Interview Advice

A Successful Interview

The interview is one of the most important events in your experience because the thirty minutes to one hour spent with the interviewer may determine your future.

Interviewers are continually amazed at the number of candidates who come to job interviews without any apparent preparation or research and only the vaguest idea of what they are going to say. Some candidates create an impression of indifference by acting too casually while others work themselves into a state of nervous fright.

These marks of inexperience can be avoided by knowing a little of what is actually expected of you and by making a few simple preparations before the interview.

With the guidance provided by your consultant, we will show you the best way to get the position you want.

Interview Preparation

Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. It is important to:

  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the employer's full name and correct pronunciation and the employer's job title.
  • Do some research on the company. It will be helpful to know how old the company is, what its products or services are, where its offices are located, what its growth has been and what its growth potential is for the future. Every company will have a website or at minimum a presence on Linkedin and this is a good place to start your research.
  • Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a "two way street". The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications, experience and personality necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development that you seek.

Some probing questions you might ask:

  • What does the position involve? Obtain a detailed description.
  • Why is the position available?
  • What induction and training programmes do the company provide?
  • Are there advanced training programmes available for those who demonstrate outstanding ability?
  • What plans do the company have for growth over the next 5 years?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process?

Questions you could be asked

  • Why did you choose this particular vocation?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you feel that you will be successful in your field?
  • What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company?
  • Can you get a recommendation from previous employers?
  • What contributions to profits have you made in your present or former position to justify your salary level there?
  • Can you take instructions without feeling upset?
  • What is your major weakness?
  • Are you willing to relocate?
  • How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
  • What type of books do you read? How many books per year?
  • What job in our company do you want to work towards?
  • What jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
  • What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work?

Interview - do's and don'ts

You are being interviewed because the employer wants to hire someone - not to trip you up or embarrass you. The employer will be evaluating your strong and weak points - your qualifications, skills, intellectual qualities, attitude, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity.

DO plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. DON'T be more than 20 minutes early as the likelihood is your interviewer will not be ready and you don’t want them to feel rushed to come and greet you.

If the employer presents you with an application form to complete, DO fill it out neatly and fully. DON'T relax and rely on your application or CV to do the selling for you. Employers will want you to speak for yourself.

DO greet the employer by his / her name if you are sure of the pronunciation. If you aren't sure ask him / her to repeat their name. Create a positive first impression by giving the appearance of energy as you walk, smiling and shaking his / her hand firmly.

DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.

DON'T chew gum or eat.

DO look an employer in the eye while you talk to them.

DO follow the employer's leads, but try to get them to describe the position and duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background, skills and achievements to the position.

DON'T answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Explain wherever possible and give examples.

DO make sure that your good points come across to the employer in a factual, logical and sincere manner. Stress achievements e.g. - sales record, processes developed, savings achieved, systems installed and so on.

DON'T lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as "to the point" as possible.

DON'T ever make derogatory comments about your present or former employers or companies.

DON'T over-answer questions. The employer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this is a ticklish situation it is best to answer the question honestly, trying not to say any more than is necessary.

DON'T enquire about the salary, holidays, bonuses or other benefits at the initial interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you. If the employer asks what salary you want, indicate what you have earned but that you are more interested in the opportunity than in a specific amount at the present.

DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in a position where you can choose from a number of offers rather than only one.

Beware of Negative Factors

During the course of your interview, the employer will be evaluating your negative as well as positive factors. Listed below are negative factors which most often lead to the rejection of the candidate:

  • Poor personal appearance.
  • Overbearing - too aggressive - conceited - "Superiority complex" - "know it all".
  • Inability to express thought clearly - poor poise, diction or grammar.
  • Lack of planning for career - no purpose or goals.
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm - passive or indifferent.
  • Lack of confidence and poise - nervousness.
  • Over-emphasis on money - interested only in the best money offer.
  • Lack of tact - maturity - courtesy.
  • Condemnation of past employers.
  • Failure to look employer in the eye.
  • Limp, fishy handshake.
  • Lack of appreciation for the value of experience.
  • Failure to ask questions about the job.
  • Persistent attitude of "What can you do for me?"
  • Lack of preparation for the interview - failure to get information about the company resulting in an inability to ask intelligent questions.

Ending the Interview

If you want the position or a second interview say something like this:-"Mr. Employer, I am very impressed with what I have seen here today - your company, its products and the people I have met.

Or you could say something along the lines of "I have enjoyed talking with you. The job sounds excellent. [What are your thoughts about me? ] or [ Do I have the right sort of experience that you are looking for?]"

This gives you a chance to hear the interviewer's impressions and to respond to any negative thoughts or misunderstandings that may have arisen. 

Don't be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The employer will probably want to communicate with his office first or interview more candidates before making a decision.

If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected don't let your discouragement show. Once in a while an employer who is genuinely interested may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.

Thank the employer for his / her time and his / her consideration of you. If you have answered the two questions uppermost in the employer's mind, namely: 

  • Why are you interested in his / her company?
  • What can you offer?

Then you have done all that you can.

Lastly, but most importantly...

Call your consultant immediately after each interview and tell them what happened. They will want to talk with you before the employer calls them back. If you are interested in the position, your consultant will help you get it.