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Land Your Dream Job!

Do interviews fill you with dread? Do you know you could do the job if only you could get through the interview? Do you feel like you are missing great opportunities because of interview nerves?

You're certainly not alone but that isn't much consolation.

Chances are the person interviewing you will do a biographical interview (What was your greatest achievement in that role? Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others? When you fail to reach a target how do you deal with it?) or a competency based interview (Describe a situation when you were able to use persuasion to convince someone to see things your way? Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and achieved it? Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last 12 months?) or a combination of the two.

A biographical interview will go through your CV asking questions about your previous roles whilst a competency based interview will focus on the skills you will need to be able to the job you've applied for and your achievements to date. You probably won't know which until you get there so prepare for both.

Before the interview

Research as much as possible about the company and the interviewer's background. You want to be knowledgeable about the company's history, it's products/services, culture, clients (actual and/or target) as well as their competitors. The company website will be a great place to start but you can also find out lots of information by googling the product or service they sell.

Make sure you know exactly where you are going. If you are at all unsure, check it out the day before and allow time for any delays on the way. There is nothing worse, and nothing more stressful, than driving round aimlessly looking for a building on an industrial estate when you are should be sat calmly in reception gathering your thoughts! We all know because we've all done it but definitely one to avoid at all costs!

Check that you know who you are meant to be meeting and their job title. Take the company's telephone number with you in case of any emergency.

Read and re-read the job description and think about how your experiences match the requirements of the role. On your own practice saying out loud what you have done in previous roles that reflects the job description. If there is something you haven't done, research it and what you would need to do to learn that skill - again Google is a marvelous resource and so much can be self-taught these days because of it. If self-teaching is out of the question have a plan of what you would need to do in case you are asked about it. By being prepared you will come across as confident and easily adaptable.

There's a 99% chance you will be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the interview so prepare for this as well.

Resist the temptation to ask about salary or benefits, you will get the opportunity to ask those questions if (when!) you are offered the role. Instead think of questions that suggest you've done your research such as "I see on your website you have a new contract with XXXX, is this a sector you hope to work more with in the future." Alternatively ask about things like progression opportunities or training they would expect you to undertake. Or the make up of the department you would be going into or what your first priorities would be if successful.

Finally, think about what you will wear. Whatever the type of the role and however casual the dress code might be if you get the job, you want to make a great first impression at your interview so always dress in smart formal business clothes.

The Interview

So you've made it through the all that prep, you still want the job (hopefully even more now you've researched the company) and it's finally time for the all important interview.

DON'T BE LATE! Try to arrive 10 - 15 minutes early, you will impress no-one by being late and, chances are, you will be stressed so won't perform as well in your interview. Speak to the reception and make conversation if they aren't too busy, you'd be amazed how often the receptionist is asked what they thought of the candidates!

Shake the interviewer's hand firmly, SMILE and make eye contact. Walk confidently to give the impression of having energy and enthusiasm. If you are being interviewed by more than one person, make sure you focus on the person who asked the question when you reply but glance at and make eye contact with the other(s) as well.

It's ok to give yourself time to think before you answer a question or even to ask for it to be repeated. Try to stick to the point and not go off at a tangent when answering a question and don't be afraid to be yourself, after all that is who they will be employing. Make sure the interviewer understands the skills and experience you have to offer, they aren't a mind reader!

Never lie in an interview. If you don't know the answer, admit it but showing a willingness to learn.

After the interview

Thank the interviewer(s) for seeing you and express your interest in the role again.

Shake their hand firmly again, calling them by their name. A little "I look forward to hearing from you" never goes amiss either.

If you have their email address it is worth dropping them a quick email when you get home to thank them again for seeing you and to express again how interested you are in the role, being specific if you can, for example "I really like the idea of working as part of such a small team."

Good luck! Would be great to hear how you get on using these techniques!

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