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Preparing For Interview

It's important to remember, no matter how nervous you may be, that if you have been invited to interview, then the company is interested in you. Your CV and/ or letter of application will have given enough information for them to consider you as potentially suitable for the post advertised. Shena Parthab, director of Inter-Management recruitment agency, points out 'you have been invited to interview because the company wants to recruit people. It is not their intention to catch you out or embarrass you. The interviewer will be trying to assess your strong points and your suitability, motivation and attitude.'

Whilst these days, interviews are becoming more complex - panel and individual interviews, psychometric tests, presentations and the like - good preparation will be key. Find out as much about the day as possible. If you are not in contact with the company directly, a good recruitment agency will find out as much as they can. And if they are really worth their salt, they will be happy to give you advice, based on the feedback they may have received about you in previous interviews, and from their knowledge of their client.

In terms of the interview itself, make sure that you: research the company - what is its product/ service/ market? Plans for growth/ development? Anticipate some questions - why you want to work for the company, how you have contributed to your present company, what you regard as your particular abilities, what are your weaknesses, your expectations and career aspirations etc. Prepare some questions to ask, such as why the post became available, the company's expectations of the successful candidate. Remember, the interview is also for you to gather enough information to help you to decide if you want to work for this company.

It goes without saying that the interview starts the moment you enter the building. Of course what you say is important. But first impressions also hold sway, particularly in the early stages of the meeting. Conservative dress is the norm (unless entering the 'wacky' world of media and advertising), although, this is probably easier to define for men (suit, shirt and tie). For women, whilst a suit is also advised, the questions of a skirt versus trousers, skirt length, even how high your heels should be, needs to be considered. Oh, and no dangling earrings - they are distracting (no doubt particularly if the said earring is worn by a man).

Do consider your body language. Posture, eye contact and gestures help the interviewer to build up a picture of you. There are lots of self-help books on the market, as well as image consultants, who can advise on the dos and don'ts.

In terms of answering the questions at interview, above all, be honest. Be prepared to justify your answers with examples of past work. But do answer as positively as possible. Derogatory remarks and blame apportioned to present or previous employers do not go down well. Be forthcoming in your answers. There's nothing worse than someone who gives minimal answers. But on the other hand, don't go on ad nauseam - watch for signals from the interviewer. Don't be worried about pausing before you answer. A considered, thoughtful answer is much better than running headlong into a question and then find that you've got the wrong end of the stick, or you've dug a hole for yourself.

Whatever the outcome of the interview, do ask for a debriefing or feedback. Whilst you may have some idea of how it went, specific comments and observations from an objective source are invaluable for that next interview.