The key to a successful interview is preparation. Find out as much information as possible about the company you are applying to, such as, their history, culture, competitors, and nature of their business. In addition, research your interviewers; know their role at the company, education, background, and length of tenure with the company.
It is important that you understand the role you are applying for so be sure to ask for a copy of the job description ahead of time if there is one (but note that there may not always be one). Review it, learn it, and know your CV inside out. Ensure that you are able to link your experience and qualifications with the job description and the role that you are interviewing for.
Be prepared to discuss your employment history and explain any gaps in your CV.
Make sure that you know the exact location of where the interview will take place, drive by the location prior to the interview, and be sure to check out parking availability. Remember to think ahead to the timing of your interview and allow adequate time for traffic.
Prepare questions to ask the interviewer, remembering that the interview is a two-way conversation and should be used to ascertain whether or not the role and the company will provide you with the career that you are looking for.
First impressions count so be sure to look smart. General advice is to dress conservatively – a nice shirt/blouse and a pair of trousers or a skirt and make sure your shoes look clean and presentable.
Keep makeup, perfume/aftershave and jewelry to a minimum. You don’t want it to be a distraction.
Finally, do not under any circumstances leave your phone on or answer a call on your cell phone during the interview and always remove your sunglasses and hats prior to entering an interview.
Arriving early for an interview shows eagerness on your part to the prospective employer. However, do not arrive more than 5-10 minutes early as this can be inconvenient. Being late for an interview is inexcusable and unacceptable.
What you may need
Having a pen and paper proves useful in case you have any important facts that need to be jotted down.
Bring a copy of your resume with you as the interviewer might not have it to hand and it may be useful to have a copy to refer to.
- Make sure you know the exact name of the individuals or people who will be interviewing you.
- Arrive a few minutes early and let the receptionist know who you are and who you are meeting with.
- Take a seat and make sure that your cell phone is switched off and you are not chewing gum.
- You want to present an impression of being self-assured and quietly confident. When you first meet the interviewer, smile, look them in the eye and give a firm handshake – make a good first impression.
- Wait until you have been offered a chair before sitting.
- During the interview, maintain sensible eye contact but avoid staring.
- If there is more than one interviewer, make sure that you address your answers to all interviewers and give eye contact to all.
- Allow the interviewer to control the meeting and demonstrate your listening skills as well as your verbal skills.
- Be aware of your body language and avoid tapping your feet, talking excessively with your hands, etc.
- Think before you speak! Listen to the questions and take a moment before you answer. When talking about yourself, be positive and enthusiastic.
- Don’t answer questions with a yes or no; explain and describe your answer but be sure not to waffle.
- Never initiate discussions on salary and/or benefits during the first stage interview and be prepared for questions regarding your salary expectations, making sure they are in line with the salary range for the position.
- Avoid being critical or making derogatory remarks about your current or previous employer.
- Prepare some questions for your interviewers so that you are ready when asked at the end of interview.
- Always end the interview on a positive note. Thank the interviewer(s) for his/her time and establish the next stage of the process including timeframes.
After the interview, it can give you a positive edge if you write a thank you email confirming your continued interest in the position and company. Do not pester or harass the interviewer/employer by continually calling or emailing them but rather wait for them to contact you.