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How to: Impress at the interview stage

Applying for jobs can be a difficult business at the best of times, but for many people the most nerve-wracking and difficult part of the recruitment process is getting past the interview stage. After sifting through the various applications, the interview process offers a chance for employers to meet some of the more promising candidates for a particular job in person to try to form a more complete picture of their strengths and weaknesses. A candidate’s performance in a job interview can often be the decisive factor in the success or otherwise of their application, and as such it is important to prepare well.

Before you attend the interview, make sure that you done your research and know something about the history and guiding philosophies of the organisation, as well as their current activities. Find out what the job entails so that you can present your qualifications, experiences, previous jobs, and personal attributes in such a way that you appear to be an ideal candidate for the position. Be sure to brush up on your descriptions and knowledge of all of these things, as an inconsistency between the facts as presented in your CV and your interview could make you seem dishonest. You also need to be prepared to answer stock interview questions such as ‘why do you want this job?’ or ‘what would you say were your strengths and weaknesses?’. It can be both beneficial and reassuring to rehearse an interview situation with a friend or relative, especially if they have any experience in hiring people themselves.

When you turn up to the interview, it’s important that you appear clean, neat and tidy, in attire appropriate to the tone of the organisation, and that you do not smoke or chew gum. It’s better to be a bit early than a bit late, so make sure to set for the interview in plenty of time and plan your route well in advance.
During the interview itself, learn your interviewers name and shake their hand firmly (within reason!) upon meeting them. Be well mannered and polite with everyone you meet, and speak clearly without the use of slang words. Don’t slouch or avoid eye contact, as this can be interpreted as a lack of confidence, or even worse, a lack of interest! Make sure to use body language to demonstrate your interest in what the interviewer is saying, and try to appear confident and enthusiastic without being overbearing. Ask questions of the interviewer about the job and the organisation, but avoid questions that could be answered by looking on the company website as this will smack of a lack of preparation and thoroughness. At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer and be sure to shake hands with them again before you leave.

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