Interview tips from www.Monster.co.uk
Top 5 job interview tips
If you’re counting down the days till your next job interview, these helpful hints will help you get in the right mood so you can leave a lasting impression on the interviewers:
1. Do your research
Fail to plan, and you plan to fail. You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework on things like their last year’s profits and latest product launches. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.
2. Practice your answers
Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to some of the most common questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job.
3. Look the part
Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you utter a single word. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.
4. Stay calm
Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and the may be nervous too!
5. Ask questions
You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.
Most Common Questions
What are the most common interview questions?
Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. Here’s a list of the most common questions and a guide to the kind of answers your interviewer wants to hear:
1. Tell me about yourself
This is usually the opening question and, as first impressions are key, one of the most important. Keep your answer to under five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career. You can follow the same structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Don’t go into too much detail – your interviewer will probably take notes and ask for you to expand on any areas where they’d like more information. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your studies you most enjoyed and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.
2. What are your strengths?
Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer language, or intangible skills such as good man-management. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.
3. What are your weaknesses?
The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress. For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no accounts say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.
4. Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description. “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build long-term customer relationships” is a good opening sentence, which can then lead onto a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career. State your biggest achievement and the benefit it made to the business, then finish with “Given the opportunity, I could bring this success to your company.”
5. What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time?
It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals. Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.
6. Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. If you’ve prepared for the interview properly, you should have a good inside knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. Use this information to describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them. Never utter the phrase “I just need a job.”
7. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to the work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have in a team. For example, “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can always rely on me, and he likes my sense of humour.”
8. What salary are you seeking?
You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills. Try not to give any specific numbers in the heat of the moment – it could put you in a poor position when negotiating later on. Your interviewer will understand if you don’t want to discuss this until you are offered the job. If they have provided a guideline salary with the job description, you could mention this and say it’s around the same area you’re looking for.
9. If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
Interviewers use this type of psychological question to see if you can think quickly. If you answer ‘a bunny’, you will make a soft, passive impression. If you answer ‘a lion’, you will be seen as aggressive. What type of personality will it take to get the job done?
You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job, and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.
What should I wear to my job interview?
Part of preparing for a job interview is making sure you are going to come across as a good addition to their company. Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word.
Direct approaches (specifically phoning to check the dress code) or indirect approaches (standing outside the office a few days before your interview to check the people coming and going) are both valid ways of determining the general rules.
Aim to dress one level up from what you would expect to be wearing if you got the job. It hints at your desire to progress and succeed within their company. If in doubt, always go for a classic plain business suit. Both male and female versions come in all shapes and sizes and can be picked up relatively cheaply. Combined with a clean shirt and preferably a tie, you’re unlikely to feel out of place.
Essentially, if you feel comfortably, you’ll act comfortably which is vital in a pressure interview situation.
Dressing the part is never something that will get you the job, regardless of how clean your shirt or shiny your shoes. However, it could put the employer off if you fail to follow some basic rules:
- Not too casual– If you get the vibe that casual is OK then stay on the smart side of casual. Ripped jeans, threadbare t-shirts and scruffy trainers should all be left at home. A smart pair of jeans and an open necked shirt is the bare minimum that is expected.
- No headwear– Under no circumstances wear a cap, beanie or hoodie to an interview – you’ll look like you’ve got something to hide. There are obvious religious and medical exceptions to this rule.
- Get the right fit– If you’ve had to borrow an ill-fitting suit for an interview, or just generally like to wear your clothes a little too loose or tight, try and find something a little more regular.
- No flashing– Although it may work in certain industries, cleavage and midriffs should be covered up for job interviews. You should be relying on your other assets to secure you the role.
- Wacky ties– As hilarious as you think they are, your interviewer is unlikely to see you as a new fun addition to the team, instead seeing someone who’s not serious about the job.
- Don’t accessorise too much– remember you want your interviewer to be concentrating on what you’re saying, not the obscure purple broach you’re wearing.
- Subtle make up– You could use make-up to emphasise your eyes and mouth, but should steer clear of anything too outrageous.
- Strong odours– Too much perfume or too little deodorant can both be big turn offs, as can cigarette smells so make sure you smell nice, but neutral.
- Facial hair– The old phrase “Never trust anyone with a beard” is less adhered to nowadays so feel free to go in with your usual fur. However, do make sure it’s well trimmed and clean.
