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Interview Tips

Interview Tips

You already know that having a flawless and professional Curriculum Vitae is critical to your job-seeking success. Having a CV that's better than the other candidates will secure you an interview, it's as simple as that. With that in mind, it seems logical that we should publish some extensive advice on how to deal with that next step - the interview itself.

Before The Interview

Research The Target Company
This is 100% critical. Researching the target company not only allows you to formulate intelligent questions to ask the interviewers, but it also informs you more about the company in terms of it's 'health' within the marketplace, which is always good to know. The more effort you put in here, the more use it will be. It's hard to give specific examples here because of the sheer range of sectors and roles that people apply for, but there are some universal tips.
  • Company structure - Will yours be the only office? Is the business international?
  • History - When was the company established? Is it linked to any sister-companies? Who are the directors?
  • Product range - Exactly what products, services or solutions do they sell or manufacture?
  • Competitors - Use Google to see who else is providing the same services in the same territories.
  • Customers - Does the company website mention who their biggest contracts are with? Private or public sector?
  • Industry overview - It's worth using Wikipedia to understand the basics of the industry and essential terminology, you can drop this into the conversation naturally and your interviewers will be impressed that you show a genuine interest.

Compile Questions
It's massively important to ensure that the conversation is two-way. Not only does it give you a chance to clarify things for your own sake, but asking intelligent questions shows you are enthusiastic about the role and the industry. It also means that while the interviewers are answering, the pressure is not on you!
  • Use your company research to prepare questions about the company and it's products.
  • Also feel free to ask questions about the working environment.
  • Examples include asking about the organisational hierarchy, who you will be reporting to, the size of your team, if there is a culture of social interaction within the department (eg: do they ever do any team-building days or go for evening or lunchtime meals), must you wear a suit every day?
  • Judge your questions appropriately. Ask a friend what he or she would ask.
  • If you were unable to find out who the competitors and biggest customers are during your research, ask now! Be sure to mention that you "did some background research prior to the interview but were unable to get those facts". Ask politely, as some companies deliberately shield this information.
  • Rehearse your questions - memorise them, or jot them in short-form on the top of a spare CV copy and take that with you.

Get Ready To Justify Your CV
You must know your CV inside-out. Interviewers are trained to cross-examine everything that's on this document, and they can easily fluster you if you've not thought things through. This is why it's an absolute no-brainer to have your CV re-vamped by a professional CV writing service such as CV Lizard, as we can word things in the correct way.
  • Bring a spare copy of your CV with you to the interview. If possible, read it and re-read it on the way there.
  • Check that you can justify EVERY SINGLE point on your CV and be ready to give explicit examples, including figures (Improved sales by how much? How many people did you manage? What was so exemplary about the way you delivered customer service?).
  • Make sure you've done this at least the day before the interview, and if you have to, make notes on the spare copy of your CV just in case (aim to rely purely on your mind though).
  • You WILL be questioned on gaps of any kind and will need to be able to answer in a positive manner. What were you doing during that time?

Getting There
  • Ensure you know where the interview will be. Double-check because the company may have more than one office or building. Do not assume.
  • Make sure you have the full address and the contact details for the person you need to ask for with you.
  • If you need to use public transport, check routes well in advance.
  • Consider buying tickets the day before if possible, sometimes this negates having to queue (on the train, for example).
  • If possible, visit the location at a time before the interview. Be prepared. Avoid getting flustered when you have five minutes to go and realise their instructions do not make sense. Consider using Google Maps to check alternative routes.
  • Get the bus or train before the one you actually need if possible. This covers delays.
  • If you have to arrive with masses of time to spare, do not wait in a pub, wait in a coffee-shop. Not only because drinking before an interview is a mistake, but also because you never know if a member of the company staff might see you - impressions count.
  • If you are going to be late, inform them straight away. Don't wait for delays to clear if it's getting tight. Better to advise them of lateness and then turn up on time.

What To Bring
  • Mobile phone - to contact them if late or lost, as above.
  • Spare CV copy - read it on the way, jot down questions in short-form, annotate facts, note industry acronyms etc, as above.
  • Any documents they issued you - "Bring this letter to the interview with you."
  • ID - This is always helpful. If you have a driving license or passport with you it can sometimes be asked for.
  • A pen - to make notes, ensure it works! You can use the back of your spare CV copy as paper.

What To Wear
This will vary depending on the role, the industry, the time of year, and many other factors. The fundamental rule is that society is judgmental, particularly in the world of the workplace - sad, but true. Neglect regarding your appearance can be off-putting.
  • Pay attention to neatness and cleanliness.
  • Have a shave (if male), make sure your hands and nails are clean (as they will be visible).
  • Ensure body-odour is neutralised (don't overdo it).
  • Remember this first impression is important. You may not have to wear a suit on a day-to-day basis but you should for most interviews.

Further Preperation
  • Mobile Phones - Silent is okay if it's not going to vibrate, but we strongly suggest OFF for the interview itself!
  • Ensure you've eaten.
  • Ensure you've been to the toilet!

Psychological Aspects
Interviews make a lot of people nervous which is essentially natural and to a small-degree useful because it keeps you focused, but being worried is detrimental to success. Spending some time considering how your mindset plays a part in your success is actually very important.
  • Interviewers are human beings. Yes, they are employed to question and analyse candidates, but they have the same emotions and have also been interviewees at some point.
  • An interview is really just another life experience and another form of interaction. This means it's something to look forward to, not worry about.
  • If the interview does not go well, you have lost absolutely nothing, the situation will be the same as before you went in! That is the worst case!
  • Remember, this is not a test. It's an opportunity to shine. It's you judging the post for your needs too. You don't have to take a job even if offered!
  • You KNOW you are valuable to the company, you're just trying to make them see this. If they don't, it's still true.
  • Every interview is practice, keeping your skills sharp. If you get caught on a killer question, it won't happen again in the future!
  • Embed these points in your mind. These are all facts and are useful to "call-up" at any time.

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