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Before the interview – 7 tips

A challenging environment makes it harder than ever before to impress employers enough to get an interview, so when you do, you want to be sure you make no mistakes.

The key to being successful at anything in life is to put in the effort and hard work. If you haven’t prepared yourself properly for an interview, then any experienced interviewer will catch you out sooner rather than later.

However, there are a number of ways to make sure that you are properly geared up for that all important interview.

Get yourself in the right frame of mind

You want to be in the best possible shape when you arrive for an interview. A positive mental attitude is the key – think back to any previous successes you have had, in any walk of life but particularly job related. Visualising these will automatically put you in a good frame of mind. Also, make sure you know exactly where you are going when you set out and that you leave yourself plenty of time when you get there. Turning up late or flustered puts you in a slightly panicky mindset and this is the last thing you want.

Make sure you look the part

It goes without saying that you don’t want to turn up for the interview looking scruffy; first impressions are everything. Everything about you is a shop window and as an interviewer I will be scrutinising every aspect. For example if your shoes are dirty or your appearance is messy that is an instant mark against you. It may sound silly but it tells me you lack attention to detail.

Match yourself to the job spec

Prospective employers will want to know that you have properly understood what it is they are looking for in a candidate. Make sure that you have fully understood the role you are applying for by studying the job specification and whether your skills and experience would make you a suitable candidate. I have had candidates in the past who spent a great deal of time talking about big corporate deals they have closed, when in actual fact the job spec states we would like someone with a totally different skill set. Had they explained why their skill set was suited to the exact role, they would have had a far better chance.

Ask for advice

When in doubt ask for advice from someone who might be able to help you. If you know someone who has worked for the company you have applied for, then talk to them and find out about the company culture and the person interviewing you. Something like LinkedIn can also be a big help here. Failing that, do you know somebody who works in a similar role for another organisation?

Do your homework

Thanks to the internet It has never been easier to do some research on the organisation you are hoping to work for. Any interviewer is immediately going to dismiss a candidate who turns up not knowing his or her stuff, so it would be foolish to not do your homework. Some general facts about the company, for example an award they may have recently won, is good to drop into the conversation before the interview has started. After that, you should know more specific details about the job you are going for. If you are applying for a finance position, you should have a good grasp of their latest accounts, or if you are applying for a sales role, looking at recent deals the company has made is a must.

Have some questions up your sleeve

At some stage in the interview you are going to be asked if you have any questions. This can often make or break your chances. This is where you need to take control and ask the interviewer almost as many questions as they asked you. Take every chance to drill down the role and the company. Generic questions like “what are the hours” won’t tell you anything of significance – what you really want is information such as what a typical day consists of and what are your key performance indicators. Challenging the interviewer like this immediately tells them you are a proactive person, and they will be sure to remember you when the interviews are all done.

Show confidence without arrogance

It is important to be confident about yourself and your abilities, without going over the top. Employers want people who are lively and full of self-belief, but they also want someone who will work well alongside their existing team. Be careful not to cross the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Managers know that the arrogant employee will upset the environment and could end up being a costly investment.

Taken from an article by James Caan in LinkedIn