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Interview Techniques

Preparation – DO:

  • Your research into the company. The company website is the obvious place to start, but also look more broadly at its competitors and the coverage it has achieved in the media. If particular issues keep coming up, make sure you understand the context
  • Read the job description and re-read it. Know what is expected of you and prepare some examples of how your experience fits the brief
  • Read your CV again, particularly if you sent the organisation a version targeted specifically to the role. Check that all the dates tally up
  • Prepare your questions. If you don’t have any questions to ask the interviewer you will come across as unprepared and unenthusiastic
  • Think about your motivation for looking for a new job, and for applying for this job in particular. What attracted you to this particular role?
  • Think about your key messages, or your ‘elevator pitch’ so that you can answer an open question such as ‘tell me about yourself’
  • Dress professionally. Every organisation has a different dress code, but you should err on the side of caution and wear smart, coordinated clothes


DON’T:

  • Think you can wing it
  • Go to the interview if you aren’t really interested in the job
  • Expect that style will win over substance!


When you arrive – DO:

  • Try to arrive 10 minutes early to visit the bathroom and catch your breath
  • If you are running late, phone ahead to apologise and give an estimated arrival time
  • Be polite to everyone, particularly the receptionist and anyone you meet in the lift – you might be unknowingly standing next to your interviewer
  • Give your interviewer a firm handshake. A limp or clammy handshake leaves a bad first impression, putting you on the back foot from the start


DON’T

  • Rush. The ‘hassled and dishevelled’ look does not leave a good impression
  • Arrive half an hour early. This is equally unimpressive. Walk around the block or go for a cup of coffee if you arrive early. Interviewers will rarely see you earlier than arranged
  • Give your interview a ‘death-grip’ handshake


During the interview – DO:

  • Make eye contact. If you are being interviewed by a panel focus on the person who asked you the question, but make sure you occasionally look at the other panel members
  • Give tangible examples of your experience with every answer
  • Explain what skills and experience you can bring to the role
  • Answer questions about any gaps on your CV or short periods of employment positively. Focus on what you learnt from the experience and keep brief your reasons for leaving
  • Turn negative questions into positive answers. Be optimistic but not sycophantic
  • Ask questions. If the interviewer has told you all about the job and the company, ask about the culture or working environment. The interview is a two way process, make the most of it


DON’T:

  • Answer every question with ‘we did this’ – it is much more powerful to say ‘I did this’ (if it’s true!). The interview is to find out about your experience, not your team’s
  • Take the credit for other people’s work – someone in your team might also be interviewed for this job, leaving you exposed
  • Waffle
  • Lie (particularly about your salary)
  • Criticise the employer’s current communications strategy or output. It might have been created by your interviewer
  • Read from your CV
  • Interrupt
  • Say that you love doing something in your current job which is not going to be an element of the new job
  • Say that you hate doing something in your current job which is going to be a large part of the new job
  • Get drawn into a slanging match about your current employer


After the interview – DO:

  • Give your recruitment consultant your honest feedback, including how interested in you are in pursuing the opportunity
  • Expect honest and detailed feedback from the recruiter or client