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Interviews

Preparing for Interviews

Interviews can be difficult, especially if you haven’t done one in a long time. Here are our tips for dealing with interviews:

  • Answering your phone. When writing your CV, make sure that you list a contact telephone number. This could be a mobile or landline number but it must be yours and you should try to answer it when it rings. You could miss out on potential opportunities if you don’t answer your phone.
  • Write down all interview details. If they are phoning you to ask you to come in for an interview, make sure you have a paper and pen with you so you can write down all the details about the interview. You want to know where and when the interview is taking place so that you are properly prepared.
  • Research the company beforehand. Find out as much about the company as possible. This is important because it will help you answer the questions. You can use newspapers, the company’s website, search engines and industry magazines to help you do this. The interviewer will be impressed with you if you can demonstrate a good amount of knowledge about their company; they will not be impressed if you don’t know anything about what they do.
  • Prepare what you are going to wear. This is important as although it shouldn’t be about what you look like, your appearance does make an impact and you want to demonstrate that you can dress smartly when appropriate and look presentable in front of clients/customers. Make sure your clothes are appropriate, clean and tidy-looking.
  • Look up where the interview is taking place. You can do this on Google Maps or on a satellite navigation system. You want to know how long it takes to get there, and make extra allowances for traffic or other problems with public transport. Sometimes companies may offer to pay travel expenses to interview in advance, you should keep all receipts if this is the case.
  • Find out who is interviewing you. If you are told who is interviewing you, sometimes it can really help you secure that job if you have a bit of background about the interview before going into the interview room. You are also much more likely to find a common talking point. You can find them on the company page, LinkedIn or try Googling them to see what comes up! Just be careful not to be too familiar at the interview as this can come across very awkwardly.
  • Practise what you are going to say. A lot of typical questions are asked at interview, which means you can think about the answers beforehand. You want to think about what your main strengths and weaknesses are, and examine what your key skills and main areas of experience and expertise are. You also want to be able to answer the question, “Why do you want to work for this company?”

At Interview: Dos and Don’ts

Do

  • Allow enough time to get to your interview; there is nothing worse than being late
  • Take a pen and paper with you. You never know, you may need to take notes
  • Make sure you look smart before you step into the interview room. Check out your teeth and hair in particular
  • Take breath mints with you. There is nothing worse than having bad breath
  • Do shake hands with the interviewer. Give a firm hand shake but don’t crush them!
  • Answer all their questions as best you can and provide as much detail as you can • Say if you do not understand
  • Ask questions that demonstrate your interest in the industry. You may ask them questions about the company culture, for example
  • Say thank you and good bye at the end of the interview. This shows that you are polite. It’s fine also to ask when you might expect to hear whether or not you have been successful
  • Write a thank you note. For some employers this is essential.

Don’t

  • Be late
  • Bad mouth your previous employer. This will just give your employer the impression you will do the same about them
  • Ask stupid questions. Asking questions like “what does your company do?” could lose you the interview as it shows you have not done your research before the interview
  • Talk about relationships, religion, political views or sport.

What next?

Once you have had your interview, in some cases you may be asked to come in for a second interview, give a presentation or take a test. The interviewer will normally make this clear before your first interview.

Once you have been to your interview all you can do is wait and hope for the best. Don’t be afraid to apply for other jobs in the meantime just in case you don’t get the result you want. It is always better to have more options, so you are not forced to take the only job that comes along.

Make sure you have your phone on you, or have an answering system set up, so you can hear if they ring to confirm that you have the job.

If you didn’t get the job, then don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world and there are always other jobs you can apply for. Make sure you are polite and ask for feedback and ask the company if they can keep your CV on file. You never know, they might have another job opening later on which you would be suitable for.

For support in finding employment please register for our Skills Support for Jobseekers programme, or use the contact form below to request more information.

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