills and qualities needed and think about the evidence you
can draw from your experience to demonstrate that you have them.
The more you
can demonstrate that you know about the job, the more likely it
is that the employer will believe you when you say you are well
suited to it.
Know the organisation
Find out as
much as you can about the employer. Try the employer information
files in the Careers Service. If you can get the annual report,
read it. If there is a video, watch it. Companies often have mission/vision
statements or key principles: try to think of situations in your
own life which demonstrate those principles.
Keep your eyes
on the news for any stories about the organisation or about their
sector. Make a note of the facts and try to form opinions.
hold presentations. As well as being a useful source of information,
these events can be an opportunity to meet some of the people whom
you might be working with if you are successful.
Know the details
time of the interview, the date, the location (it may not be at
the employer's offices) and the name and job title of the interviewer.
It is probably best to take the letter inviting you to interview
along with you. Have their phone number available in case anything
Make sure you
know how to get there and how long it will take. Make sure that
you have the right clothes washed and ironed and that you've set
the alarm clock! Try to get a good night's sleep.
On the day
are not just concerned about what answers you give to their questions.
There are many factors which they will be taking into consideration,
from how you dress to how you cope with the killer question.
on time (preferably early - give yourself time to calm down, go
to the toilet, etc.). Dress appropriately (as if you already worked
for them). Watch your body language (firm handshakes, smile, make
eye-contact, be attentive, don't fidget). Remember, first impressions
Employers may ask you a variety
of questions, but in essence they only want to know three things,
and these are the questions you need to answer with evidence:
Some typical questions are given below.
- Can you do the job?
- Do you have the appropriate qualifications, knowledge, skills
and experience to do what they want you to?
- Will you do the job?
- Do you have the right motivation and enthusiasm? Are you really
keen on this job or would you rather be doing something else?
If you enjoy the job, you will work hard and they will get value
- Will you fit in? - Do
you fit in with the people who work there? Would people enjoy
working with you or would you seriously damage morale by being
- Try to relax and be
yourself. Breathing slowly and deeply before you go in can help.
As you sit down, get yourself into a comfortable but alert position.
- Pay careful attention
to the interviewer - answer the question they ask, not the one
you wish they'd asked.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
Give yourself time to think
- Don't give 'yes' or
'no' answers. Volunteer relevant information about yourself.
Your responses should be long enough to answer the question,
but not too long.
- Always watch the body
language of the interviewer: this can often tell you whether
you need to expand on something or shut up.
- Avoid going off at a
tangent or becoming involved in unnecessarily detailed explanations.
- Be truthful but positive.
Even if you have to present negative information (e.g. a failure
or a weakness), say how you learned from it or overcame it.
- Don't be afraid to ask
for clarification if you don't understand the question. You
may also ask for a little time to think (but not too often).
- Do be enthusiastic,
interesting, animated, or whatever else comes naturally to you
(with reasonable caution). Don't be an interview robot.
anything you should already know from the brochure, or about salary,
holidays, etc. Good topics to ask about are: training, career development,
working conditions, the organisation, what happens next, etc. If
they have answered all your questions, just say so.
What you do
- Think about what you've
learned and your impressions of the employer. The interview
is your opportunity to decide if you want to work for them.
- Reflect on the interview.
Make a note of the questions they asked. Were you satisfied
with your answers, or could you do better next time?
- If they don't contact
you when they said they would, or if it has been a long time
since the interview (more than two weeks), try ringing to check
- If you are rejected,
try ringing to ask if they could tell you the main reasons.
They can only say no!
What they do
let you know how long it will be until you hear from them. Their
next communication (if it's not a rejection) could be a job offer
or an invitation to a second interview or assessment centre. Make
sure you know what to expect.
Types of question
- Tell me about your course/project.
- Why did you choose that
- What did your vacation
- I see you are interested
in the theatre: what was the last play you saw?
- Are your A-level results
a fair reflection of your ability?
About the job
- Why do you want to be
- What makes you think
you would be good at the job?
- How would you define
- How do you see your
career developing over the next five years?
- What other jobs/employers
have you applied to?
- Describe a situation
in which you have had to make quick decisions/deal with difficult
- What is your greatest
- What have you done to
prepare for this interview?
- What qualities do you
see in others that you wish you had yourself?
- One of the principles
of this company is integrity. Can you give me an example of
a difficult situation in which you have shown integrity?
(Don't worry about finding the perfect answer.
The employer is testing your powers of reasoning and seeing if you
can explain your decisions clearly and persuasively.)
- If you were a consultant,
which of our competitors would you recommend we take over?
(Try to have an awareness of what is in the
news. Have opinions and be prepared to defend them politely.)
- What will the Chancellor
put in his next budget?
can come at any stage in the selection process and can take many
forms. You may be interviewed on a one-to-one basis by a personnel
manager, someone from the relevant department, or even a psychologist.
You may face more than one interviewer. You may be interviewed at
the employer's premises, at your college, in a hotel, or possibly
over the telephone.
thing to remember is that the basic principles mentioned above apply
to any situation.
panels of seven or more have been known. You can't talk to all of
them at once. Concentrate on giving your answer to the person who
asked you the question, but include the others with an occasional
try to test how you react under pressure by firing rapid questions
at you, or being aggressive or offensive. This does not happen as
often as rumour would lead us to believe. Keep cool and try not
to take it personally.
try to give every candidate the same chance by asking them all the
same questions. Whilst you must always answer the questions asked,
be ready to volunteer extra relevant information.
have started using these as a recruitment method. In some cases
you might have to undergo a telephone interview to check your qualifications
and experience before you can obtain an application form. A possible
development in the future could be interviews over a video-conferencing
Virtual Job Interview
- Applications and Interviews,
- 'Why Ask Me That?',
- Great Answers to Tough
Interview Questions, Martin John Yate
- The Perfect Interview,