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Your CV has secured you another chance to present yourself, so the next stage is managing the interview process.

Be clear about your objectives for the interview and prepare well in advance with all the answers you think you’ll be asked on the day. Good preparation and planning are keys to success in most things.


Your CV has got you through the door, now it’s down to you to sell your skills, experience and personality. It is often said that the interviewer makes up their mind within 30 seconds of you walking through the door and then spends the rest of the interview justifying that decision.

Invest time to strengthen a known weakness, remember to be average is easy; to be good or above average takes some effort.

Write down the location, time, name of interviewer and take them with you for reference if necessary. You will be surprised to know that quite a number of people miss the interview, turn up late or arrive at the wrong location because they have not properly noted the details. Make sure you have a detailed map and turn up early. If you plan to arrive on time, then you will plan to arrive late.

Organisation information

In many cases information will be provided but take a look online for anything extra, or as a last resort, obtaining company brochures or account details.

Making an impression

You only get one chance to make a first impression and it often sets the tone for the whole interview. Behavioural psychologists call it the ‘halo (or horns) effect’. So:

  • Dress code: Make sure that your appearance is clean, smart and business-like, even if the company has a dress down policy.
  • Be alert: Smile and try to relax as soon as possible.
  • Maintain eye contact: Throughout the process, but break your gaze away when starting to formulate your answer. It shows you’re thinking carefully.

Try to avoid any irritating mannerisms, ie, playing with a pen, tapping on the desk, chewing gum, swinging about in your chair etc.

Answering difficult questions

Try to anticipate the less obvious questions you may be asked about your skills and achievements and reinforce your replies by giving tangible examples. If you need a moment to think about your response, do not be afraid to respond with ‘that’s a very interesting question, I would like a moment to think about that’, or ask the question to be repeated, then answer the question as directly as possible.

The idea is to try and impart as much information as you can about what you have done and how you can contribute, so make sure that you have quantifiable evidence to back up your answers.

Interview checklist

  • Plan and prepare well.
  • You only have a limited time to demonstrate your skills and personal qualities, so make good use if it.
  • Use the same powerful, precise and concise wording in your responses as you put in your CV.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Be concise in your response and do not digress as there is nothing more irritating than listening to a mass of waffle or unnecessary detail.
  • Be prepared with questions of your own. It will show you are genuinely interested in the post.
  • Remember the interview is a two-way street. They have to convince you they’re a great organisation to work for.
  • At the end of the interview, ask if there is anything else they need to know, or that you have not covered properly.
  • Ask what the next step is in the recruitment process for the post.
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