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Interview Tips That Lead to Job Offers

Take some advice to help you perform to the best of your potential at an interview. These interview tips will help even the most inexperienced interviewees to shine:

1. Common questions. Consider the most likely questions that you are going to be asked before you even get to the interview. This way you are ready and won’t get stuck for something to say. The most frequent interview questions can all be prepared for.
2. Research. Knowing a thing or two about your potential employer will assist you in the interview. It will help you to tailor your responses and to show you are keen. Spend some time reading the corporate website at least.
3. Consider appearances. In most businesses looking smart is a given so you should think about what to wear carefully. True, some places take a more relaxed attitude to attire, but you cannot go wrong with conventional office wear to create a professional first impression.
4. Focus. On the day of an interview, allow plenty of time to get there without rushing or being stressed by delays. Take everything you might need such as notebooks, pens and a copy of your CV. Remember to look your interviewer directly in the eye, focusing on what they are saying.
5. Smile. A smile can be a powerful tool at a first meeting. Even if you feel nervy, make sure you smile because it will make you come across as friendly and relaxed.
6. Ask something. Never say you have nothing to ask at the interview. It makes you seem disinterested so always have a few questions to ask your interviewer planned in advance.
7. Make notes. Even if you are taking everything in, making a note creates the impression that you are paying full attention. This is one of the best interview techniques for people who want to come across as conscientious.
8. End positively. When the interview is approaching an end try to conclude on a positive note. This could be as simple as saying something like, “I look forward to hearing from you.”
Even if you get put off mid-way through an interview by a difficult question, try to regain your composure and move on. All is not lost if something goes wrong. Remember that it may have tripped up other interviewees too.

What are the most common interview questions?

These are the ten most frequently-asked interview questions that you can expect to face:
1. What can you tell me about yourself?
2. Can you list your strengths?
3. What weaknesses do you have?
4. Why should I consider hiring you?
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
6. Why do you want to work here?
7. What is your salary expectation?
8. What motivates you?
9. What makes a good team player?
10. Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
It is fair to say that you might not be asked every one of these questions at an interview. You may even be asked other, more bizarre ones, like ‘if you were an animal, which would you be?’
Such questions are designed to see how good you are at thinking on your feet so you cannot truly prepare for them. Just relax and say something sensible. For the other common interview questions, consider how you might answer them before you get face-to-face.
1. What can you tell me about yourself?
Talk about yourself in summary and avoid rambling. Your detailed work history can be found on your CV, after all, so focus on elements that you want to highlight rather than going through everything.
It is okay to discuss your personality and what ambitions you have. Ideally, you will give the interviewer a positive insight into how you would fit in as an employee.
2. Can you list your strengths?
An exhaustive list of adjectives, such as ‘capable’, ‘hard-working’ or ‘diligent’, won’t really portray you well because anyone can make such claims about themselves. Instead, think about three things that you do well and give concrete examples.
If you are a strong organiser, for example, then talk about a project that you coordinated, or a new procedure that you formulated. If you are good with numbers, then talk about your skills with spreadsheets or financial matters.
3. What weaknesses do you have?
Never say that you have no weaknesses. Everyone who does this comes across like they have simply not prepared for the interview. Likewise, avoid giving yourself a back-handed compliment, such as, ‘I work too hard.’
Remember that being able to identify a weakness is a strength. Focus on an area of your work that needs to be improved. You might have been trained in something that you’d like to take to the next level, for example. Point out that this is a weakness, but something you have identified and are focusing on resolving. Interviewers want to understand that you have the ability to be honest about yourself and to seek self-improvement.
4. Why should I consider hiring you?
If you are highly qualified for the job you are applying for, then you should point this out, but don’t forget that other people being interviewed may match or exceed your suitability. In such cases, focus on what else you can bring to the job, perhaps with your soft skill set, like being able to integrate well with existing members of the team, for instance.
Don’t give up on an interview if you´re not fully qualified for the job. Appeal to the interviewer’s desire to hire someone with drive. If you are not the finished article, then point out how keen you are to learn and be mentored. Accentuate the positive aspects of what you can do now and how quickly you will be able to progress with what you don’t know if hired.
5. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
This is your chance to talk about your wider ambitions and goals. It is okay to say you’d like to progress on from the position on offer in most cases. Bosses want to hire people with determination so don’t be shy about sounding ambitious or hungry for success. Ideally, try to contextualise your ambitions within the organisation that you are applying to join because this tends to go down better.
6. Why do you want to work here?
This is your chance to show that you have researched the company you are applying to work with. Avoid saying anything negative about your current employer which makes it seem you are simply after any job at all.
Typical things you might say are that the company operates in your chosen sector, that it provides a clearly structured career path and that the organisation has a good reputation. Don’t simply trot these ideas out, though. Do your research!
7. What is your salary expectation?
This is one of the most troublesome questions for many interviewees. For some people, however, it causes no bother at all. It will depend on your personality as to how you feel talking about salary expectations. That said, there are some tips to help you deal with the question.
Firstly, it is okay to talk about pay in terms of ranges and not to be specific about a particular number. It is also okay to include other benefits, like healthcare, pensions and time off within the context of salary. Make sure you have looked at other, similar jobs being advertised in other organisations so that you have an idea of the pay rate in the market.
8. What motivates you?
Motivation is personal, so there is no wrong answer that you can give. It might be down to your desire to succeed and build a career, but it might also be because you want to provide for your family – both perfectly good answers if you choose to give them. In some professions, caring or vocational motivations might be worth mentioning, too.
9. What makes a good team player?
Many people say in their CV that they are good at working cooperatively or are team players, but few say what this actually means. Think about examples from your past that demonstrate your ability to build bridges, form networks or simply get on with people. This needn’t be from your professional life. You could cite any examples from clubs or organisations to which you belong.
Answering this question well is especially important for people who want to be team leaders or to manage a department.

10. Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
Always have at least one question prepared in advance. This is your chance to drill down into an area of the business that might not have been covered in the interview. Alternatively, you may simply like to ask for feedback on how you have done in the interview.
A good tip is to pick up on something that has been mentioned in passing by the interviewer about the job. Ask him or her to expand on this. Not only does it make you appear interested, but it shows that you have been listening attentively to what has been said. It should leave the interviewer with a good final impression of you.
These ten questions are certainly not the only ones that can be posed, but they are the most common ones. Remember that you don’t need to answer all questions at an interview if you feel they are too personal or you are not comfortable with them. Getting yourself prepared for common questions is necessary prep work before attending an interview.
Don’t make the answer come across as rehearsed; rather, just remember the gist of your answer and then let the sentences flow freely during the interview, which gives the interviewer a much better impression of you. Good luck!

How to Prepare for an Interview?
ail to plan, plan to fail. You are certain to be asked specific questions about your potential employer, so make sure you’ve done your homework on things like their last year’s profits and latest product launches. Nothing is as disappointing as when a candidate oozes enthusiasm and then doesn’t even know the most basic facts and figures about a company.

Here are a few places you can find some useful information.
An online search
The company’s website is the best place to start. It shows the company as it would like to be seen and the products and services they offer. You will get a feel for the corporate style, culture and tone of voice. Check out their Annual Report and look for a press or company news page.

As you filter all this information, consider how the role you’re applying for relates to the company’s mission. You may also be able to use the site’s search facility to discover more about the person or people who will be interviewing you.

You should spend some time looking online for any other information you can find about the company. Put their name into Google News to see if they’ve had any recent interesting stories written about them. You could also discover some information written by their current employees on what it’s like to work there. It’s also worth searching for your own name to see what crops up – your potential employer may be doing the same thing.

