How to succeed at job interviews

People make some terrible mistakes at interviews. And sadly, the first impressions are often the time for make or break. No wonder so many people dread the thought of going for a job and setting themselves up for failure.

But there are some important things to get right:

1. Prepare a good CV
Make sure it is easy to read, well laid out, covers education, key skills and expertise, previous jobs and key achievements, and any other relevant professional experience. Make sure you have up-to-date referees who will talk positively about you and have agreed to be a referee and are available on the number you provide. Avoid being longwinded. Use bullet points and make sure the skills leap out. Read it as if you are the person doing the hiring, and ask one or two friends or experienced people to read it first.

2. Write a motivating covering letter
This should be short (maximum of one page), passionate, interesting and must stand alone if separated from CV. So cleverly summarise your key selling points.

3. Be on time and dress well for the interview
Judgements are made in an instant. Look smart, tidy, professional and if in doubt, dress a notch higher than you think you need. Allow extra time to find the place and relax before you go in rather then being stressed by being late.

4. Show enthusiasm and energy
The impact a person makes is mainly though their body language and tone. Maintain great eye contact and a positive facial expression. Some people have a resting position that looks sad, tired, confused, nervous or even angry. If people often ask you “What’s wrong?” or “Are you okay?” or “You seem…” you may be one of those people that has to LEARN to look happy in those moments of concentration.

Body language and tone of voice account for MOST of the impression you make! Many people are subdued by an interview and don’t show themselves or “shine” in an interview. They speak in a flat voice with little or not enthusiasm. If this is you be careful, as you may get judged as boring.

Put your mind into a frame of happiness, enthusiasm and think of great reasons why you would love to work in this job. Tell the interviewer and use positive words. And if you are having to fake it – consider doing some work on your career to REALLY find out what might suit you.

5. Sell yourself
Learn the art of combining your strengths into an understatement – a subtle demonstration of confidence, skills and knowledge. People usually want to know how good you are but may react against someone who projects a high ego and arrogance. Make sure you refer to actual examples of challenges you faced and succeeded with.

Give examples of relevant achievements. Talk about your achievements relevant to the position. Have examples prepared: focus on how you increased revenue, decreased expenses, improved morale, etc. Be specific, support your claims with numerical estimates if possible, and describe how you achieved your goal, your methods, choice of actions, etc.

6. Ask impressive questions
People who ask great questions are impressive. Show interest and intelligence through your questions. Do the groundwork so your questions relate to the business and show your depth of understanding. Ask some genuine questions to find out more about the business. Use some “I have noticed/wondered…” questions to show what you know.

This shows that you’ve put time and effort into considering the role which signals how interested you really are in the opportunity.
Don’t say “No not really” when asked if you have any questions. If you’ve seriously considered the role, you’ll have more questions than time to ask them.

7. Avoid negativity
A big turn off is hearing someone bagging a past employer, or complaining about conditions on a past job. Maintain a positive disposition, especially where past employers are concerned. It is unprofessional to overly criticise past employers, no matter what the circumstances of your departure were. The interviewer may extrapolate to future behaviours!

8. End confidently
Remain positive and friendly. As you walk out tell them something interesting not just a meek goodbye. Be smart and memorable. Be direct and ask the interviewer whether your skills meet their needs. Ask what the interview process is from here and offer to do a work test or present to more people.

Thank the interviewer(s) for their time, proactively shake hands and maintain eye contact and look pleased, not nervous!

Eve Ash has produced the bests selling JOB INTERVIEW SUCCESS SERIES and hundreds of DVDs to help people develop skills in all aspects of their work. Eve is working with the WORKLIFE GROUP who have an online toolkit to help everyone manage their career an improve their chances of success.

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