You rarely get a second chance to make a good impression to a prospective employer, so, at your interview, it is important that you get it right first time.

Preparation

Interviews are two way meetings. Not only are they an opportunity for the interviewer to find out about you, and if you are a suitable candidate for the position, but they are also an opportunity for you to find out about the organisation, and if the position will provide you with the challenge and job satisfaction for which you are looking.

Think about your skills, qualifications and experience and ensure that you can talk confidently about them. Particularly ensure that you can talk about those skills that are relevant and valuable for the position you are targeting.

Prepare some questions for the interview. At the first interview it would be wise to restrict your questions to the details of the job and the organisation. Salary and benefit discussions are best left until a second interview or if a job offer is made.

Find out as much as possible about the company prior to the interview. A good starting point is to look up their website and find out about their products and the services they offer.

Ensure you are aware of the location of the office/s and who you will be meeting with.

Dress Code and Appearance

Suits or jackets and skirts/trousers are essential. It would be very inadvisable to attend an interview dressed casually. Ensure that you are well groomed with tidy hair, clean shoes and clothing.

Do not wear too much perfume or aftershave and keep make-up, jewellery and nail polish simple and discreet.

Some companies do not consider it appropriate for their employees to have numerous facial piercings, especially if they are in customer facing roles.

Travel and Timing

Plan your journey beforehand to ensure you arrive a few minutes early allowing for possible travel delays.

The Interview

Interviews come in many forms – panel interviews, one to one interviews, group interviews etc.

You may be asked to take a test prior to the interview; this could be a numeracy & literacy test, psychometric test, competency or aptitude test.

Numeracy and literacy tests are quite basic and are just to establish your educational level. Most people are more than capable of passing these tests but they tend to panic at the word ‘test’ – it would be a good idea to practice on any kind of test downloaded from a website just to familiarise yourself with reading and answering questions.

Psychometric tests are to establish the type of person you are and where your skills lie – there are no correct answers and you cannot fail this type of test.

Competency tests are designed to find out what practical experience you have and also what skills you have learned during your working or educational life. For example instead of being asked if you are able to prioritise tasks, you will be asked to give an actual example of a time you prioritised a task or instead of being asked if you were able to manage your time well, you will be asked for an example of how you managed your time.

Aptitude tests are to see what your practical skills are like regarding problem solving. You may, for example, be asked to put a list into alphabetical order (for filing).

There are many different interview styles and each interviewer will have their own personal style. Some interviewers will fire questions at you whilst others will start off with an open question such as ‘tell me about yourself’ leaving you to do most of the talking. The majority of interviews will be somewhere in between the two.

Interviewers will usually take into account the age and experience of the candidates and will usually be encouraging and friendly.

Two Way Communication

Make sure the employer knows the benefits of employing you. It’s important to sell yourself by telling the employer details of the relevant skills and experience that you have to contribute to the organisation.

Try not to monopolise the meeting – Let the Interviewer talk.

Find out what the key parts of the job are so you can show how you meet them.

Ask how the job contributes to the success, efficiency and profitability of the organisation.

Show that you have done some research.

Don’t criticise previous employers or jobs.

If you are interested in the role and the company as an employer tell the interviewer.

Remember

Remember to smile and to be polite to all the staff you meet, including the receptionist.

Unless you feel particularly confident do not accept tea or coffee at the interview as it can get in the way.

Never ever chew gum or smoke at an interview. Do not interrupt the interviewer.

Listen carefully and if you do not know the answer to a question then repeat the question back to the interview, for example, ‘so, you would like to know my future long term career plans…’ it will give you time to think of an answer.

People conducting interviews are human too, they are not out to trip you up or to make you feel a fool but simply to see if you would be suitable to work in their organisation. They are doing their job by interviewing you and interviewing can be difficult and stressful for the interviewer too. If you try to put them at their ease then you too will feel more comfortable. If all else fails SMILE it changes everything