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Useful stuff - Interview techniques

The 8 steps to a good interview

Good preparation brings dividends – find out as much as you can about your prospective employer, its outputs, branches, turnover, customers, etc. The Internet is probably the best research tool but the Kompas Register is available from all good public libraries and is a great source of information. You could even telephone the Company’s Marketing Department and ask for an information pack to be sent to you – a demonstration of keenness and initiative.

Find out where the interview is taking place and, if necessary, recce the location so you can time your journey and arrive a few minutes before your appointed time. Investigate public transport options or parking facilities. DON’T BE LATE – look smart and well groomed and although it is not necessary to turn up in a pin-striped suit, try to avoid jeans and trainers.

You should know the name of your interviewer, who else will be on the panel, whom to ask for on arrival and approximately how long the interview will last. Concept Personnel will provide you with this information but keep a note of names and job titles.

First impressions count - enter the room with a smile, looking calm, prepared and offer a firm handshake. Sit comfortably and don’t fidget. Remember you are probably one of approximately six candidates and you want to be the one that stands out.

The interview will probably start with the interviewer telling you about the job and a little about the Company. You are likely to be asked to talk about yourself and your career/work experience to date, so have a potted history ready but keep it fairly brief. Bring out the important points to demonstrate your relevant experience and how you have progressed through your career. If this is an interview for a first job then talk about your education, work experience, and why you decided on the courses taken.

If you are asked a question you cannot answer, it is best to be honest and say so, but try and turn this into a positive situation by asking the interviewer to explain the answer to you. Some interviewers will ask really tough questions simply to see how you react, but take your time, think about your answers and you will find there is always a response you can make. If you get really stuck then it is better to ask to pass on to the next question and come back to that one, giving you more time to think. There are books available giving excellent examples of tough interview questions and the responses you can make.

You will usually be invited to ask your own questions at the end of the interview so have a prepared list available and refer to it. Some of your questions may have been covered, but remember that an interview is a two-way process and is your opportunity to find out if you would like to work for the organisation. You should never be in a situation where you leave an interview with unanswered questions.

Finally, it is acceptable to ask how the selection process will work and when a decision will be made. Be prepared for the first interview to lead to a shortlist and a second round.