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Interview Techniques

Interviews are a necessary evil when it comes to job hunting. No matter how well-qualified you are for a job, your personality and personal presentation will still count when your prospective employer sizes you up. Whatever your confidence levels, you can develop and work on the skills required to make the interview process more bearable.

Get organised - be prepared

Know who it is you are meeting, where the building is and how to get there. Bring your contact details, spare CV, pen and notepad. Have information at the ready to impress the interviewer with your research. Do your homework - find out about the company, read trade magazines, visit competitors' websites, etc. Study the job specification, match it to your CV so you can provide evidence that you meet the criteria.

Your first impression

Wear a smart but comfortable suit or outfit. Remember that you are making an impression as soon as you walk through the front door. Be courteous to everyone, from the Receptionist to the Managing Director - you never know who might influence the final selection of candidates, or even the job winner. Look at all interviewers (if a panel) when greeting them, smile and carefully remember their names so you can address them throughout the interview. If the sun is in your eyes or the chair is wobbly, etc., say something rather than squirm and fail to concentrate.

Questions to you

Relax - imagine you're having a conversation with a friend. Listen - people get so caught up in their feelings they forget to listen to the questions; slowing the pace will help you hear the questions and answer them correctly. Before you respond to more difficult questions, think about your answers and how you want to express them - this will help you speak more confidently. You could practise talking slowly and evenly before you go - record your answers and listen to your pace and tone. Body language demonstrates how comfortable you are with your subject matter - if you are enthusiastic about what you are saying, smile and let your hands do the talking (but don't overdo it). If you said something you did not mean and are worried it could damage your chances, simply rectify this by restating what you actually meant - don't hold back, it could be your only chance to get that point across. Be factual and honest about your strengths and weaknesses - show that you recognise your weaknesses and that you are striving to improve them. If you get stuck on a question, do not dwell on it for too long but politely ask if you can come back to it later.

Questions to the interviewer

What are the other people in the practice like?
How would their roles impact on mine?
What would my core responsibilities be? 
What training or induction is given? 
How much interaction would I have with other branches, or with clients and suppliers?
What scope is there for taking on extra work, or being involved in any other aspects of the company?
What plans do you have for expansion - how would these impact on my role?
Where are the opportunities to progress within the company?

Conclusion

There may be an explanation of how the process will continue - if not, ask. Try to find out when you should hear back - but do not be pushy as some recruiters will not want to commit themselves to timescales until they have had time to consider all candidates. Make sure the appropriate people know where you can be reached. Finally, thank your interviewer for his or her time and shake hands. Remember to say a personal goodbye to each person you talked to. Do not forget to acknowledge the receptionist as you leave, particularly if you have been looked after while waiting.

Post-interview action

Call your recruitment consultant and let him or her know how it went. Your consultant is employed by the company to liaise with you, and can also handle any queries or objections raised, or persuade the employer to wait while you supply more information. Some interviewers may give you their direct line in case you have any further queries - take advantage of this if necessary but do not overdo it. Allow a reasonable amount of time - a week is ideal. Write a letter confirming your interest and thanking the company for its consideration. A timely but subtle reminder like this could pay dividends.