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How To Breeze Through Interviews

Career : Interviews

All of us have to go through them at some stage - whether it is to get into school or simply for that all elusive first job that you have been looking forward to(!) all your life.

Whatever the reason, virtually everyone goes through an interview at some stage of their life. Which, for many, is unfortunate, since they can be a very nerve-wracking process indeed. We can go in with all the best intentions, and end up waffling, or not saying enough, or a whole host of things. Either way, most people feel that they do not do themselves justice in an interview for a cornucopia of reasons.

This being the case, what can you do about it? How can you ensure that you give your best at interview - and hence be satisfied with the outcome whether or not you get the job, because remember not getting the job does by no means mean that you did not do well in the interview - it could simply be that you were not the best candidate or they were looking for a different mix of experience and abilities.

Well here are my tips on how to perform well at interview.

The first tip is actually before the interview - make sure that you send in a clear, uptodate CV, that does not sell yourself short but lists all your achievements. If you are required, bring one along with you to the interview as well as any certificates they may require. Read or listen carefully to all the information that you are given before the interview - if told to check-in 15 minutes before so, then do so.

Thus, the most important thing is to be punctual. If this means taking the earlier train than you normally would, then do so. Also, make sure that you dress appropriately - in most instances, this will require wearing a suit or at least dressing smartly; if this is not the case you will probably be told in advance.

Once at the interview, make sure that you are looking your best. If you have walked through a hurricane to get there, then make sure that you are dry and your hair is brushed - people want to employ those who take a pride in themselves and their appearance. Because first impressions are so important, if you are all over the place, as it were, then you many not be able to recover.

When you are called into interview, stand up straight and try your best to relax. if this means taking a few deep breaths before you go into that room, then by all means do so, tense then loosen your shoulders. Remember to smile when you get into the room - remember, first impressions again. Smile and be polite. Shake hands as appropriate, and wait to be told to be seated - don't just go in and sit down.

Throughout the interview be as happy and enthusiastic as possible, smiling and not looking glum. If you are tired, do not say so - remember you want to create a positive impression in their mind, so don't use any negatives about yourself or your situation.

Right, so you are in the interview. What now? You will no doubt be asked a variety of questions about the job, why you want the job and why you think you are suitable for the job. It is a good idea to have thought about these before you get into the room, but do not make the mistake than many do and learn prepared answers. That's because these will sound false and delivered in the interview, and they may not exactly fit the question.

So listen to the question. It is amazing how many people don't. When you answer, speak confidentally and slightly more slowly than you do normally - people have a tendency to gabble when under pressure. Also don't feel that you must speak and speak - say what you want to say, by all means, but then don't repeat it a hundred times. You won't be wanted, nor have the time to do this in most jobs.

Do not moan about previous jobs and bosses you have had, whether justified or not - no-one wants a moaner. Remember that you need to be positive throughout.

If you are asked about your strengths, don't be modest. If you are asked about your weaknesses, then make sure they can easily be turned into positives - don't say 'oh I am always late' because then they will run a mile. Perhaps sometimes you are too loyal, or over-enthusiastic to take the lead in certain circumstances which can lead you to take a little too much responsibility sometimes. Make them almost positive negatives.

Don't lie. Some people fall into this trap, and often they are caught out. It is hard to tell a lie convincingly as well, and they are usually found out because they need to pause longer when asked certain questions. You want to get the job truthfully.

Do not be defensive with your body language - don't fold your arms and lean back in your chair. Instead remain open and friendly, and if you want use your hands for emphasis - this looks confident. However don't go overboard and look as though you are conducting an orchestra, a trap that many people on tv fall into as you will have no doubt noticed at some stage!

You might like to try mirroring the person interviewing you - copying their body pose, and pattern of speech. This will help subconsciously build a rapport between you.

If you are asked a toughie, and most people are at some stage, then do feel prepared to ask for a minute to think about it. This is not a bad thing at all but shows that you are treating the interview seriously and want to give your best shot at giving a good answer rather than rushing a bad one. This will impress them if anything and is certainly not a bad point. Silences in interviews should not be awkward moments.

Afterwards thank the the interviewer, and if you get the opportunity to ask some questions do so, or if you really have covered everything in the interview, then say something like 'no, thanks, we have covered all the issues comprehensively in the course of this interview', or words to that effect - make it look as though you have taken the interview seriously and have prepared for it.

So, those are the tips. They may sound basic, but then the whole interview process is. They want someone who is happy, enthusiastic and confident. Yet surprisingly few people do this. But with the attitude and advice above and a little quality preparation, making sure you know why you want the job and why you think you would be good at it, then you can give it your best shot. There is no magic trick to interviews, just follow the above and you will no doubt be able to do yourself justice. Also remember that you can get much better with practice, and having mock interviews where practical beforehand could be a good idea.

By: Paul Thomas on Wed, Jun 12th 2002

More interview skills advice

I've been in several interviews, and I have gotten the offer or job every time. During high school I was "taught" how to be interviewed through the Junior Achievement program...what a load of crap. I've tried their method (basically, don't be yourself...be like everyone else) and it didn't work. So, I came up with my own method and used it for my interview for the 2003 Disney College Internship, and other jobs.

The method? Be yourself! Don't go all dressed out in a suit and tie, unless they require it. I'm not saying dress like a slob...but you don't have to dress like a millionaire - after all, you are hunting for a job. I don't think they expect you to be a millionaire! Don't go and try to act "professional" either, they can see right through you when you do that.

The easiest way to win is simply to answer the questions in complete honesty. Say the first thing that comes to mind, because it's what you honestly believe. You may think your answer sounds stupid...but it's not as stupid as you think. Be yourself, be energetic (but not hyper), and act like you're talking with a friend.

This may be a complete 180 turn from what you were taught in life...but this is the method that won me jobs...including the 2003 Disney College Internship to Orlando, Florida! This may not work for everyone...but it will probably work for a lot of people.

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