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How to prepare for the Job Interview. PDF Print E-mail

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  1. Find out as much as possible about the company / organisation, the position and the interviewer beforehand
  2. First Impressions are critical and are based on your appearance
  3. Dress appropriately - conservative is always the safest
  4. Switch Off your Cell Phone
  5. Do Not be Late
  6. Maintain Good Eye Contact
  7. Remember interviewers’ names
  8. Remember your Body Language - Voice, Eyes, Posture and Overall Attitude
  9. Be interested in the job

Points to Ponder

  1. Always be honest as experienced interviewers are seasoned in discovering lies
  2. It is important to sell yourself to the interviewer and to come across confidently, however guard against over-confidence
  3. During the interview it is important to be interested and enthusiastic about the position
  4. Show that you are willing to accept any extra work
  5. Answer questions with more than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ – use examples and offer explanations wherever possible
  6. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions. If you don’t understand the question, ask him / her to repeat it
  7. When answering a question, observe the employer’s reaction to your answer
  8. If asked to list strengths / positive characteristics, it is important to show how they will be of benefit in the job
  9. Be assertive but don’t be overbearing as the interviewer may feel threatened
  10. Loyalty is an important characteristic to show the interviewer
  11. Never speak badly of previous employers
  12. When asked about your reasons for leaving a company, it is very important never to blame or criticise
  13. All companies look for team players that are able to work autonomously and independently when necessary
  14. It is very important to prepare questions before hand about the job and the company
  15. Display a positive attitude towards the company, job market, country, political future, the position and to your life

The Interview By preparing for the interview ahead of time and recalling your past successes, you will be able to have examples in mind and will not be caught off guard. There is no way you can predict what the interviewer is going to ask you, but you can prepare what you want him or her to know about your past as a predictor of your future performance.

  1. When asked questions, always back up an answer with pertinent examples or reasons, don't just say "yes" or "no."
  2. Interviews are the time to sell what you have accomplished, not simply to tell what you’ve done
  3. Turn Every Negative into a Positive. Don’t simply say you don’t know it. Instead, use related experiences
  4. Big to Little. Use the big-to-little strategy to organize your thoughts and to respond seamlessly
  5. Take the Initiative to introduce topics of special significance
  6. Through examples, demonstrate that you have succeeded in certain areas of interest and talk about your accomplishments
  7. Your success stories should include the situation, the action you took and the results

Salary The best way to answer this question is “My current package is X and I get (discuss benefits, commissions and when your next increases is)” and then say, ‘from what we have discussed, this opportunity is really something I see as challenging (substantiate). I am certain that your organisation would make me an offer which is fair and market related, in which case I would be very keen to consider it.’ It is best not to discuss certain topics until second stage interviews such as working hours, overtime, benefits etc. unless the employer brings up the subject.
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Questions to ask in the interview

  • What is the reason for the vacancy?
  • To whom would I report?
  • What type of training is required, and how long is it?
  • What are the realistic chances for growth in the job?
  • What are the skills and attributes most needed to get on in the company?
  • How did the company master the last/current recession?
  • What has been the growth pattern of the company over the last five years: Is it profitable? How profitable?
  • How regularly do performance appraisals occur? What model do they follow?
  • Who are my colleagues/team I am working with?
  • What is the job's relationship to other departments?
  • How do the job and the department relate to corporate aim?
  • What is the major importance of the position?
  • What is the objective of the organisation in general?
  • What are the biggest challenges in this position?

Questions for more senior positions

  • What is the background of the company?
  • What is the organisation structure of the company?
  • What is the organisation structure of the division I would be joining?
  • What is the turnover? (for positions in Financial Management)
  • How did the recession affect your company?
  • What was your company's growth pattern over the last few years?
  • What is the market share of your company?
  • What is your corporate culture?
  • What is the company's management style?
  • What computer system do you use? Software?

Towards the end of the interview

  • When asked about your interest in the position, answer in the affirmative - even if you have some doubts
  • Never decline a job offer immediately. There might be room for negotiation
  • If you want the job, show enthusiasm all the time
  • Accept immediately if you like the offer
  • Last impressions are almost as important as first impressions.

After the Interview An excellent follow-up entails writing a short note or email to the interviewer the next day, thanking her or him for the interview, highlighting important issues that arose and putting forward suggestions if appropriate. The point of this is that the next day when the employer is considering all the candidates, the person who sent the note / email is likely to stand out. Probably none of the other candidates will have sent a note / email. Alternatively, if the interview has been arranged through an employment agency, contact your recruitment consultant immediately to provide him/her with feedback and to express your interest in the position. Your consultant will provide feedback to the recruiter and will mention your particular interest in the vacancy.

Good luck.

Prepared by CV People Africa a recruitment specialist for Africa and its Diaspora.

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