Interviews are an integral part of your job search; it is the ultimate opportunity to sell yourself on a face-to-face basis. They should not be viewed as a one-sided interrogation with relentless questioning; rather they should be experienced as an open forum for two-way information flow. Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. There is no excuse for a candidate possessing little or no information about the company with whom they are interviewing.
Make the time to get yourself fully prepared for this vital part of the job search process and remember:
- Dress conservatively in smart business attire, first impressions do last, so think about the image you wish to portray.
- Do your homework on the company, understand its products and services, its recent business growth, its plant or office locations, its future growth opportunities. This information is usually accessible from documents and publications such as the company's annual report, its corporate website, the library, business news publications (eg The Australian Financial Review), or business publications (eg Kompass).
- Assemble relevant personal documentation, such as resumes and qualification certificates. Also understand how your own annual remuneration is packaged. Rather than exaggerate your package explain why you feel you are worth more, as you may well be asked to prove your remuneration.
- Prepare examples of previous successes or achievements in your career, as interviewers will often ask for substantiation of specific claims.
- Arrive on time, having previously checked the address and exact location of the interview.
- Know the interviewer's correct title and the pronunciation of their name.
- Make and maintain eye contact, smile and have a firm handshake.
- Use small talk to establish rapport, but let the interviewer initiate and lead this, as being over familiar at this stage could set the wrong tone.
No two interviewers have the same style, let them take control of the flow but ensure that you display honesty, brevity, energy, enthusiasm and warmth.
- During the interview, you will be assessed on your strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this, specific personal characteristics will be probed, such as attitude, aptitude, stability, motivation and maturity.
- After the interviewer has asked about your previous experience, specific skills and competencies and delved into your strengths and weaknesses, it is then opportune to talk about the specific role.
- Ensure that you have a number of well thought out and relevant questions to ask about the role.
These may include:
- Is this a newly created position?
- Why has the position become available?
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- What are the company's plans for future development?
- Is there an induction or training programme for new recruits?
- What is the next step?
- Do not initiate discussions on remuneration at the first interview stage, however be open and honest if asked.
- When dealing with interview panels maintain eye contact with all equally, even if one individual is doing the majority of the talking.
- This is a good time to reiterate any strengths/experience that you feel would add to your candidature for the role.
- If you are interested in the position enquire about the next interview stage.
- If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, be prepared to accept it there and then, although this is more typical for contract and temporary roles. If you wish for some time to think it over, be tactful and courteous in asking for that time.
- Leave the interviewer with a good final impression, smile and give a firm handshake. Do not make the mistake of relaxing too early and undoing all your previous hard work
After the interview
- Immediately after the interview call the relevant consultant at Charterhouse to discuss how you feel it went, what you did well, what you wish you had done differently and how interested you are in the role. This is a chance for the consultant to give extra feedback to the company to further establish your suitability for the role.
- Write a follow up letter or e-mail, regardless of how you feel it went. It is an opportunity to thank the interviewer for their time, recap on salient points, add points not covered, express your level of interest and to leave a good final impression.
- Arrive on time, greet the interviewer by his or her title and surname and shake hands firmly.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair and look alert and interested at all times.
- It is very important that you demonstrate your interpersonal skills during the interview. Try to be charismatic without being overly friendly or smarmy.
- Be a good listener as well as a good talker.
- Look the interviewer in the eye and smile, let them feel that you are enjoying the process whilst taking it seriously.
- Follow the interviewer's leads and make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a concise, factual and sincere manner. Waffle will get you nowhere.
- Conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Remember you cannot reject a job that you are not offered.
- Try not to be too friendly or glib and do not answer questions with a simple ''yes'' or ''no''. Explain yourself whenever possible.
- Conversely do not ''over answer'' questions, make your comments relevant and to the point without waffling.
- Do not lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as close to the point as possible.
- Avoid making derogatory remarks about your present or former employers.
- Try not to use the term "we" when you are talking about your own achievements and avoid making very general statements that lack any real substance.
- Don't enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses etc. at the initial interview unless you are positive that the interviewer wants to hire you.
- Finally do not slouch, mumble, smoke or answer that mobile phone you forgot to turn off.