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Coping with Interviews

After coming through all the hurdles of the selection process, you will eventually arrive at an interview. This is of course, a major obstacle for many job applicants. Although they may have the qualifications, experience and a proven track record, they may lose out to a candidate who 'interviews better.'

So what does 'interviewing better' actually mean? It comes down to the candidate being well prepared and confident. A candidate who can answer questions in a way which is acceptable (but not necessarily right) to the interviewer, someone who knows something about their potential employers business and the post they hope to fill. These are really the basic components of any candidate who 'interviews well'. There are undoubtedly other aspects employers may look for in relation to specific posts - having their own ideas, articulate, thinking on their feet, aspects which will be related to the job and to the company's preference in employees.

The employer will also be looking to fill a post, which has a particular job specification - in other words personal aspects besides the experience, and qualifications that can be put down on paper. The interviewer will set out to ascertain that the candidate has these personal qualities, skills and abilities the company requires.

These two essential ingredients are interlinked. Good preparation instils confidence.

So the basic approach to an interview is to be well prepared. This means two things - preparing yourself practically for the interview, and gathering knowledge and information you can draw on during the interview.

* Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and name of interviewee where appropriate.

* Check out how you will get to the location, and when you need to set off to be there in good time - do a dummy run if necessary. Plan to get there no earlier than half an hour before the interview time, anticipate delays.

* Have what you are going to wear ready in advance - everything down to your underwear.

* Do not go to the interview laden down with baggage - psychological as well as physical.

* Take the bare minimum of belongings necessary.

* Concentrate on the interview at the interview - nothing else.

* If you are asked to bring certificates, references etc, get them ready before the day.

* Take your interview letter.

* On arrival ensure the receptionist knows you are there, visit the toilets to tidy up etc.


If you are well organised and have planned for the day your confidence will increase.

The interview is a chance for you and the employer to get to know one another. It is NOT the time to get to know about the post or the employers business.

Do gather information about your employer before you are interviewed - what do they do, what are their current projects, what other interests do they have? Ask staff - many companies will offer you the chance to talk about the vacancy with someone, use the opportunity to find out more about the company.

Bigger companies will have PR departments, smaller ones will provide you with some information - libraries can provide information on local business and keep directories of national business. Use the internet - many companies have a presence here now.

Make sure you know what the job entails - get a job description, ask someone in a similar post; ring the company to clarify if unsure.

Remember the employer is interested in you as a person, your experiences and your opinions (in most cases). Do take the time to sit down and think about you, who you are and what you've achieved. It can be highly embarrassing to know more about the employer than yourself.

Sit down with your CV and make notes, about your work record, what you've achieved. Look at yourself as a person in employment - how do you see yourself, what have you done, what ambitions do you have. Make notes and prepare and rehearse sound bites about yourself. Remember that one of the most common of interview questions is 'Tell me about yourself' prepare a sound bite for this in particular, but not a life history. Usually interviewers want to know about personal qualities not achievements - though examples can be included to support your statement.

Interviews vary tremendously, from very informal to formal. However, some questions can be anticipated, as can the subject matter. If you are well prepared, then the majority of problem questions should not arise. You will know about the company, you will know about yourself and you will have a good idea of the demands of the job - these questions will not be a problem to the well prepared interviewee.