You have got the qualifications, the experience and the raw talent. You flew through the initial stages of the application process, and now it’s your time to shine at the interview.

Unfortunately, the other 99 candidates have exactly the same credentials as you. Remember, whilst this interview might be an important opportunity for you, they will most likely be interviewing a large number of other candidates back to back. It is up to you to stand out. Here is your step-by-step guide through the interview process.

The Week Before…

Do your research! If you can’t prove your passion for the company at interview stage, then how can you seem like the right person to work there long-term? Find out as much as possible about the company: it is crucial to be aware of their aims, their values, and their market. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to find this information out, thanks to the social-networking. Follow the company, as well as its senior members of staff, on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as the more obvious research like checking out their web pages.

It is also helpful to practice some potential interview questions. Granted, it is likely that your interviewee might throw a curve ball your way at some point, but it is equally likely that you will be asked one of the following:

-Why do you want this role?
-What are your strengths/weaknesses?
-Why did you leave your last job?
-What is your greatest achievement?
-Tell me about a time you handled a difficult situation.
-What motivates you?
-How do you handle pressure?

The Night Before…

Failure to prepare is preparation to failure. It is important that you are equipped with any necessary paperwork: your CV, your cover letter, and any further examples of your work, even if you have already sent them to your interviewer electronically. Be sure to bring at least four copies of each, just in case you are unexpectedly interviewed by a panel. A notepad and a couple of working pens are also essential. Prepare your outfit and make sure that it is freshly washed and ironed in preparation for your big day. Make sure you keep to the company dress code- it is a good idea to ask about this beforehand. Having said this, it is also a good idea to have a stand out aspect to your outfit to make sure that you are memorable: a brightly coloured shirt, dress or even something as simple as stand-out cufflinks. Just avoid turning up with a mohawk.

The Morning Before…

Leave enough time. And then some. Being late is the ultimate interview faux pas. It will automatically mark you as ‘unreliable’ in the mind of your interviewer, and they will feel reluctant to give you a chance over someone who didn’t waste their time. In the fortunate circumstance that you DO make it there on time, you will feel much better if you have ten minutes to relax beforehand. During these ten minutes, there are a number of last minute preparations you can do. Do a few breathing exercises: to keep it as simple aspossible, breathe in slowly through your nose for four seconds, keeping your shoulders down, then out for seven seconds. Take a few sips of water. Check your appearance: do you look as ‘put together’ as you would want to?

If you are waiting with other candidates, be sure to act friendly towards them. As well as eliminating any negative vibes, this will also help to relax you before your interview. Just don’t let the conversation turn to competitive talk of your qualifications or experience; this is likely to have the opposite effect.

During The Interview

Don’t be afraid to take some time to think. Yes, you may have practised some answers to key questions, but you need to ensure that you listen carefully to every question: it might not be exactly what you expect. The ability to listen and take guidance is just as important as the answers you provide.

Maintain good posture. Sit up straight and keep your head high. Look your interviewer in the eye. Looking away might make you look particularly shy or untrustworthy, neither of which are employable traits. Talk with your hands. People who gesticulate while they talk seem more confident, assertive, and intelligent. This is different from fidgeting, which makes you look nervous; if you feel yourself doing this, make an effort to rest your arms at your sides. Speak slowly and clearly. This is very important to maintain, especially if you are feeling at all stressed and anxious. If you feel yourself speeding up, take a deep breath and resume speaking. Enjoy yourself. Try to see this interview as more of a chance to prove yourself, rather than a trap. There are no impossible questions.

After The Interview

After a lot of interviews, it is standard procedure to give the interviewee a turn to ask their own question. This isn’t your time to leap in with a query about medical benefits, nor should it be a moment of silent celebration that the whole ordeal is over. The ultimate thing you can do at this opportunity is to confidently ask the interviewer the following question:

‘Is there anything about my application that concerns you?’

As well as displaying humility and self-awareness, this also gives you an opportunity to explain yourself for any shortcomings with your application. It could be the difference between you getting the job or not.

And If It All Goes Wrong…

Ask for feedback. Everyone experiences failure at some point and the only positive way to react is to learn from it. If you can pinpoint what you did wrong this time, you’ll avoid repeating the mistake at your next interview. And better luck next time!

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