Industry sources
It’s not just information about the company you need – you should also have a good background knowledge of the industry so you can impress at the interview. Browse through business publications and websites to see what they are writing about your potential employer and their industry. Have a look on the newsstands at the big magazine retailers – there’s an amazing list of publications out there.

You may find back issues of trade publications at university or public libraries, or you might be able to access them online. Some journals are even available for free or by subscription through their own websites. If you’re already in the same industry as your potential employer, it may be possible to discreetly ask colleagues or your suppliers if they know anything about the company you’re interested in.

Preparing yourself
This is the bit most people forget to give enough time to, so don’t get caught out. Just like when you’re going into an exam, feel confident that you can field any question they throw at you, and try to feel as good about yourself as you can. It really does shine through. Here are a few top tips:
• Have a mock interview with a friend based on the common interview questions you’re likely to face.
• Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and the name of interviewers.
• Decide how you will get there and when you need to set off to arrive in good time, anticipating any delays. Do a dummy run if necessary.
• If you look good, you tend to feel good too. Avoid any last minute panic by preparing what you’re going to wear the night before.
• Don’t go into the interview with lots of baggage – psychological or physical. Take the bare minimum with you so you can concentrate on the interview, and nothing else.
• If you are asked to bring certificates, references etc., get them ready well in advance to avoid having to chase around on the morning of the big day.
• It may sound patronising, but make sure you use the toilet before you go in – you don’t want to be bursting to go when you’re mid-interview.

Be methodical
Sit down with your CV and make notes, just as if you were preparing for an exam. Study your work record and what you have achieved. How do you see yourself? What have you done? What ambitions do you have? Make notes and prepare and rehearse sound bites about yourself. Do this out loud, even if it feels a bit weird.

Try to relate specific areas of your CV back to the job description. It will make it clear to the interviewer why they should hire you.

Remember, one of the most common interview questions is “Tell me about yourself”. Prepare a balanced and succinct answer to this question, not a life history. Keep it business-like and don’t stray into personal feelings or family relationships. Avoid anything to do with politics or religion. Interviewers use this question to learn about your personal qualities, not your achievements – they should already have those from your CV.

What to Wear to an Interview
Interviews are formal occasions so your choice of clothing should reflect this. Unless you specifically know in advance that a workplace has a particular dress code, you should choose what to wear to an interview based on formality. The key things to consider when wondering what to wear for an interview are:
1. Be prepared. The day of an interview can be a little hectic so pick out what you are going to wear the day before. Being caught in two minds over wardrobe choices on the morning of an interview can lead to unwelcome stress.
2. Do your laundry. Noticing a stain or mark on your best interview suit at the last minute is to be avoided. Launder or dry clean your interview clothes so that they are ready to go on the big day.
3. Smarten up. If you are not in the habit of wearing a shirt and tie in your day-to-day life, then get into the habit of pressing your shirt and knotting your neck tie so that it does not look like the first time you have done it at the interview.
4. Hair matters. Scruffy hair can make you come across as unprofessional in appearance. Along with smart attire, you should tie your hair back with a no-nonsense accessory or have a trim.
5. Dress or suit? Dresses are perfectly good choices for office wear but not if they are too glitzy or are really only suitable as evening wear. If your dresses are not ideal for an interview, then opt for a trouser suit or a simple skirt and blouse combination.
6. Jewellery. Rings, necklaces and other accessories are okay to wear to an interview, but don’t overdo it. Too many items of jewellery can be distracting so select a few things only and stay modest.
7. Footwear choices. Men should opt for black or brown shoes and avoid things like canvas trainers. Women should not be overly adventurous with high heels and avoid informal footwear such as flip flops even on a hot summer’s day.
8. Fashion tips. Unless your interview is with a glossy magazine, few people will be bothered about up-to-date fashion so don’t feel the need to buy a new trendy wardrobe. Keep it sensible and smart and you will be okay.
What should I take to my job interview?
Thorough preparation for a job interview is the key to maximising your chances of being successful. Sometimes this can mean taking examples of your work, or evidence of your past successes with you.

