27 March 2012

You've got an interview - at last! Here are some tips to help it go smoothly.

Part four of our helpful hints
Finally the letter arrives inviting you to interview.
Read it carefully and if required acknowledge receipt confirming your attendance.  Then get out your copy of your application re-read it and the job description to re-familiarise yourself with what the job entails.  Check where the interview will be held, it’s no good going to the reserve if the interview is at headquarters.  Ensure you know how to get there, it sounds basic but it’s important.  If you’re travelling by public transport check timetables.  If you’re driving check parking arrangements, if the site has a car park phone reception to ensure there will spaces available on the day.
If you don’t already know then now is the time for some background reseach into the job, is it a newly funded post, are you taking over from a current employee.  Look at the organisation, not just your department, and at how your role will fit into the whole company structure.  Think about questions you’re likely to be asked and although you don’t want to sound over-rehearsed practise your answers and practice out loud something that sounds sensible in your head might sound wrong when you come to say the words and it’s better to do that at home rather than stumble in an interview.
An interviewer will often ask if you have any questions for them, prepare a couple in advance.  The first one should always be to enquire if there is “anything you would like me to clarify or explain in more detail?”  Interviewers are human too and may have a page of scribbled notes that need more detail.  You can demonstrate your research here by enquiring, for example, how your role might interact with another project within the organisation.

The day arrives.
Dress smartly and appropriately and that isn’t simply ruling out fancy dress!  If you’re getting a guided tour of the site take your waterproofs and boots with you.  Take copies of your CV, references and application as well as a notebook and pen showing that you’re organised and taking the interview seriously.
Arrive ten minutes early.  If you’re held up do phone to explain; interviewers understand about unforeseen events outside our control and will make allowances as long as you tell them.  Don’t arrive in a flap with a flurry of excuses.
Greet everyone with a smile and, if appropriate, a handshake.  First impressions do matter.
If you stumble over an answer take a deep breath, apologise and ask if you can start again.
If you’re changing jobs be honest about the reasons but don’t be negative about your current employer or your colleagues it reflects badly on you not them and will make an interviewer think twice about you.
Remain calm and composed.
At the end of the interview don’t bolt for the door, but thank the interviewers for the opportunity and re-iterate your interest in the role.

Fingers crossed you get the job but if you’re unlucky most organisations, not all, will give you feed back if you request it.  Before you phone, think over the interview and ask for constructive feedback such as what the interviewer thought you could improve don’t just ask “Why didn’t you give me the job?”, phrase your questions carefully remember you may be back for a different post.

One more part to follow next week, a few guidelines.  If you can't wait that long or have missed any of the previous hints read the whole document here.

As we're nearly at the end what would you like to see next? Let us know.