- Piercings and tattoos– Another feature that is increasingly common, and one unlikely to deter an employer. If you can’t remove them, keep any studs small and cover any offensive or obscene body art.
If you’ve had to come straight from work to go to the interview or need to return there afterwards, it’s possible that you will be in the workplace wearing completely different clothes than on a normal day.
If you want to avoid arousing suspicion see if you can get an outfit that’s easily adaptable for both purposes, or alternatively ask a friend who works nearby if you can leave your interview outfit at their office.
What should I take to my job interview?
Thorough preparation for a job interview is the key to maximising your chances of being successful. Sometimes this can mean taking examples of your work, or evidence of your past successes with you.
Essential items for a job interview
Although you won’t have been specifically asked for them, there are a few things you should have on you on your way to the meeting:
– Your invite – which should also have on it the directions to where you’re going and the names of the people you will be meeting.
– The job description – in most cases you will have received a job description some time before the interview. Make sure you take along a copy of that as it will provide a good reference point to glance at should you lose your train of thought.
– Your CV – the copy you sent may have mislaid, so if you take a few along you can give one to each interviewer rather than asking them to share. You may also be asked to fill out an additional application form on the premises where your interview is taking place. Having your own CV with you will help you remember details that you need to complete the form.
– A bottle of water – you will probably be offered a drink, but it’s a good idea to have a drink on you just in case you start to dry up.
– A notepad – before you go you should note down a list of questions for your interviewer, and you will also have a place to job down any thoughts as your discussion progresses.
If you work in a creative industry, such as advertising, architecture or design, it should be second nature to take examples of your work to show what you can do and what you have done.
The way you present your portfolio is just as important as the way you present yourself. Make sure it’s in a smart folder and only pick out a few pieces that show you in your best light. There’s no point trying to show your entire back catalogue of work so if you would like to show off more, host it online and let your interviewer have a link.
Even outside these sectors, you may be asked to bring in certain items by your interviewer such as your passport, working visa, or driving licence. If you want to prove your worth but don’t have any specific examples of your work to show off, you may also want to take along:
– Letters of commendation
– Client testimonials
– Company awards
– Target achievement results
– Internal or external press clippings
– Customer satisfaction surveys
If you have reference letters, bring along copies to discuss during the interview – or to leave behind.
If you don’t have direct reference letters, take a list of three or four professional contacts who have agreed to provide references if needed.
Don’t take too much
The first interview is often not the place to take along a sack full of items showing why you’re the perfect candidate and this may distract them from the real selling point – you.
Bring the bare minimum with you so you can converse without having to rustle through a bag. It will actually work to your advantage if you leave things at home as it will give you an excuse to get in touch after the interview to send examples of your work, and to thank them for the interview.
What questions should I ask my interviewer?
Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions after they’ve finished grilling you, so be prepared to make the most of it. Try to concentrate on issues that are important to you and combine an interest in the company with an interest in the job.
With a wide variety of interview styles and structures, there’s every possibility that everything you want or need to know about the job will have been covered over the course of the interview. There is always more information available though and if you don’t have at least five questions prepared, you’ll come across as passive rather than curious and interested.
Regarding role specific questions, look through the job description to see if there are any areas that you would like more information about. Here are some good examples of the questions you could ask about the role:
- Why has the position become available?
- What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
- How does the company expect these objectives to be met?
- What are the measures used to judge how successful I am in the role?
- What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives?
- What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives?
- What can I expect from you in terms of development and support?
- What aspirations do you have for me at the company?
- Where will the job fit into the team structure?
Good interview preparation should have given you an insight into what it’s like to work for a company, but it’s good to get answers straight from the horse’s mouth in case you’ve misinterpreted anything. These questions are a good place to start:
What’s the best thing about working at your company?
- What is the main thing the organisation expects from its employees?
- How do you build good relationships within teams?
- What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company?
- Are there any plans for expansion?
- How would you describe the company culture and management style?
To show your interest and knowledge of the industry the company operates in, it’s also a good idea to have a question ready regarding a current event or issue in the market. For example, “How do you think the recent merger between your two main competitors will affect the future of the industry?”
How well your interviewer reacts and answers your questions gives you a great insight into the company. The interview isn’t just for them to see if you’re the right fit for the organisation – if you’re confident about your skills and ability to do the job, you should also be making sure they’re the right fit for you.
Generally, it’s not a good idea to ask about pay or benefits, as this can make you seem more interested in what the organisation can do for you, rather than what you can do for them.