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How to make sure you are sitting pretty in the dreaded job interview

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The labour market changes, job descriptions change and job search techniques change. However, one thing has remained consistent- the job interview. It is in essence a pitch, a chance to sell yourself and the first 30 seconds can be the most important – to be a cut above the rest you need to be on the ball.

Whilst finding the right job can often prove stressful it is always possible to take confidence from every small victory.  In today’s competitive job market even an invitation to attend an interview means you’re a strong candidate. However, you still have to prove you can do the job, and that you’ll fit in with the company culture and other employees. This is where practising interview technique can pay dividends. Across sectors one of the least thought of and often under practiced skills is that of preparing effectively for interview. Thankfully this is a skill that stays with you and will remain relevant throughout your career.

How do employers approach interviews?

An interview can be a daunting enough prospect and Cpl’s recent Employment Monitor survey found many employers are now changing tactics when they evaluate candidates.  The important role social media now plays in recruitment is an example of this shift and not to be underestimated. Whist our survey found that half of employers are banning social media in the workplace you can be assured increasing number of employers are reviewing any candidates using social media.  Ensure any social media presence you have is both appropriate and appealing.

In addition, Cpl’s survey found that 60% of interviewers now like to throw curve balls at their prospective employees. Questions that aim to test your response and thinking patterns. Most famously perhaps are the ‘Google Questions’ a series of questions used by Google to check how logical you really are.   These questions aim to confuse, both with their deceptive simplicity such as ‘why are manhole covers round?’, and their demand for logical thinking such as ‘how many golf balls can you fit in a school bus?’ Whilst difficult, getting the correct answer isn’t necessarily everything. As long as you show an ability to understand the question and can logically think about the answer you are on the right tracks.  Whilst by their very nature you can’t always prepare for a curve ball there are certain things you must do to give yourself a fighting chance in an interview.

How do you succeed at interviews?

1. Research Effectively

You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework on things like the company’s profits from the previous year and latest products. Also take a look at the most recent developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence.

2. Dress to Impress

Appearances shouldn’t matter, but the fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even said a word. Make sure your shoes are polished, you’re dressed appropriately. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.

3. Practice Responses

Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you have the right skills for the job. Our survey found that for many employers practical experience is vital and they expect students to have gained some. Reflect on any relevant experience you have had and be ready to speak about how this has translated into skills which you can bring to the job.

4. Stay calm

Good preparation is the key to staying in control. Plan your route, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays and get everything you need to take with you ready the night before. Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people!

5. Appear interested

96% of employers in Cpl’s recent survey stated that attitude trumps skills in their search for a candidate. Asking questions is a great way to display a positive attitude and remember interviews are a two-way street: you’re evaluating the interviewer and they’re evaluating you. You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of four questions, some which will give you more information about the job and some which explore deeper into the culture and goals of the company.

Ready for your next interview?

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