How to make the right impression
Interviews can be daunting - particularly when your hopes of landing a new job are counting on your performance.
First impressions do count, so make yours the best. This section will show you how to compose yourself, and set you on the road to success...
Confirm the time and venue for your interview 24 hours beforehand, and don't leave your journey to chance.
Make sure you've up-to-date timetables for public transport or if you're travelling by car, leave time for parking and other hold-ups.
Although dress down policies are becoming the norm, it's still best to stick to a smart suit.
You'll be judged on your attitude as well as your appearance, so greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, make eye contact and flash them a winning smile.
Make sure you understand what the job entails. Then find out what form the interview will take - is it a one-on-one or panel interview?
Do you need to bring examples of your work? Will there be a test to assess your skills? And finally, make sure you know about the company.
Ask the firm for some promotional literature; find out where it stands in the marketplace and which companies are its main competitors, better still talk to someone who works there.
Interview questions normally fall into four categories: You as a person; your work history, skills and experience; the company; the job.
Through these questions the interviewer is looking for an insight into your personality. Why are you leaving your current job? What do you know about their company and do you have the skills to fulfil the job specification?
Put yourself in their shoes. What would you ask? Brainstorm your answers with a friend.
An interviewer will often see many candidates in a day. The one he or she remembers is the one who had something interesting to say.
So write down what you consider to be your skills, strengths, achievements, and the areas where there's room for improvement.
If you have spent time considering what you have to offer you'll feel more comfortable presenting these strengths to your prospective employer.
Make sure you can expand on all of your answers. Your CV/resume may well provide them with all the info they need - but the interviewer needs to check out your communications skills.
However, make sure the additions to your answers add value, don't be long winded for the sake of it.
If you're asked to make a presentation keep the content short and simple. If you have been asked to present for 15 minutes, make sure you have not completed it in five, or that you're still talking after half an hour.
Run through your talk a few times in front of the mirror - this will help you get your timing right.
There comes a point in every interview when you'll be asked: 'Have you got any questions?' The worst answer you can give is no.
Think hard about what aspects of the job are important to you. Are there training opportunities for example? What are the opportunities for career progression?
But be careful not to bombard the interviewer with a long list - they may have a tight interview schedule to stick to.
Don't be afraid to take notes, not only does this look professional, but jotting down your interviewer's answers could come in useful as a reminder of important points if you're called to a second interview.
Moreover, noting the job's benefits could help in your own decision making if you have one or more job offers.
Leave the interview in a polite and assured fashion, meet the interviewer's eye, give them a firm handshake and smile. If you are interested in the job follow up with a letter.
On your way home write a recap of the interview when it's fresh in your mind. Compose a follow-up letter and post it within 24 hours.
This shows you're enthusiastic and organised and may set you apart from other applicants in the interviewer's mind.