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Interview Tips

All of us at Headstart Recruitment have been through the interview process at some points in our careers. Due to our vast number of year's experience (as consultants and as candidates) we are hoping to pass on some words of wisdom for you to think about as you embark on your interview.

Remember you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression - and first impressions last! It is said that some interviewers make up their mind about you in the first three minutes.

You are probably aware that the job market is a very competitive place at the moment; interviews can be few and far between and can be quite daunting. Don't worry it's natural to be nervous, just remember that the other candidates attending the interview feel the same way. With this in mind, here are a few handy hints on how to be prepared and how to make a good impression on your potential new employer.

Keep in your mind at all times that you have been selected for interview because you possess the skills required for the role - so you are off to a good start already.

The Preparation:

This is absolutely essential and is a key factor in successfully securing a job. You may have been to interviews in the past, however you should treat each one separately - rehearse your questions and answers to apply to THIS interview. It is essential to take note of the following:

  1. Try to find out as much as possible about the company. This gives you an excellent basis for questions. You can obtain such information in financial papers (The Bankers Almanac, Annual Reports, Dun & Bradstreet ref. Book Kompass (UK) and the best place for sourcing information is of course the companies own website!! It's also worth looking at competitors websites, seeing if they support the local community with sponsorship and always look at recent press releases for up to date information and awards they may have won.
  2. Prepare questions to ask in the interview - this is always a very good thing to prepare for. It shows that you are interested in them as a company and can really impress the interviewer if you can ask relevant questions e.g.
    a) Anticipated training programmes.
    b) Company/Departmental growth plans.
    c) What type of person would best fit the role?
    d) Why has the vacancy arisen?
    e) Is the company expanding?
    f) Is there room for promotion/progression?
    g) Who else would I be working for/with?
    h) How many people are in the department?
    i) What will my typical day entail?
    j) Is there the opportunity to use my initiative?
  3. It also helps to consider your answers to questions that are likely to be asked?
    a) Why should I hire you?
    b) What are your expectations and career objectives?
    c) Describe your education background
    d) Describe your major responsibility in your current/last jobs.
    e) Why do you want to leave your current employer?
    f) Describe your most significant accomplishments
    g) Describe your major strengths and weaknesses for this position?
    h) What key factors attract you to this position?
    i) What do you see yourself doing in five years time?
    j) What sort of people do you like working with?
  4. Dress up in smart and professional business clothes to show you take the interview seriously, nothing should be in excess.

The Interview:

Remember the interview is a two way process. The interviewer wants to hire the best person for the job and they will be assessing your suitability for the role. They are not there to try to trip you up or embarrass you. Similarly, your own objective should be to decide whether it is a place you want to work in.

Some do's and don'ts concerning the interview.

  1. Do plan to arrive a few minutes early - turn your phone off!
  2. Do greet the interviewer by their surname - e.g. "Mr Jones".
  3. Don't be anyone but yourself, however use a firm handshake and frequent eye contact. Be confident!
  4. Do wait until you are offered a seat before sitting.
  5. Do follow the interviewer's leads but try to get him/her to describe the job and duties at an early stage of the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
  6. Do answer questions as factually, completely and to the point as possible. Keep in mind that you alone can "sell" yourself, so don't answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Explain wherever possible and tell them the things about yourself which relate to the position.
  7. Do be honest but not blunt. It is often negative information that is unnecessary e.g. don't make derogatory remarks about your past or present employers. You may be feeling bored, dissatisfied and unappreciated in your job but it is more impressive to put this in a positive way e.g. I am happy in my present job but I have covered all that is possible within my division for the foreseeable future. Or, promotion is not forthcoming as staff, who have been there longer are next in line for promotion before myself.
  8. Don't enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses, etc in the initial interview as this will give the impression that you are only interested in the job for money and not for the work involved. If you are asked the salary you seek, quote the one the vacancy is advertised at.

Closing the Interview:

  1. If you are interested in the position let it be known
  2. Don't be disappointed if no definite offer is made as the interviewer will probably wish to discuss your background with others in the company.
  3. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well don't let disappointment show as sometimes an interviewer may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
  4. Express thanks for the interviewer's time and consideration and let them know that you are looking forward to hearing from them shortly.

For more detailed interview tips and sample interview questions, just email us and we will forward them to you

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