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Hoorah, you’ve secured your interview for your dream job and now it’s time to swot up for the interview.

From creating a good first impression, to thinking about the types of questions you will asked and remaining cool and collected during the interview, here’s some advice to help you successfully navigate interview day.

First impressions count

Follow these ten top tips and ensure you make a great first impression.

  1. Dress for the part
  2. Have everything neat, organized, and accessible – consider taking a portfolio
  3. Arrive on time, but not too early (10-15 minutes is ideal)
  4. Smile
  5. Treat everyone you meet with respect – including the receptionist
  6. Enter the room confidently
  7. Give a firm handshake
  8. Get your interviewer’s name right
  9. Make eye contact when you’re speaking
  10. Before the interview, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. This will help you manage any feelings of anxiety and will encourage greater self-confidence.

The burning questions

When it comes to the type of questions you will be asked, you should remember the company have decided about the kind of person they are looking for. They want individuals to have certain behaviours and characteristics so they will fit well with the company and the people who work there.

They have seen your CV and offered you an interview, so they want to meet you and they want you to be the person they are looking for. You need to think about the different types of questions and then plan how you can not only answer the question but give some real examples to demonstrate your knowledge further.

All throughout the interview you need to make a good impression. Being prepared will go a long way in making that good impression, as it will stand out that you are serious about the job and that you have given it plenty of thought.

Here’s some questions you may be asked:

  • Tell us why you have applied for this position
  • What is it that interests you in working for this company/in this job role?
  • What do you think we are looking for in an employee?
  • Can you give an example of when you have had to work independently and used your initiative either through study or work?
  • Can you tell us giving us an example of how you cope under pressure and in stressful situations?
  • Can you give an example of when you have had to deal with a difficult situation either in work, life or school, and how you managed it?
  • Can you tell us about something new that you have learned in the last six months and what you have gained from it?
  • Where do you see yourself in three-five years’ time?
  • This job will involve working with a range of computer systems; tell us a little about any you have used and what for.
  • Give us an example of a piece of work you have been involved in and how you managed the work load.
  • We’re going to give you a scenario; You receive a call from someone who is unhappy/aggressive. How would you deal with it?
  • What kind of skills do you have that you can bring to this job? (can be from school, at home and work experience).
  • If you were having problems in the workplace, what would you do?
  • What do you think the benefits are of working in a team?
  • Is there anything we haven’t asked you that you would like to tell us about yourself to support your application?

The answers will depend on your experiences to date. Many of the questions are asking you to give examples. A good way to practice is to write all your example answers below the above questions and then you can think of more than one example.

Keep calm and carry on

Just as important as preparing for your interview, you need to ensure you present your best self during the interview.  Here’s some top tips to help you keep your cool and present a professional image.

  1. Be enthusiastic – put some energy into your answers and questions.
  2. Don’t spend too much time on a question – stick to the main points.
  3. When asked about your previous experiences you should describe the situation you encountered, what you did in that situation and how it turned out – focus on positives.
  4. Avoid irrelevant topics – focus on the questions that the interviewer asks.
  5. Speak clearly and loudly enough for the interviewer to hear and understand you. Stay professional and do not use bad language or slang words.
  6. It is fine to ask for a little time to answer the question, if you need to pause to think it through that is okay.
  7. You can ask them to repeat the question if you haven’t understood it.
  8. Try and relax and stay calm throughout the interview.

Prepare smart questions

At the end of the interview it is common for the interviewer to ask you if you have any questions. This is just as important a part of the interview to get right and a lot of candidates do not prepare for this, so it’s great opportunity for you to shine! It shows you are taking an active interest in their company and you are willing to learn more about the job that you have applied for.  If you don’t ask questions you may well come across as disinterested or unprepared.

Below are some questions you could ask, but, don’t ask them all! The interviewer will not have time to answer them.

  • What will my day-to-day duties include? You can refer to the job description and ask them to give you more details about what happens day-to-day.
  • Who would I report to?
  • What can you tell me about the team I will be joining?
  • Will there be any internal training?
  • What is the next step in this process?
  • You can ask questions about the decision timeline for the position.
  • Whether I am successful or not with this application, what feedback will I receive from you following on from my interview today?
  • Can you describe the ideal employee for your organisation?
  • What do the best team members do that sets them apart from others?
  • What do you enjoy about your job?

Be careful when selecting your questions. Some of them may have been covered during the interview, so you need to choose carefully, or you risk looking like you were not listening.

The final word

This is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd and demonstrate how professional you are. Why not send a short follow-up email after your interview? You can say you enjoyed meeting them and the interview. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to come for an interview, reinstating your interest in the role and that you look forward to hearing from them in due course.

Best of luck!