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Ace the interview

Make that interview work for you...

I've been asked for advice on applying for jobs a lot recently.  I gave some tips on making your CV stand out in a positive way here.  But once you've got an interview, the next hurdle is how to project yourself well in that arena.

From my own experience, it's important to prepare.  Good preparation makes a candidate stand out.  All too often people busk it.  Bull****ing may be one of your strengths, but it will show!

  • Prepare well for any exercises you are to do, like a presentation.  Research is important, but keep it simple. 30 slides for a 10 minute presentation is too many.  And take handouts in case the technology fails.  You can still keep your cool and demonstrate how well prepared you are for this eventuality.  Rehearse and get some feedback from family, friends or a mentor if you have one.  This will all help you to deliver the presentation to the best of your ability on the day.
  • Look at the job description and think about what questions you might be asked.  Prepare some answers and discuss them with someone whose opinion you value.
  • Consider what you've said you can do in your CV or application.  How will you demonstrate, for example, how you have won new business in the past if this is one of the key responsibilities?  More and more candidates are being asked to demonstrate how they have done things rather than being asked hypothetical questions.
  • Be clear about what you will say is the appeal of the job to you so that you can give a coherent answer to this question.  Also why you are a good candidate for the job.
  • Make a list of 3 to 5 things you want to get over to the interviewer(s) during the interview.  Take it with you and put it in front of you so that you can glance at it often and take opportunities to get this critical information over to them.
  • Prepare some questions in advance and choose the most important 2 or 3 to ask at the end if you are given an opportunity.  Don't fall into the trap of asking too many questions.
  • If the selection process takes place over a number of days be very careful about what you say at all times.  People sometimes say the most unbelievable things and the informal parts count too especially when you want to create a good impression!
  • Remember that recruitment is a two way process.  It is not just you who needs to impress the organisation, they need to be right for you too - the fit works both ways.  Ensure you gain enough information during the selection process to be able to make the right decision for you.  If you are offered the job and are in any doubt about the future boss or organisation, ask to meet with them again for an opportunity to fill in any gaps.  This will pay off in the long run.

Finally, write or email a thank you to the person who interviewed you after the event, saying what particularly appealed to you about the job and why you are a good fit. This is a great way to stand out - in a positive way.

What has worked well for you?



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