A brilliant CV and cover letter create employment opportunities but they will not secure you a job. The interview is your chance to back up in person everything that the employer has read about you.
This will probably be your first direct contact with the company and will give you an insight into its workings and the chance to meet with its personnel to see if it is a place where you would like to work, should you be given an offer.
There are several forms of interview with varying degrees of formality, but in essence they consist of a conversation, allowing the employer to get to know you and for you to see what they are like. Whilst interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, it should be remembered that the interviewer is only human and it is possible that he/she is nervous also. Enter with a confident air, be friendly and open and most importantly don’t forget to smile.
To get to this stage you would have succeeded in qualifying the preliminary screening processes. The selection process will have been narrowed down and the company has recognised you as an attractive prospect. Usually this interview will be carried out by the department supervisor, but sometimes with human resources personnel. Be prepared to talk about yourself in detail, why you want the job, and what you can contribute to the company.
In advance of the interview carry out research into what the company does and think of some questions you want to ask. Do not volunteer information that the interviewer doesn’t ask for.
Tips: You want them to want you on their team; therefore you have to impress them with your personality, your qualifications and your career ambitions. Dress conservatively to impress, arrive punctually and be chatty with plenty of eye contact. Establish a rapport with the interviewer.
An interview over lunch will be more casual than in an office; however, do not let down your guard. Make your life easier by not ordering messy food and order something that is in a similar price range to the others in attendance. The decision whether to smoke or drink alcohol should be based upon the location and what the interviewer is doing.
A brief meeting with the company used by them to weed out unqualified and uninterested candidates. Screening interviews occur if there is a huge number of job applicants; however, candidates are rarely asked to attend them. Interviewers are usually human resource professionals and the format is usually that of straight questions and answers.
Tips: Confirm to the interviewer what he/she has already read in your CV, do not deviate from the truth. Providing facts is more important than building a rapport.
Sometimes, if a candidate lives a great distance from the offices of the company, it may not be practical to attend preliminary interviews in person. In this case, an interview can be conducted on the telephone. Alternatively, some companies use telephone interviews as a screening process to eliminate the weaker candidates early on. A telephone interview is not to be treated as an easier option; it should be conducted in an equally professional manner as a standard interview and the same rules apply. The only difference is that your body language is no longer a factor.
Do not let the interviewer totally lead the conversation; if it is appropriate push for a face-to-face meeting, say something like “I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person so we can both better evaluate each other. I am free either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Which would be better for you?”
How to behave: Speak in a clear voice, answer the interviewer’s questions precisely and try to elaborate without talking too much; exude controlled professionalism.
Often group interviews are used to introduce the company and describe the job to an assembled audience of candidates. As this form of interview is not one-on-one, there is not so much pressure on an individual candidate; however, the aim is to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.
Tips: Ask questions and speak to company personnel afterwards to establish a brief rapport.
Companies use this method when hiring for advanced positions or if they are just feeling nasty. During committee interviews, candidates are questioned by several company personnel at once; this can be daunting but try to keep cool. Be sure to impress all of the interviewers; do not cater to just what one or two want to hear.
Tips: When an interviewer addresses you with a question, respond to the person who asked that question while being conscious of how the others will interpret what you are saying.
Interviewers may try to test your nerve to see how you handle yourself under pressure. The interview may start out in a relaxed fashion with standard questions being posed; then the interviewer may change tack to launch into a hostile assault, for example, “So you failed your A-levels, what makes you think you can handle the pace at our company?” You should be prepared for this and when it comes don’t take it personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes.
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BY: Sarah Berry
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