Interview Tips

‘Face to face’ interviews are conducted by employers to decide between candidates with similar experience and qualifications. The interviewer will be trying to determine whether or not the applicant has the right social and communication skills and, in many cases, to judge whether or not there will be a good "fit" with a team. Where candidates have previous relevant experience, the interviewer will also be trying to validate the accuracy of the information contained within the CV.

Many people are nervous and often unsure of how to answer a variety of questions that may be put to them. We hope this information will prove to be useful to some of you or may serve to reinforce your own thoughts.

  • Make sure you know exactly where the interview is being held and who you should ask for. Make sure you allow plenty of time to get there.
  • If there are tests involved, you may need to allow for more time and. A calculator would be helpful. Query this with the person arranging the interview.
  • Take a copy of your CV with you and a contact ‘phone number in case you are held up.
  • Find out about your employer. Any information you find out will be useful. The internet is a good starting point. If you are asked what you know about the company it is fine to say something like "I have been told you are a large fund management company but I am interested to know more".
  • Be positive from the start about the job you are applying for and the organisation – try to find out as much as possible about the job in advance. Is there a Job Description? If you would genuinely like the job, be enthusiastic about it. Try not to say things like "Engineering would have been my first choice but I didn’t get the grades."
  • Try to answer questions about your strengths honestly and naturally, eg "I do enjoy talking to customers or clients on the telephone", or "I enjoy working with spreadsheets and numbers", "I feel I am easy to get on with".
  • If you asked about your weaknesses, only admit to one and ensure it is one that will not harm your chances of getting the job. Try to turn your weakness into a strength.
  • If the position you are applying for requires you to take further courses of study, be enthusiastic about it. Do not say, "Having just left university, I have had enough of exams".
  • If the opportunity arises, inform the interviewer about any positions of responsibility you held, eg school prefect, key holder in a company, holder of a special Achievement Award.
  • Make sure you are understood. Do not use jargon - the person interviewing you may not be familiar with the jargon used in the company you currently work in.
  • Understand what acronyms stand for, eg ISA, PEP, OEICS, VP etc, particularly if they are mentioned in your CV.
  • Check understanding when you answer a question or are asked to explain something. If it is not clear that the interviewer has understood, say something like "does that cover your question", or "have I made myself clear enough".
  • Keep to the point. By all means answer a question fully but be aware of the time allocated to each interview and try not to make one isolated question turn into a saga.
  • Find out about the Dress Code of the company. Many companies have ‘dress down’ days and some have a ‘dress down’ policy for every day. However, at the interview stage, it is always wise to ‘dress up’.
  • If you are asked if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to ask about the likelihood of staff training, promotional prospects, the number of staff in the department or whether or not there is a Sports & Social club. Any questions regarding salary, however, should be left until the 2nd interview stage.
  • Most of you will be aware of the common courtesies such as standing up when the interviewer enters the room and offering your hand to be shaken. Also remember to thank the interviewer for seeing you at the conclusion.

We hope some of this information proves to be useful and that the first interview leads to the second interview stage and the job offer. If it turns out not to be the case, then remember that every interview you attend is valuable experience for the next one. GOOD LUCK.

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