15
February
2011

Interview Tips

Person holding big TickBe enthusiastic and interested. The way you act, your posture, gestures and facial expressions, will reveal a lot about you.

Make good eye contact (but remember, it’s not a staring contest) and don’t be afraid to smile when it’s appropriate.

You will almost always be interviewed by more than one person, always look at and address the person who posed the question, then glance at the others when you have finished your answer.

Adopt a good posture. Don’t cross your arms, fidget, tap your feet or sprawl.

Sounding positive
You must be ready to expand on, not simply repeat, the information presented on your CV/application and anticipate the route the interviewer might take. Rarely does someone fit a job perfectly so emphasise your most relevant skills and slant answers to reassure the interviewer that any shortfall is not a problem.

  • Don’t use tentative language. Phrases such as ‘I feel I could’, ‘I think I can’. ‘Perhaps I would’ – dilute the strength of your case.
  • Don’t confine your answers to just ‘yes’ and ‘no’ which make the interview more like an interrogation.
  • Be enthusiastic but don’t constantly interrupt.
  • Practice makes perfect. Before the interview, test your fluency by talking out loud or presenting to partners and friends.
  • Don’t be evasive. Make a virtue of any career gaps.

Handling tough questions with confidence

Employers will ask questions deliberately designed to see how you behave and react in certain situations. Giving a positive, fluent answer isn’t as difficult as it might seem. With a little advance planning, it’s perfectly possible to anticipate common general enquiries and prepare a coherent, effective response. In fact, you can turn these questions into an opportunity to take the initiative and ‘sell’ the exact message you want.

Never answer a question you don’t understand with a knee-jerk response. Always seek clarification before answering and if you don’t know an answer, it’s much better to admit this than guess.

Be prepared for the following questions

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • How would your recent/current manager describe you?
  • What is your career path for the future?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  • What motivates you to be successful?
  • How do you react when you are left to work without supervision?
  • Give me an example of when you feel you have coped extremely well under pressure at work?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This final question is particularly tricky. Obviously, you can’t claim to have no weaknesses, but you don’t want to stress anything too negative. The best solution is to admit to one weakness and then turn it around and show how you have constructively overcome it.

The interview is a two-way process
At the end of the interview the employer will usually ask if you have any questions about the job or company, so always prepare a few in advance. This is a good chance to clarify any points of doubt – after all, you need to make sure that the job is exactly what you expected and what you want.

Suggested questions to ask when appropriate

  • What are the opportunities for career progression?
  • What are the training opportunities?
  • What are my precise responsibilities?
  • Would it be possible to see where I would be working?
  • How much travel is involved?
  • What are the targets for the first 6 months?
  • How long will it take you to make a final recruitment decision?

Closing on a confident note
Leave the employer with a good final impression. Smile, thank them for their time, say you enjoyed discussing the job and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. Don’t add any afterthoughts as you leave the room.