Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. Most of the time we are so keen to get the job that we lose sight of the fact that the employer needs someone to fill the position just as badly as we want to fill it. In order to ace the interview, you need to prepare for it properly.
Do the Research: Properly preparing for the interview entails doing some research on the company that you will be interviewing at. Chances are the interviewer is going to look for some sort of sign that you have looked into the company. Remember that employers want employees that are interested in working for them as a career, not as a stopgap measure until something better comes along. Consider why you want to work at that particular company and why you want that particular position. Have a ready answer in case you are asked.
Practise: Do a practise run of the interview in your head a few times. Go through all the questions you think they would ask. Are there any gaps in your CV? What is the explanation? What prior experience do you have? If you have no direct experience, what qualifies you for the job? Work on the visual cues you give off – if possible, get a friend to help you. Do you have any nervous habits? What messages does your body language give off? Do you look like an open and frank person or do you look as though you are shy and reserved? The look you want to aim for during the interview is confident and relaxed.
Get the Facts: Make sure you have the correct time and date for the interview. Find out exactly where it is and drive past at least once to make sure you are where it is. If you are not sure, ask for directions before the day of the interview.
The Day of the Interview: Dress appropriately. It is seldom acceptable to pitch up at an interview in jeans and a t-shirt but it is not always necessary to wear a full suit and tie. If you are unsure, rather over-dress than underdress. Now is not the time to make fashion statements – unless you are applying at a fashion design house. Your look should err on the conservative side. Leave in plenty of time. You must be punctual for the interview so leave yourself enough time to get there, find parking and get to the offices without having to hurry.
During the Interview: Take a copy of your CV and qualifications with you, in case you are asked for them. It is unlikely that they will be required, but it does not hurt to have them with you. Take a clean pad of paper and a decent pen with you as well.
Switch your mobile phone off – no exceptions.
You may be asked questions. Feel free to write them down and ask for them to be repeated or explained if you are unsure of what they are asking. Take time to consider your answers – this is where writing down the questions becomes helpful. Do not discuss salary at this juncture unless the interviewer raises the issue. Be courteous and polite at all times.
Do not use this opportunity to have a go at your previous employer. When the interview has wrapped up, you may clarify when you could expect to hear from the company.
Thank the interviewer.
After the Interview: If a reasonable amount of time has passed, say about a week, and you have heard nothing, follow up with the employer and ask if there is an outcome yet. If not, ask when you would be able to check again. Check once more after this if necessary but do not waste effort after that – if they really wanted you for the job, they would get back to you.
Do not phone and ask for an answer the day after the interview. Do not make a nuisance of yourself in any way. Should your application be declined, accept is gracefully and thank the employer for considering you.