Many well qualified and extremely able candidates fail at job interviews simply because they are unaware of the conventions of the job interview and the expectations of the interviewer.
Successful candidates, on the other hand, manage to impress prospective employers precisely because they know how to present themselves.
Thus, they study the job advertisement; they analyse what is required in the way of skills qualifications and experience; they assess their own suitability for the job; and finally, they present themselves in a thoughtful and carefully prepared manner.
Their written applications are comprehensive and business-like, containing all the relevant information presented neatly and concisely.They prepare themselves carefully for interview, anticipating likely questions and rehearsing their responses. They study the structure of the interview and devise a strategy to satisfy the interviewer's requirements. In short, they prepare themselves to succeed.
Let us begin by giving some general advice to candidates who are considering the daunting prospect of an interview. As a candidate, you should be able to express yourself with clarity and precision. To do this, you must make adequate preparation, anticipating likely questions and rehearsing your responses. However, this does not mean that you should learn your responses by heart.
To do so would make you sound unnatural. Your answers should appear spontaneous. At the same time, you should come across as thoughtful, articulate and coherent. So preparation is essential.
During the interview you should speak confidently, making sure to support your answers with relevant examples from your work experience. Sometimes the questions might not be wide-ranging enough to enable you to present your case as fully and convincingly as you would wish. In such circumstances, it is up to you to take the initiative and acquaint the interviewer with whatever information you consider to be important in advancing your claims to the job on offer. Remember, it is up to you to sell yourself.
Always relate your answers to the job for which you are applying. This is particularly important in the case of candidates who are faced with the sort of indirect questions favoured by many interviewers. For example, the interviewer may ask you to describe your current job. This is an indirect way of asking you to what extent your present skills and experience relate to the job for which you are applying.
Always present a positive face. Having studied your application form, interviewers will have identified the weaker aspects of your case. They will often use such material to build up a negative impression of you. So it is in your own best interests to examine your application critically with a view to identifying any weaknesses or negative aspects which the interviewer might spot. Having identified such negative aspects, you should be ready to answer tricky questions by preparing positive answers.
Since interviewers are looking for candidates who display a positive attitude, you should state that you enjoy your job; that you are enthusiastic and ambitious; and that you welcome challenge.
It is important to tell the truth in interviews. However, try to present the facts as persuasively as you can. It would be pointless and self-defeating to reveal negative facts which are largely irrelevant and which only serve to highlight weaknesses in your case. So examine and assess your own case and tailor the facts to give the best and most positive impression.
It is essential to develop a rapport with the interviewer. If you can give the impression that you are in agreement or have something in common with the interviewer and if the interviewer takes a liking to you, you are off to a great start. So be pleasant and agreeable.
On the other hand, it would be a grave mistake to appear as a grovelling 'yes' man or woman. Discretion should be your watch-word in this as in other areas.
Interviewers usually place a greater emphasis on experience than on paper qualifications, so it is up to you to convince them that your experience qualifies you for the job on offer. This will involve using your experience as evidence to support statements that you make in answers to questions.
Now to sum up: here are the success secrets known understood and applied by thousands of successful job interviewees.
1. Make adequate preparation to enable you to express yourself fluently in the interview situation.
2. Be confident but try not to sound conceited: use examples to support your answers.
3. Make sure to acquaint the interviewer with all the relevant information in support of your case.
4. Relate all your answers to the job for which you are applying.
5. Look out for indirect questions and know how to cope with them.
6. Concentrate on the positive aspects of your case and be ready to deal with questions relating to any negative aspects.
7. Do not tell lies but tailor the truth in order to present a positive impression of yourself.
8. Determine to establish a rapport with the interviewer right from the start.
9. Convince the interviewer that your experience entitles you to the job.
Gerard McLoughlin, author of 'Four Minutes To Interview Success', has contributed career-related articles to hundreds of recruitment companies, websites and publications throughout the world, including: USA Today, JobBankUSA.com, US-Recruiters.com, etc. http://www.assignmentsplus.com/