If you're invited to attend an interview for a job then you have managed to pass the first stage of finding a job and impressed your prospective employers with a CV or application letter. The next step is to impress them in person and the secret to that is careful preparation.
Interviews are an important part of the job hunting process so it's essential to spend time preparing for them. Before an interview find out everything you can about the company, read over your application and think about all the questions they might ask you.
So what do do we need to do..... lets start with preparation!
Research the company
When you are invited to an interview the first thing you should do is spend some time researching your potential employer. This will give you the confidence to answer any questions on what the company does and have the background knowledge to ask any questions of the employer. Take a handful of questions with you it will show you have done research and you are serious about the opportunity. The interview is also about you deciding whether you want to work for the company!
Read up about your potential future employer on their website or contact the company directly to ask for an information pack. Find out the following things about the employer: what they do, make or sell; who are their target customers, clients or audience; how is the company structured; what has happened to the company recently (have they done any big deals, opened any new offices, etc) what is the job likely to involve and what skills you have that are matched to the job.
Find out about the interview
Find out what the interview will involve to make sure you are ready. You should think about who will be interviewing you. If it is the person who would be your manager if you got the job, the interview may be more detailed. If it is the personnel manager, the interview may be less detailed but could still be as testing.
Find out how many people will be interviewing you and their positions in the company. This will help you prepare for the type of questions they may ask. You should also try and find out how long the interview will last, which will give you an idea of how detailed the interview will be. You should also know whether you will have to take a test or make a presentation.
If the information is not included in the letter inviting you to interview, then a polite email to the HR office should get you this information.
Plan your journey
Consider travelling to the company the day before the interview to check how long the journey will take. Nothing gives a worse impression than lateness it makes you look disorganised! If necessary, ask the employer for directions, bus routes or details of where you can park your car. You should plan another way of getting there in case something unexpected happens (such as an accident blocking the road, or if your train is cancelled). If you have a disability, let the employer know so they can make any special arrangements.
Dress to impress
Deciding what to wear for the interview will depend on what sort of work you will be doing. Decide what to wear and get your clothes ready the day before. You don't have to buy a new outfit. Aim for a neat, clean and tidy appearance, if you look good it will help you feel good. Remember, it's far easier to wear a suit and make it less formal, than it is to wear jeans and trainers and try and look smarter. Look smart make a good first impression people often decide about someone in the first few seconds so look good smile, give a firm handshake and say thank you for taking the time to see me!
Bring the information you'll need
Remember to take a copy of your CV or application form to refer to and prepare notes or cue cards to help if you might need a prompt during the interview. Don't forget to bring any items the employer has asked from you such as references, certificates or your driving licence.
It's essential to re-read the job advert to refresh your memory and to make sure you haven't missed anything. You should also re-read your CV and application form; this is the information that got you a foot in the door so refresh yourself on what you wrote.
Practice answering questions you might be asked
DirectGov has a list of popular questions that you might be asked at interview along with some suggested answers. Even preparing for ten of these and practicing with a friend will help you to get in the frame of mind you'll need to answer questions well.
[b]What to do on the day[/b]
On the day of the interview, dress smartly and leave home early to make sure you arrive on time. Be courteous and polite to all employees of the company and above all, be positive about yourself and your abilities.
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready and make sure you've got all the relevant paperwork with you. If you are delayed, contact the employer as soon as possible to explain, apologise and arrange another appointment. You should aim to arrive about ten minutes before the interview time. When you arrive give your name to the receptionist or whoever is there to greet you.
Try to relax and keep calm, chat to the receptionist, or whoever greets you before going into the interview to help you stay calm. Remember that the interviewer can be just as nervous as you.
[b]During The Interview[/b]
Show that you have made the effort to research the company and remember what impressed you enough to apply for the position in the first place. During the interview, try to demonstrate that you would be a motivated and hard-working employee. When answering questions, stay positive and polite.
It is natural to be nervous and you may have a fast heartbeat, sweaty hands or butterflies in your stomach. These are your bodies natural way of meeting a challenge, and in small doses it can help you. If you are nervous your voice may give you away so take deep, slow breathing before you get to the interview. This will slow down your heart rate and help you avoid taking quick shallow breaths.
Listen and ask questions
Take an interest in what your interviewer says about the company. Ask any questions about the company or what your job would entail. Before answering any questions just take a second to be sure you understand what is being asked and think about your reply.
At the end of the interview I would always recommend - thanking them for their time and asking if there is anything else that they would need to know to help them make a decision, do follow that with something like - I would really enjoy working within your organisation and hope to hear from you soon.