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The Art of Being Interviewed

by Clare Donovan at Helix Recruitment

Job offers can be won or lost on your preparation for interview. Before any interview takes place, the company takes time to draw up person specifications plus details on salaries, training and induction. You must match this preparation.

Never expect to just turn up and perform well, no matter how strong and confident a candidate you might be. Regard the interview as the first work you do for your new employer; the quality of this performance tells your potential for the future.

This article gives some hints about the "Art of Being Interviewed".

You have been selected for interview so you've already passed the first hurdle. Having seen your CV it has been decided you have potential!

The interviewer will normally use your CV as a basis for the interview so you need to be familiar with its contents and prepare to maximise your strengths and handle questions about your weaker points.

Planning and good preparation are key to your success. This, combined with research into the company and its products, will help build your confidence and enhance your performance.

Preparation

When an interview is arranged by HELIX you will be given the date, time and location of your interview plus the name and position of the person you are seeing. You will have details of the position and company; wherever possible you will get advice on the format of the interview.

Research all products, competitors and customers. Use the Internet and if possible talk to customers. Use this knowledge at relevant points in the interview.

Be well versed on the role for which you are being interviewed. Try to talk to someone already doing a similar job. Your research will be a good basis for questions for you to ask at the end of the interview.

Take with you:

Your CV and any other information about yourself which may help your cause.

Also take......

• Company and product information.

• Names of people you will meet,

• Map and details of how to get there.

• Pen and notebook.

What sort of Questions?

Be well prepared to answer a wide range of questions about you and your aspirations.

Some of the most common ones are:

• Why do you want to work for our company?

• What do you know about the work you will be doing?

• How do you think you will spend your day?

• Why do you want this position?

• What personal qualities would make you good at the job?

• Describe yourself in FIVE words?

• What are your strengths and weaknesses?

• What do you think you can bring to this company - why should we employ you?

• What motivates you?

These questions are designed to assess your ability to do the job, communication skills, motivations and personality. Whatever you do, NEVER quote your answers as if learned by heart - it always shows through!

However well prepared you are there's bound to be something which takes you by surprise. DON'T PANIC. There's a simple strategy for dealing with surprise questions.

• Sit back and take a deep breath.

• Make sure you understand the question, if not, don't be afraid to ask for clarification.

• Acknowledge the question. "I've never been asked that before but..." is a good start.

• Think logically, an educated guess is OK but if you don't know, admit it.

Psychometric Profiles

There are no right or wrong answers to these, they are tools used to give a measure of your personal traits and individual abilities.

When completing a profile don't think too deeply about your answer but do think of yourself in the job that you are applying for.

The Interview

Success or failure is often determined in the first few minutes of an interview. The moment you arrive at the company you should be in 'interview mode' and stay that way until you leave the premises. Many people fail their interview by their behaviour before and after 'the interview' proper. The interview is never over until you are out of sight and earshot of all company personnel.

First Impressions Count

How you look and behave has an enormous influence on your success. The way you dress is a very important part of this; you will be a representative of the company and your appearance reflects the company's image. Here are some basic rules to follow:

• Dress in familiar clothes; not the time to don't experiment with a new style.

• Wear a suit or, for ladies a dress and jacket.

• ALWAYS wear a jacket, even if it's hot. You can take it off at an appropriate moment.

• Darker colours create a business-like image.

• Check you hair style; don't over use gel. Gents; trim beards and sideburns.

• Keep shoes plain; ensure they are polished.

• Wear less, rather than more jewellery. Ensure clean hands and nails.

• Avoid: fashion statements, loud colours, pale socks, Cartoon ties etc.

• Switch off your mobile phone.

One other important thing to remember; what you eat the night before can stay with you through the following day. Take care with garlic, curries etc.! Definitely no alcohol!

Handshake should be firm and positive accompanied by a confident smile. Damp and limp just won't do.

Body language

Make sure you send out the right signals. Reinforce your points with good body language. Even if you start the interview with some doubts about the role, never let this show - you may change your mind and really want the job.

Smile - preferably with your eyes as well as your mouth! Avoid cheesy grins.

Lean forward slightly when listening and when replying to a question.

Avoid touching your face, its distracting and can make you hard to hear; experts on body language say that touching your face is often a sign someone is lying.

Maintain eye contact - but don't stare; and when you break contact look up or to the side, not down at the floor.

Don't cross your arms it looks closed and defensive. Try not to cross your legs.

Don't fidget as this implies nervousness even when you're not.

Sit back in your chair as far as possible without slouching.

All these deliver the positive message that you need to achieve.

Time Keeping

On the day you"ll be under enough pressure without being late.

• Leave plenty of time to get to the appointment

• Make sure you know where you are going - don't just rely on your SatNav.

• If you're delayed, phone the company, well before your appointment time.

• DON'T PANIC!

• If your interview has been arranged via an Agency, call them - they can save the day if you don"t have a contact number with you.

Know Your Product

Regardless of the type of job you are going for there is always an element of sales at an interview, and you are the product! Analyse your strengths and weaknesses so you can present yourself in the best light.

Listen

Never try to 'lead' the interview. Follow the agenda of the interviewer and listen carefully to everything that is said. What you consider important on your CV, may not be of interest to them - let them lead the way.

Be Positive

Negatives on your CV such as an abandoned course or a quick job move, should be covered ONLY if raised by the interviewer. Briefly explain what happened then emphasise what you gained from the experience such as new skills or knowledge about yourself. Present these as positives, then move on. Never dwell on negatives: FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE.

Questions

Interviewers will often ask if you have any questions. It is always wise to have them written down as this shows that you have prepared for the interview and means you will not forget what you wanted to ask. The interviewer will be taking notes during the interview, so ask if you too can take notes if it will help you with possible questions later. In the event that the interviewer has covered all the points you wanted to raise, point out that you had prepared questions but they have all been answered. The "Do you have any questions" section is also the ideal way to move into the close......

Close the interview

Even experienced candidates can fail at this final hurdle. Comments from companies in the past have included "We really liked your candidate but they didn't seem to want the job!". At the end of your interview

• ask how you've done and if there are any reservations that you can address.

Once all questions have been answered

• ask what the next step will be and when.

• ask if there is any reason why you won't be taken forward to the next stage.

This demonstrates your ability to 'close' (vital if you are applying for a sales position), and gives you a second chance to allay any doubts. It also enables you to gauge your success. You will probably get a non-committal answer, but you should always ask these questions!

AND FINALLY.........

Be yourself and be honest. Try to enjoy the experience and get to know the people you will be working with!

BEST OF LUCK

http://www.helixrecruitment.co.uk