Practice your answers
Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up.
DO NOT WAFFLE
- Tell me about yourself - Keep your answer to under five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career.
- What are your strengths? - Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation.
- What are your areas to develop? - The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress. For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no accounts say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.
- Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can't? - What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description.
- What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time? - It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals. Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.
- Why do you want to work here? - The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. Describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them.
- What are three positive things your last boss would say about you? - This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to the work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have in a team.
- What salary are you seeking? - You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills. Try not to give any specific numbers in the heat of the moment – it could put you in a poor position when negotiating later on. Your interviewer will understand if you don’t want to discuss this until you are offered the job.
Acting the part
Even if you’re not feeling confident, make sure you act confident. Always try to use appropriate body language in your interview, such as making a positive handshake, looking your interviewer in the eye, and sitting up straight in your chair.
Finally, the best bit of advice is don't worry, just relax and be yourself. the job interview is as much for you to see if you like the company as it is for them to see if they like you, so go in with an open mind.