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Preparing for an interview

Preparation is vital if your interview is to go well. You want to be ready for whatever you may encounter, and be able to answer any questions you are asked. With the correct preparation you will be calmer and feel in control. If you have prepared sufficiently, then the interview will be a far more relaxed, less stressful experience for both you AND the interviewer. Remember the saying: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Research

It is important to carefully research the job and the organisation before attending the interview.

A large proportion of the questions you will be asked at the interview will be around your knowledge of the job and how you think you can meet the requirements. You will not be able to answer these questions correctly unless you have done your research and have a clear understanding of the role you are being interviewed for. Carefully read the Job Description, Person Specification and any other related material that the company sends to you.

The second area of research you need to carry out is on the company/ organisation itself. Look on the internet at their webpages. What products/services do they offer? What is their share of the market? Who are their main rivals? If your prospective employer has premises that are open to the public, visit them in advance of the interview to get a feel for their 'corporate identity'.

This research can give you the edge on other candidates. Around 80% of candidates will not carry out any research prior to interview. Being aware of the organisation and the job role will enable you to feel much more confident in the interview.

Also ensure that you know what format the interview will take. Some interviews incorporate a presentation. If this is the case, what equipment will be available to you? Many employers offer tours of the organisation prior to the interview. Take advantage of this, but remember that you are being assessed from the moment you arrive at the building, even if you are not in a formal interview situation.

Mental preparation

Most people will feel nervous about attending a job interview, this is entirely natural. Nerves can sharpen your mind, but try not to let them get out of hand. Keep calm and relaxed and try to think positively. You have prepared well and should be able to cope with anything they throw at you.

It is worth bearing in mind that you always feel more nervous than you look. Try and display an air of confidence. Have faith in your own strengths and abilities and be enthusiastic.

Consider the fact that interviewing and recruiting can be expensive and time consuming. The employer would not waste time interviewing you if he or she didn't feel that you had potential and the ability to do the job. Remember this when you attend the interview, all the candidates will be nervous and you stand as much chance as any of them!

How to present yourself

Research as shown that many interviewers have made up their mind about the candidate within the first 30 seconds of the interview. Use this fact to your advantage by presenting yourself to the best of your ability.

Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake. It is difficult to give specific advice on what to wear, but dress smartly and simply. Limit the amount of jewellery you wear and pay attention to detail, such as clean shoes and clean nails.

Practice

Practice in front of a mirror, it will feel strange, but take it seriously and you will be able to observe your own body language and appearance. If you have to deliver a presentation as part of the interview process, it is essential that you rehearse this in advance to get used to the timings.

Get a trusted family member or a friend to give you a mock interview and provide feedback on how you could improve your performance.

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