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Interview Tips – How to prepare for an interview but not give yourself away

If you don’t want your current employer to get wind of the fact that you want to move on, you mustn’t give yourself away. Careful preparation is the key to a successful interview. Preparation avoids being taken by surprise and prevents giving away information that would have been better to keep to yourself. Sarah Berry has a few important interview preparation tips for you.


No amount of preparation will guarantee that you get the job but it will ensure that your performance is your best one. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to be focusing on:


1. Don’t give yourself away

It is vital that you don’t give yourself away while you are job-hunting. If your employer does suspect that you are planning a move, he/she may entice you to stay by offering you more money or more perks. Will more money or more perks defuse your basic feelings of discontent? Will you be looking to move again once you have got used to your higher salary? It is always best not to involve your current employer in your job hunt, so how do you avoid giving away clues?


  • Don’t come to work dressed better than normal. Otherwise people will be asking themselves, ‘Why does he/she suddenly look so good?’
  • Don’t take time from the company. Longer lunch hours, being absent for no reason and answering an increased number of personal phone calls in your working day all indicate that you don’t feel the same way about your current employer. You still have to give your company an honest day’s work if you are job-hunting.
  • Don’t change your behavioural pattern. Maintain your normal style of behaviour and communication. Going quiet or avoiding people will ‘tip off’ people that you are planning something.
  • Don’t have an interview in company time. Is it right to have a job interview while you are being paid by another company?
  • Don’t clear your desk. Avoid removing your personal belongings from your desk. It is the most obvious tell-tale sign that you are hoping to move on soon.


2. Be confident with how you look


First impressions count. Employers decide within five minutes of interviewing you whether they want to employ you, so the way you look is important to your job hunt. Fewer than 5% of personnel managers consider physical attractiveness very important but 75% of personnel managers will bypass a substantially overweight person in favour of a thinner one.


Since employers are influenced by the way candidates look, what should you wear?


  • Spend as much as you can on quality clothing.
  • Go easy on the jewellery. Female candidates should keep it simple and men should avoid jewellery that it not functional.
  • Buy the best shoes you can afford – your shoes say a lot about you.
  • Be aware of tailoring. No clothes will look really good on you unless they fit you properly.
  • The presence you are able to generate when you meet people is important but so too is that smile of yours.


3. Be polite


It is unbelievable but most job hunters don’t even bother to write to advise the employer that they will be attending the interview on the set date and time. Writing an acceptance letter is necessary and it is common courtesy. It demonstrates that you value the employer and that you want the interviewer to be as prepared for the interview as you will be. Write your acceptance letter because if you don’t it could be a black mark against you before you even get to the interview.


4. Fix a salary figure in your mind


It is all about confidence when it comes to talking about your salary. It will help your case if you have an exact salary figure in your mind of what you wish to earn. As a general rule, salary is determined by:


  • What the company is accustomed to paying.
  • What your current salary is.
  • Your level of experience and expertise.


If it doesn’t look as if you are going to be offered the salary figure you would like, you may have to negotiate with the employer. Successful negotiation is all about you achieving a win-win situation and not about one party being forced into submission or withdrawal. You will therefore need to consider your own needs but also to take into account the employer’s needs and constraints. Decide who holds the power. Is it you or the employer? The balance of power will determine how high or low you pitch your opening bid.


In addition, you need to decide what your walk-away position is. A walk-away position is the point at which the negotiation breaks down. This will be different for each individual and it will depend upon his/her personal finances. For example, if a person is threatened with redundancy or is already unemployment, the walk-away position may be different from that of someone who is already securely employed.


Put your case forward in a firm and friendly approach. Adopt a businesslike manner and choose your wording carefully.


5. Inspire Confidence in your abilities


Get in the habit of inspiring confidence in others. To do this you need to do be able to confirm three things in the interview, namely:


  • That you have the ability to do the job.
  • That you want the job.
  • And that you will fit in the organisation – its style, management and philosophies.
  • You need to address the employer’s concerns about yourself and then design your answers to assure him/her of your abilities. Although it may seem unnatural to answer the interviewer’s questions in this way, it is necessary to do this in order to address the employer’s concerns about you. Your answers need to convince the interviewer that you really are the best and right person for the job on offer.


If you wish to receive full and in-depth advice about how to prepare for interviews including negotiating your salary, responding to different questioning tactics and conveying the right attitude, you might wish to refer to Sarah Berry’s best-selling e-book, ‘Win the Job at the Interview‘.


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