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In this section we look at the important role an interview plays in the selection process

Some people enjoy being interviewed and consider themselves as a candidate who ‘interviews well’. However, most people will confess that the interview situation is not one they feel naturally comfortable with! Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to make the whole situation seem less of an obstacle

There are three main areas to focus on before attending any interview:

  • Planning and preparation
  • Know your CV
  • Know your potential employer

Planning and preparation

In order for you to feel confident and comfortable before and during the interview, some planning and preparation is absolutely vital.

Before the interview:

During the interview

  • If you have prepared well, i.e. you know about the job you are applying for, you know your CV and you know something about the company (if it is a different company you are going to work for), then you should feel confident to answer any question that the interviewer may ask.
  • If you are asked a question you do not understand, ask the interviewer to repeat it or re-phrase how they’ve asked it. This is much better than saying, "I don’t know" or giving an answer off the top of your head.
  • Don’t worry about pausing and thinking before you answer. Again this shows that you are thinking carefully about your answer rather than rushing your responses.
  • Try to avoid answering with just a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’
  • Remember, the interviewer is interested in you as a person and what experiences you’ve had. Be prepared to expand on your CV or application form.
  • The interviewer should be looking for evidence that you can do what you’ve said you can. Be prepared to substantiate what you say with real life examples.
  • If you need to ask questions during the interview, keep them brief. There should be time at the end of the interview for you to ask any questions you may have.

At the end of the interview

Interviews are a two-way process and at the end of the interview you should be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Try to keep your questions as a combination of what’s important to you but also demonstrate an interest in the job or company.

If it helps, write your questions down before the interview. Here are some suggestions:

  • What are the main responsibilities of the job?
  • How many people are in the team I shall be working with/managing?
  • What are the current objectives for the team?
  • What are the current company objectives?
  • What are the greatest challenges you are currently facing?
  • Who are your main competitors?

Once the interview is over, the interviewer should let you know what happens next. For example, you may be called for another interview, you may need to go through an assessment centre, you may receive a letter in the post letting you know if you were successful or not.

When you leave, thank the interviewer for their time and wish them Goodbye.

Practice questions

  • Make sure you know the date, time and location of the interview. If you have to travel to the interview, think about doing a dummy run beforehand to ensure you have an idea of how long it may take you to get there.
  • Consider the time of the interview, i.e. if it is at 9.00am; allow extra time for rush hour traffic etc. Try to arrive about 20 – 30 minutes before the interview. This gives you enough time to visit the toilet, freshen up etc. but not so much time that you start worrying about the interview itself.
  • Plan what you are going to wear and make sure this is ready the evening before. Wear appropriate clothing for the job being interviewed. Some jobs may require very formal dress whereas others simply require the smart/casual look.
  • Take along any reference material you need, i.e. a copy of your CV, the letter inviting you to the interview any certificates or references you have been asked to bring along. Make sure these are kept together neatly; a folder or ring binder is often handy.
  • Know your CV! This is probably one of the most important things you can do before the interview. If a CV has been asked for as part of the selection process, most interviewers will use this as a basis for their questioning. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how well you have performed in your current job and how you are most suited to the position you are now applying for.
  • Be prepared to further explain the skills and experiences mentioned on your CV. Ensure you have examples to give and are able to explain what you did in a given situation, what went well, some of he things that may have hindered you and how you dealt with any problems.
  • As part of your planning and preparation, take time to sit down with your CV and the job advert and make notes about your relevant experience. Try to think of some of the questions that you would ask yourself if you were the new employer and practice what answers you would give.
  • Most interview questions begin along the lines of "tell me about yourself" or "talk me through your work experiences so far". Make sure you have prepared a response to this type of question. It doesn’t have to be a life history, just a brief and clear re-cap of your working life and maybe something about what you do outside of work as well.
  • Know your potential employer. If it is a different company to the one you currently work for; try to gather some information about them before the interview. (What they do how they are organised, sales teams, aftersales teams etc.)

Why not begin your preparation now! If you would like to practice your responses to some general interview questions click here

Another way you could prepare for an interview is to ask your line manager to ‘role-play’ the interview with you. Ask them to ask you the practice questions as if you were actually being interviewed.

This can benefit those that have not been interviewed for some time.