So you've managed to get an interview for that new job, but don't relax just yet. Getting an interview to a job and getting the job are too very different things. Here are some tips to guide you through the interview process and (hopefully) into a job.
Step 1 - Preparation. It's a cliche but it's one worth listening to. Preparing for an interview is more important than the interview itself as your lack of preparation will show. Research the company and job role so you know what they do and what would be expected of you. You don't have to go overboard with it but as much as your time allows. The chances are you won't get asked any of what you've learnt but it will add to your interview attitude as you'll be relaxed, safe in the knowledge that if they do ask you, you'll be ready. It also wouldn't hurt to throw in a few examples during your chat to show your potential employers that you have done your research and more importantly, that you are taking the opportunity seriously. If you can't find any good information then, if you used one, ask the recruitment services that got you the interview.
Step 2 - The Day of the interview. On the day of your interview make sure you look your best. First impressions count and even if your potential workplace is populated with t-shirt and jeans wearing employees, you don't work there yet so dress smartly until you do. There has never been a disadvantage to wearing a suit to a job interview and if it gets you the job then it's worth wearing your Sunday best for two hours isn't it.
Make sure you arrive early to avoid any flustering or rushing into a situation where you really need to be relaxed. If you've got the time arrive in the area of your interview an hour before and find a coffee shop or somewhere you can sit down and relax. Go through your notes one last time and just generally get into a professional frame of mind. If you used recruitment services, don't be afraid to call them to ask for any tips or coaching just before your interview time is due.
Step 3 - The Interview. There's no set pattern for job interviews, but there are almost always the same sort of universal questions, here are just some of the most commonly asked (and how to answer them).
Tell me about yourself - Used as a good icebreaker, although any interviewer that knows what it's like to be in your position will start with their back story, to ease you in and so you can be ready to start when they've finished. Start by running through your CV, you don't have to give a lecture as the interviewer will ask you to elaborate on anything that's caught their eye. Giving examples of what you achieved in each job is also worthwhile.
What are your strengths - Be honest and pick the three things that you think are strengths, but be prepared to back up any that might be debatable, for example, is being laid back a strength or a weakness.
What are your weaknesses. - Again, honesty is the key here. Don't bother lying or exaggerating as if you blag your way into a job role, you'll very quickly be exposed as a liar and quickly put back where you started. When discussing your weaknesses, back them up with examples of you trying to work on them or simply that you're aware of them.
Where do you see yourself in five years' time. - A well-known interview question and one that can be phrased so much better but never mind. When an interviewer asks this they are basically looking for what your career plans are so answer along the lines of 'in five years I'm looking at progressing in my career in your company and facing any challenges to become an expert in my field' and avoid comedy answers like 'a rock star' or 'in your job'.
Why do you want to work here. - Even if it's true, avoid answers like 'because its near my house' or 'I really want to work in the centre of town'. This question is an excellent opportunity to display your researched knowledge of the company so feel free to explain how you really liked what the company stands for, or how their knowledge in the industry is highly regarded and you'd relish the chance to learn from the best. In a nutshell, use disguised flattery.
What salary are you seeking - An unfair question as they already know what they can pay you, but anyway, if you get the chance try and find out what the salary of the same job role in another company is and use that as a basis. Try not to quote numbers in the interview, you won't be thinking straight and could easily under estimate what they are offering. If they have mentioned a guide salary in the job spec document you can just reply that you are looking around the same amount they are offering. Don't be afraid to throw the question back and ask them what they had in mind, that way you can always reply with a more reasonable amount or stay quiet if it's what you want.
Follow those tips and who knows. You might just get the job, good luck.