If you have an opportunity to choose the time of your interview, aim for the first, or if that has been taken, the last interview. That way you maximise your chances of an effective interview standing out to your advantage...
Confirm by letter the interview place, time, day and date.
- in case of a mistake
- as a courtesy
- as another opportunity to create a good impression.
Get further background information about the job, the employing organisation, its products, processes and services. Ask for a copy of the company's annual report, sales brochures, catalogues etc. Do your own research into its products, the type of company (public, private, family owned, quango) its market performance, competitors, etc. Consider the organisation's likely Strengths and Weaknesses. What are the Threats to the organisation's future success. What Opportunities does it have to grow and increase its success in the future.
Get a copy of the job description if possible.
Re-read the advertisement, application form and letters. Assess what you have to offer - relevant strengths, experience and skills, memorising the six most important points. It's important not to assume the interviewers have read everything in detail or that they remember each step of your career.
If appropriate, check what your last employer will say in answer to queries about the reason for job termination. If necessary, negotiate an agreed statement. It sends out bad signals if the candidate says one thing and their last employer another.
Be ready to respond fully to the request "Tell me something about yourself". Map out a short narrative about your education, work experience, motivations, career goals, interests, etc. Learn this by heart. There's often a golden opportunity to "tell your story" for several uninterrupted minutes near the beginning of an interview.
Be careful with humour. It can be very powerful as a means of establishing rapport if the interviewer shares your sense of humour - but very powerful as a means of alienating you if not.
Identify the questions which will pose difficulties for you and consider how to answer them. Practice your answers. To help you, examples of some frequently asked interview questions are listed at the end of this section.
Make sure you are aware of new developments in your field - a common question over which many candidates stumble relates to new developments - for example "where do you think the industry is heading?"
Write a couple of questions about the job or the company and make sure you take them with you.
Discuss the interview with your family, especially matters affecting them, such as relocation. Ask your partner or a friend to help you practise some of the questions you are concerned about.
If you have a medical condition which you feel might jeopardise your application, consider and practise how you would respond to questions about your health. You can say that you are willing to undergo a medical examination by the company's medical officer. But be discreet - medical things are best discussed only with medically qualified staff.
Find out the names and positions of the interviewers and as much as you can about their outlook, attitudes, areas of business for which they have responsibility and so on.
Have an idea of what would be an acceptable financial package and how you will phrase it. It is rare that this is raised in a first interview, but if you are prepared, it won't wrong-foot you if you are asked.