Preparing for your interview

So, your CV has captured the interest of your potential new employer, you now need to get through the interview stage to secure the dream job you have been seeking. In all aspects the most important part is preparation not only in terms of researching the company you want to work with, but your own personal preparation.

The first impression you give to your potential employer will shape the way your interview goes. The way you present yourself will enhance the likelihood of your getting that all important job offer.

Before you start

If you look good, chances are you will feel good. Allow plenty of time to present yourself to your best. Prepare your interview outfit: shine the shoes and plan grooming things like getting a haircut. Dressing well can increase your confidence as well as boosting your professional image.

Make sure you know where you are going and allow time in your schedule for things to go wrong, but don't be too early, not everyone has a reception area!Takes your notes, questions, spare CV and job description with you in a neat folder. Spend a few moments to recap the requirements for the job so that you are focused and confident.

Switch your mobile phone off.

The interview

Prepare to ask questions. These should not be things that can be easily discovered through simple research. Think about what you want to know about the specific company, and how working there will be different from working somewhere else. Ask for more information about one of the tasks that are part of the job description. Show that you've read the job description closely and are thinking about what your daily life at the company would look like.

Prepare to answer the basic questions that you will be asked. Though an interview always has the potential to surprise you, there are a series of basic questions that you'll tend to see in an interview, so it's best to be prepared to answer them thoroughly and honestly before you walk into the interview so you don't look like you're caught off guard or like you haven't spent any time actually thinking about the interview. Here are some key questions that you may be asked:

What do you know about our company?

What are your strengths?

Can you give us a concrete example to illustrate them?

What are your weaknesses? (Do not say that you have no weaknesses or that you've never made a mistake. This will make you look like you're full of yourself.)

Why do want to work for this company?

Why do you think you'd be a good fit?

What are your long term career goals?

What was the biggest professional challenge you've ever faced? How did you tackle it?

Are you good at working in teams?

Why are you choosing to leave your present company? (If you're currently employed elsewhere, be honest about wanting to leave without being overly negative or bad-mouthing your employer. You should be respectful at all times.)

Be clear. If you need something clarified, don't be afraid to ask. You'll do better if you know exactly what is being asked of you. Just don't ask a question every two seconds or you'll sound like you don't know what's going on.

Sell yourself. What are your unique selling points and how can you match them to what they want? Make sure you use plenty of examples as proof of your abilities. Show the interviewer that you can find the positives in your past experiences—this is not a time to complain about what you hated about your previous work situation.

Remember those examples of your strengths that you wrote down earlier? This is exactly when they'll come in handy.There's a difference between being confident and bragging. Make sure you show what a capable, intelligent employee you are without singing your own praises.

Be polite. Listen to each question fully before you begin to respond. Never assume that your interviewer has read your CV, but don't treat him or her as though he or she hasn't, either. Part of being polite is remembering to thank the interviewer. Tell the interviewer you have enjoyed meeting them, that you have been impressed by what you've seen today and that you would be very interested in taking it to the next stage.

Tips

Allow extra time for finding a parking place. It can sometimes be challenging to find a parking place at an unfamiliar site. Bring change to load up the parking meter if parking meters apply.

Be early for the interview. Try to be 10 to 15 minutes early. Use any wait time to review your notes. Being late or just barely on time tends to cause stress and it can show during the interview.

Offer a firm handshake at the start and end of the interview.

Maintain good eye contact.

Do not be distracted by other events and try to control your hand movements!

Someone who shows a positive personality and team player qualities can have a big advantage over those who just show a technical side. Be professional, but it's good to be friendly too.

Find a balance between stating your good qualities but not coming across as someone who is bragging about themselves.

If asked about something you know nothing or very little about, it's better to say what you know and then be honest and say something like "This is not my strongest area...but I'm very willing to learn."

Try not to answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Elaborate and sell yourself, your skills and your experience.