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Careers
Interview Preparation


The short time you spend at a job interview could have a dramatic effect on your career prospects. It is therefore important that you perform well because no matter how good your career record is to date, the employment interview remains an important step towards fulfilment of your ambitions.


The secret of success lies in preparation so it's worth spending some time doing your homework to make it a positive experience.


Good employers understand the pitfalls of interviewing, such as the tendency for people to recruit in their own image, and the process is gradually becoming more structured, sophisticated and fairer. In fact, in some sectors the interview has been enhanced almost beyond recognition, where potential employers require jobseekers to sing, dance or even cook in order to assess applicants better!


Preparation



At the interview


Do:



Don't:



Handling interview questions


Job interviews may be nerve-wracking enough without tricky questions to trip you up. It's important to remember that the interviewing process is about evaluating your ability to do the job. Challenging questions will allow the interviewer to see how you think on your feet and cope with stress.



Examples of interviewers' favourite questions:




Competency Based Interview


The idea behind a competency is to make the interview objective. In this style of interview you are required to discuss relevant examples of things that you have actually done, rather than theorise about what you may do in a given situation.

One of the most important things to remember with this type of approach is that the interviewer can only score you on what you verbalise. They cannot score you based upon what they think that you know. The key here is not to be afraid to talk from a very basic level up. Competency based questions tend to work in the following way:


With the detail that you need to get across you need to pick fairly large examples so that you can drill down into detail. If a situation is very basic you will not have much information to delve into. It is a good idea to have thought through your examples before you go into the meeting. It is very common that people who haven't prepared come out of the interview saying: "I wish I had talked about this example" or "I wish I had given more detail".


Your Questions


Prepare some questions to ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a 'two-way street': the employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the necessary qualifications to do the job and

similarly, you must determine through your questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek. Probing questions you might ask:



Closing the Interview



After the interview Do:



Interview feedback


Good employers are increasingly geared up to provide interview feedback. However, even reticent employers now have to hand over any notes taken during interviews to applicants, thanks to a code of practice under the Data Protection Act introduced in February 2002. Previous legislation meant that applicants could see their interview notes only if they were making a complaint against the employer. Job applicants and employees can write to the organisation holding the information, although sometimes a £10 fee will be charged.