Interview Preparation A to Z

It's a good idea to get some practice. When you prepare for an interview it's important not just to practice what you have to say, but how you say it. The best way to see how you appear to others is to practice in front of a mirror. You can also videotape yourself and ask friends for feedback. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you'll feel - and appear. Arrange a mock interview session with your friend and tell him to give honest feedback on how you look and sound. You can rehearse the details all you like, but you won't be able to disguise the facial reddening, sweating and toe curling. Remember whatever preparation you take, during the interview nothing can prevent the butterflies flying in your stomach, the dryness in your throat and the pounding of your heart. Most people have no idea how other people see them. They don't see their habitual expressions and they can't tell if their words are backed up by the tone of their voice and posture.

Remember one thing, no one is going to kill you. The worst thing that can happen is that you don't get the job. Take sensible precautions: wear something comfortable, leave yourself plenty of time to get there, use the toilet before you go in and ask for a glass of water in case your lips stick to your teeth (not from the Board Members but the Clerk or Receptionist!!!). A few quiet deep breathing exercises will make you look and feel less agitated.

Before going to the interview, visualize a successful interview. Just sit relaxed and imagine that you are confidently and calmly replying to all questions one after another. The idea is to make you feel more relaxed.

Don't predict that you'll be offered a job after just one interview, so you're probably going to have to go through the process all over again. During your long career, you'll face many more nerve-racking interviews, unless you opt to stay in the same job for life. The positive side is that you will get better at it - practice doesn't make perfect, but it helps. And comfort yourself with this thought: in a few years' time it might be you sitting on the other side of the desk and conducting interview sessions.

Days Before the Interview

You can start laying the groundwork for your salary negotiation even before the first interview. Here's a step-by-step guide:
  • Launch your preparation by finding out as much about the company as possible. Try to find the company's website (if any) which is likely to be full of background information, history and up-to-date news. Drop the information into conversation at your interview.
  • Prepare your 60-second personal statement: Your answer to the, "Tell me about yourself," question.
  • Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions. One way to do this is by mind mapping - write down a question that occurs to you and think about how you'd answer it positively. out whether I am suited to this position?"
  • List questions to ask the interviewer about the job, the company and the industry (Anything you want to know about us?)
    • "What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the role?"
    • "Is there a chance for promotion in the future?"
    • "Can you please tell me how the role relates to the overall structure of the organisation?"
    • "In what way is performance measured and reviewed?"
    • "What are the most important issues that you think your organisation will face?" or "You have recently introduced a new product/service/division/project; how will this benefit the organisation?"
    • "May I tell you a little more about my particular interest in communicating with clients/developing new ideas/implementing better systems?"
    • "Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?"

Before You Go to the Interview

  1. Do you look professional? Check yourself in the mirror; part of your confidence will come from looking good.
  2. Carry these items to the interview:
    • Several copies of your resume on quality paper.
    • A copy of your references.
    • A pad of paper on which to take notes (notes are optional).

Prepare answers to the most common interview questions:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you leave or are you leaving your last position?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • If you were the boss, what would you change about this company?

Upon Arrival

  1. Arrive early -- enter the building 10 minutes before your appointment. Start from your place with at least one hour in hand. Thanks to the terrible street jams of this city.
  2. Review your prepared stories and answers.
    The Recruitment Team's sole responsibility is to ensure that each interview serves a clearly defined and distinct purpose. A job-hunter has to face a testing of his intellectual capacity and management skills and personality. Think beforehand about the questions that are likely to come up.
  3. Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time.
  4. Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner.
  5. Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty -- not bone-crushing -- handshake.
  6. Smile and look into the interviewer's eyes.

Here's how to answer two of the deadliest interview questions.

1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What not to say:

Complete honesty is not advisable (admitting you have a drink problem won't win you any points). Say you have no weaknesses and you'll appear arrogant and devoid of self-awareness. And reciting a long, obviously prepared list of your admirable qualities won't do you any favors either.

What to say:

The interviewer is looking for someone who is realistic about his or her strengths and candid about his or her weaknesses. You need to come up with examples to back up your claims of strengths and be able to describe the actions you take to prevent your weaknesses from manifesting themselves. So, if for example, being disorganized is your problem, explain how you've learnt to make lists and prioritize.

2. What achievement are you most proud of?

What not to say:

Acting in a school drama might be your proudest moment. But the interviewer doesn't really want to know that. The general rule is: if it isn't a skill relevant to the job you're going for (or it portrays you in a bad light), leave it out.

What to say:

Think of something you achieved using skills you can transfer to the workplace. Have you ever worked under pressure to meet a deadline or organize an event? Or have you managed a budget, however tiny, either at university or during a job? Show off the skills you have. Save sentiment for your family members.

After the Interview

So now what will you do? Mutter prayers, silently weep with the feelings in your mind, "all are lost ", or have confidence about the next call-up and keep on applying to other prospective vacancies. By the way don't forget to write a follow-up thank-you letter, reminding the interviewer of your qualities.

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