Practice Tests

Interviews

Many company interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants that apply for jobs and come to interviews, without having done any preparation.


Interviews and you

As you probably know, numerical and verbal aptitude / reasoning tests are becoming more common all the time and these kinds of standardized tests allow employers to assess candidates already at an early stage of the recruitment process. But then there is also the interview. Many company interviewers are continually amazed at the number of applicants that apply for jobs and come to interviews, without having done any preparation. Do you want to be one of these people or do you want to have an edge over the other applicants? The good thing from the applicant’s point of view is that it really is possible to prepare yourself for the whole recruitment process.

You are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire someone and not because they want to trip you or embarrass you. Through the interaction which will take place during the interview, the interviewers will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities and they will probably probe deeply to determine your attitudes, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity.

Interviews are the make or break of the job search. No matter how good your career record is to date, the job interview remains one of the most important steps towards achieving your career goals. Preparation for the job interview is therefore crucial.

Before you begin the interview process you need to:

  • Know your CV and ideal next career move.
  • Know your potential employer.
  • Know the interview styles that are currently in use.

You may find it useful to be videotaped during a practice interview so that you can see yourself as an interviewer will. This may be particularly useful if it has been many years since you have had a formal job interview. You can also be interviewed by a friend who can then give you feedback. This can be very useful and is often understated.

As well as the knowledge and preparation, you need to perform well in interviews; there are some general dos and don’ts that you should remember.

Some things to remember at the interview

DO plan to arrive on time and preferably 15 minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never acceptable.

If presented with an application, DO fill it out neatly and completely. If you have a personal resume, be sure the person you release it to is the person who will actually do the hiring.

DO greet the interviewer by their surname.

DO shake hands 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 look like you fear the whole situation even though you actually might. A smile can take you far.

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

DO follow the interviewer’s leads and try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.

DON’T answer questions with a simple yes or no. Explain whenever possible. Use lots of examples and describe what happened in detail. THIS IS IMPORTANT.

DO make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual and a sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to the interviewer. Make them realize the need for you in their organization. You are what is missing!

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

DON’T ever talk about your past employer in a negative tone. Instead underline what you learnt from that work experience. Even though you might hate that now.

DON’T over answer questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics, since this can be ticklish, it is best to answer the questions honestly, trying not to say more than is necessary.

DON’T ask or talk about salary, bonuses, holidays etc at the initial interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first. However you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.

What to do in the end at the interview

If you are interested in the position, ask for it. Ask for the next interview if the situation demands for it. Make sure what the next stage always is, and if you are unsure then ask this in the end. Even if you are sure, you can still ask since this gives a proactive image of you.

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. Interviewers do every now and then test your reaction, even though they might already be genuinely interested in you.

Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration for you. Wish them a nice day/evening/weekend. Smile and leave the room confident.

Know yourself and your CV / Resume

Knowing you CV and ideal next career move requires you to be prepared and give evidence. In preparation for an interview, knowledge of your CV is the most important thing. It is your opportunity to set down situations where you have demonstrated how you added value to an organisation. If you have a firm grasp of your ideal next job, you will be ready for ANY interview.

The person interviewing generally knows little about you except for what is in your CV. They will generally use your CV as a prompt to find out more about your career and your abilities. The CV is like the skeleton. You then have to dress it up by giving examples and explaining situations that happened in the past.

You should be sufficiently prepared so you are able to tell a story about every point you make on your CV.

Here we recommend you research the organisation you are being interviewed by, and not just for knowledge. Use the information you discover to develop questions to ask those interviewing you. Look for trends, study the financials and ask questions about strategy and direction.

You can research organisations by reading the business press, reading their annual reports and prospectuses, talking with your networks, and the Internet. It does pay off.

Preparation is everything

After coming through all the hurdles of the selection process like the aptitude tests, which you can practice for by Signing Up for reasoning tests here for only £4.99, you will eventually arrive at an interview. This is of course a major obstacle for many job applicants. Although they may have the qualifications, experience and a proven track record, they may lose out to a candidate who interviews better.

Interviewing better comes down to the candidate being well prepared and confident. A candidate who can answer questions in a way which is acceptable to the interviewer, someone who knows something about their potential employers business and the post they hope to fill. These are really the basic components of any candidate who interviews well. There are undoubtedly other aspects employers may look for in relation to specific posts like having their own ideas, being articulate, thinking on their feet, aspects which will be related to the job and the company’s preference in employees.

The employer will also be looking to fill a post, which has a particular job specification – in other words personal aspects besides the experience, and qualifications that can be put down on paper. The interviewer will set out to ascertain that the candidate has these personal qualities, skills and abilities the company requires.

These two essential ingredients are interlinked.

Good preparation instils confidence.

So the basic approach to an interview is to be prepared. This means two things: preparing yourself practically for the interview and gathering knowledge and information you can draw on during the interview.

Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and name of the interviewee where appropriate.

Check out how you will get to the location and when you need to set off to be there in good time. You can do a dummy run if necessary.

Have what you are going to wear ready in advance.

Do not go to the interview laden down with baggage – psychological as well as physical. Take the bare minimum of belongings necessary. Concentrate on the interview at the interview and nothing else.

If you are asked to bring certificates, references etc, get them ready before the day. You can also take copies already. This makes you look prepared. Take the interview letter with you. On arrival ensure the receptionist knows you are there, visit the toilets to tidy up etc.

If you are well organised and have planned for the day your confidence will increase.

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