Before the interview
- Research the organisation - look at its website and read its latest annual report.
- Research the sector - take a look at industry association websites and magazines to get a feel for the latest developments.
- Prepare answers to the standard questions that form the basis of most interviews.
- Be ready with a few questions for the interviewer. This shows you're keen and on the ball.
- Check the format of the interview and find out who will be interviewing you - it could throw you if you unexpectedly have to face an interview panel of six people.
- Make sure you dress appropriately.
- Re-read your CV and application letter and take additional copies.
- Plan your journey and check for any potential delays.
At the interview
You never get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
- Get to your interview at least five minutes early. If you are going to be unavoidably delayed, make sure you let your interviewer know.
- Always switch off your mobile phone before you enter the recruiter's building.
Some interviewers try to provoke a reaction, often drawing candidates into an argument, or simply turning them into the proverbial rabbit in the headlights. Expect interviewers to throw a few trick questions your way. Some common ones include:
- What are your weaknesses?
- What would your colleagues say are your weaknesses?
- Describe a situation when your work was criticised.
The style of interviews varies dramatically, but here are a few key points to remember:
- Be friendly and courteous to everyone you meet from the receptionist onwards - you never know who might have a say in your appointment.
- Use positive body language.
- When answering questions, relate parts of the job description to relevant experience on your CV.
- Make the most of your research and quote it where appropriate.
- If you face a panel interview, make sure you talk to everyone rather than directing your answers at one person.
- Find out as much as you can about the job. For example, who would the employee report to; why is the situation vacant; and what are the promotion prospects?
- Never mention salary unless prompted to do so - and even then try not to agree to specific numbers without being given time to think.
- Always let the interviewer finish speaking before giving your response.
- When the interview is over, remember to ask when you can expect to hear back and what the next stage will entail.
Your interview planning starts long before you take your seat in the interview room. You’ll need to research, prepare, and plan for that moment in the spotlight, because - as the saying goes - you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.
Read some key tips on what to do before and during the interview process: