HOW TO SUCCEED AT AN INTERVIEW
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SKILLS FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
The interview is a notoriously unreliable selection tool, yet it is has been consistently rated in the top two most commonly used (the other being reference checks!) for recruiting and promotion. Throughout your career you are going to encounter interviews so it is essential to think about how you can succeed at interview. Here are some basic pointers.
Purpose of interviews
The basic purpose of an interview is to get evidence that an individual will be successful in the available position. Evidence is gained by asking, you the candidate, about various aspects of your career to date, your circumstances and future plans. For a good interviewer evidence is directly related to the job description, either through desired behaviour or technical ability. Feelings, intuitions or golf club membership should not come into it but invariably it does.
Interviewers should try to eliminate factors such as attractiveness from their decisions, but it is simply impossible not to be influenced by your appearance to some extent. A general rule of thumb is to stick to more formal business attire even for creative positions. Be neat even if you are not expensively or fashionably dressed. Even if the company has a casual dress code, being more formal than the interviewer will put you at ease and is not nearly as bad as being more casual!
A lot can be revealed by your body language, and you can use body language to your advantage. Sit upright and alert keeping an open posture, that is, face people when you speak to them as far as you can and don't cross your arms in front of you or hide behind a folder. Eye contact is essential and often difficult to maintain. A very useful trick is to use the triangle technique. Focus on one eye, then very briefly on the forehead then on the other eye. This gives your own eyes a rest from focusing on one position for a long time, and gives the impression of a more relaxed confident attentiveness rather than the fixed stare of a startled bunny!
Before you go to an interview ensure you have done your homework on the company and the position on offer. Displaying knowledge of the company at the interview proves you have a real interest and are to be taken seriously. Being able to relate your previous experience to the position on offer in the interview reinforces the impression that you can actually do the job. It will also be an added boost to your confidence going in to an interview if you know you have prepared well. Preparation can also help you decide whether you really want the job at all and provide material for the inevitable finale "Have you any questions to ask us?"
Types of Questions
The interviewer should ask questions that allow you to either display specific required knowledge or demonstrate the behavioural evidence they are looking for. You should take advantage of the opportunities presented regardless of the skill of the interviewer. If you are asked a broad question like "Would you say you were a good team player?" be sure you use the opportunity to expand on what you feel are your strengths in a team. Use evidence to back up your strengths. The answer could be - "Yes, I have worked in many teams with different dynamics. My particular strength is in ensuring that the project work is evenly spread out and progressing well. For example when I…" The opening statement demonstrates what you have to offer. The example at the end is the evidence that a good interviewer is looking for to help a decision about someone. Anyone can say they are a good team player. Not everyone can demonstrate it with consistent examples.
Use the opportunity to sell yourself and to find out if it is the sort of place that you want to work. Ask the interviewer directly about his or her experience of the company. Always end on a positive such as "I think I have learned a lot about your company and would like to thank you for your time".
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