Essential items for a job interview

Although you won’t have been specifically asked for them, there are a few things you should have on you on your way to the meeting:

Your invite – which should also have on it the directions to where you’re going and the names of the people you will be meeting.

The job description – in most cases you will have received a job description some time before the interview. Make sure you take along a copy of that as it will provide a good reference point to glance at should you lose your train of thought.

Your CV – the copy you sent may have mislaid, so if you take a few along you can give one to each interviewer rather than asking them to share. You may also be asked to fill out an additional application form on the premises where your interview is taking place. Having your own CV with you will help you remember details that you need to complete the form.

A bottle of water – you will probably be offered a drink, but it’s a good idea to have a drink on you just in case you start to dry up.

A notepad – before you go you should note down a list of questions for your interviewer, and you will also have a place to job down any thoughts as your discussion progresses.
Showing off

If you work in a creative industry, such as advertising, architecture or design, it should be second nature to take examples of your work to show what you can do and what you have done.

The way you present your portfolio is just as important as the way you present yourself. Make sure it’s in a smart folder and only pick out a few pieces that show you in your best light. There’s no point trying to show your entire back catalogue of work so if you would like to show off more, host it online and let your interviewer have a link.

Even outside these sectors, you may be asked to bring in certain items by your interviewer such as your passport, working visa, or driving licence. If you want to prove your worth but don’t have any specific examples of your work to show off, you may also want to take along:

– Letters of commendation

– Client testimonials

– Company awards

– Target achievement results

– Internal or external press clippings

– Customer satisfaction surveys

If you have reference letters, bring along copies to discuss during the interview – or to leave behind If you don’t have direct reference letters, take a list of three or four professional contacts who have agreed to provide references if needed.Don’t take too much.

The first interview is often not the place to take along a sack full of items showing why you’re the perfect candidate and this may distract them from the real selling point – you.

Bring the bare minimum with you so you can converse without having to rustle through a bag. It will actually work to your advantage if you leave things at home as it will give you an excuse to get in touch after the interview to send examples of your work, and to thank them for the interview.
What questions should I ask my interviewer?

Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions after they’ve finished grilling you, so be prepared to make the most of it. Try to concentrate on issues that are important to you and combine an interest in the company with an interest in the job.
With a wide variety of interview styles and structures, there’s every possibility that everything you want or need to know about the job will have been covered over the course of the interview. There is always more information available though and if you don’t have at least five questions to ask the interviewer, you’ll come across as passive rather than curious and interested.
Questions you could ask about the role
Regarding role specific questions to ask, look through the job description to see if there are any areas that you would like more information about. Here are some good examples of the questions you could ask about the role:
• Why has the position become available?
• What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
• How does the company expect these objectives to be met?
• What are the measures used to judge how successful I am in the role?
• What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives?
• What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives?
• What can I expect from you in terms of development and support?
• What aspirations do you have for me at the company?
• Where will the job fit into the team structure?
Questions to ask about the company’s culture
Good interview preparation should have given you an insight into what it’s like to work for a company, but it’s good to get answers straight from the horse’s mouth in case you’ve misinterpreted anything. These questions are a good place to start:
• What’s the best thing about working at your company?
• What is the main thing the organisation expects from its employees?
• How do you build good relationships within teams?
• What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company?
• Are there any plans for expansion?
• How would you describe the company culture and management style?
To show your interest and knowledge of the industry the company operates in, it’s also a good idea to have a question ready regarding a current event or issue in the market. For example, “How do you think the recent merger between your two main competitors will affect the future of the industry?”
How well your interviewer reacts and answers your questions gives you a great insight into the company. The interview isn’t just for them to see if you’re the right fit for the organisation – if you’re confident about your skills and ability to do the job, you should also be making sure they’re the right fit for you. Generally, it’s not a good idea to ask about pay or benefits, as this can make you seem more interested in what the organisation can do for you, rather than what you can do for them.

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