Preparation. You can never be over prepared for an interview, and preparation is the key to success. The better prepared you are, the more confident you will be. Find out as much information as possible about the company you are applying to; such as, their history, culture, competitors, etc.
In addition, research your interviewers; know their education, background, length of tenure with the company, etc. Ask family, friends and neighbours, read through newspapers and magazines in addition to the Internet. It is important you understand the role you are applying for. Ask for a copy of the job description if there is one (there isn’t always one). Learn it, know your CV inside out, and ensure you are able to link your experience and qualifications with the job description.
Be prepared to explain any gaps in your CV.
Make sure you know the exact location of the interview, drive by the location prior to the interview, checking out parking availability, etc. Remember to think ahead to the timing of your interview and allow for traffic, etc. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer, remembering the interview is a two way conversation and should be used to ascertain whether or not the role and the company will provide you with the career you are looking for.
First impressions count; look smart. You are not on your way to a disco so dress accordingly. General advice is to dress conservatively – a nice shirt/blouse and a pair of trousers or a skirt (although, it may be better if the boys stick to wearing trousers!) and make sure your shoes look clean and presentable. Never chew gum during an interview; it is very off-putting to a future employer. Keep makeup, perfume/aftershave and jewelry to a minimum. Finally, do not under any circumstances leave your phone on or answer a call on your cell phone during the interview and always remove your sunglasses and hats prior to an interview.
Arriving early for an interview shows eagerness on your part to the prospective employer. However, do not arrive more than 5 minutes early as this can be inconvenient. Being late for an interview is inexcusable and unacceptable.
What you may need
Having a pen and paper proves useful in case you have any important facts that need to be jotted down.
- Make sure you know the exact name of the individuals or people who will be interviewing you.
- Arrive a few minutes early and let the receptionist know who you are and who you are meeting with.
- Take a seat and make sure that your cell phone is switched off and you are not chewing gum.
- You want to present an impression of being self assured and quietly confident. When you first meet the interviewer, smile, look them in the eye and give a firm handshake – make a good first impression.
- Wait until you have been offered a chair before sitting.
- During the interview, maintain sensible eye contact but avoid staring.
- If there is more than one interviewer make sure that you address your answers to all interviewers and give eye contact to all.
- Allow the interviewer to control the meeting and demonstrate your listening skills as well as your verbal skills.
- Be aware of your body language and avoid tapping your feet, talking excessively with your hands, etc.
- Think before you speak!! Listen to the questions and take a moment before you answer. When talking about yourself, be positive and enthusiastic.
- Don’t answer questions with a yes or no; explain and describe your answer, but don’t waffle.
- Never initiate discussions on salary and/or benefits during the first stage interview and be prepared for questions regarding your salary expectations, making sure they are in line with the salary range for the position.
- Avoid being critical or making derogatory remarks about your current or previous employer.
- Prepare some questions for your interviewers so that you are ready when asked at the end of interview.
- Always end the interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer(s) for his/her time and establish the next stage of the process including timeframes.
After the interview, it can give you an edge if you write a thank you email or letter confirming your continued interest in the position and company. Do not pester or harass the interviewer/employer by continually calling or emailing them. Wait for them to contact you.