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6. The interview

A. Confirming the interview

Once you have received a reply letter inviting you for an interview you should confirm the interview date. Use the telephone to your advantage to also obtain the actual interviewers name. Don't be disappointed if you can't as this may not be always possible with large companies.

Be positive on the phone! Try to transmit confidence.
Before the phone call stand up and look at yourself in the mirror and smile - it can make a difference.

Start with "good morning" or "good afternoon" then your name. Always be courteous to the secretary that answers your call - It does count!

When speaking to the interviewer start with, "I received your letter with regard to the job interview on the (date) and I would like to confirm that I can attend". Discussion can occur but then conclude by thanking the organiser of the interview and that you look forward to meeting them on the interview date.

B. Preparing for the Interview

Know the Company

  • Obtain company literature, brochures company reports
  • Read articles around the company's market - what is happening, latest news
  • Identify company market position and competitors

The above will give you grounding for conversation in the interview.

Understand what is required

View the job in terms of requirements for:

  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Skills

Review the advertisement, which should once again highlight the job requirements.

Check your skills against the job requirements to identify your essential selling points.

Prepare for possible questions

At the interview it is likely that several predictable questions will be raised. Identify these and have answers prepared. Try to put yourself in the employer's position and make a list of questions you would ask.

It is important to rehearse your answers. However, do not repeat them in paraphrase fashion in the interview, as this will be obvious and unimpressive to the interviewer. Apply each answer to the question and the context it is asked. Remember that there is no single right answer.

Some possible questions follow:

  1. What attracted you to this job?
  2. What are your strong points?
  3. What are your weak points?
  4. Give me a reason why I should employ you?
  5. Can you work under pressure?
  6. Tell me about yourself
  7. Describe a difficult problem you had to deal with?
  8. What have you done that shows initiative?
  9. How long do you think it will take you to make a contribution to this company?
  10. What did you particularly like, and dislike about your previous job?
  11. What was your salary level in your last job and what do you expect from this job?
  12. Tell me about your biggest accomplishments
  13. Why should I employ you and not one of the other candidates?
  14. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?
  15. Are there any people that you do not get on with?
  16. How have you coped with this kind of person in the past?
  17. What are your career objectives?
  18. Why have you stayed in the same company for so long?
  19. Why do you want to join this organisation?
  20. Why are you redundant? Why were you chosen?
  21. What were the main problem areas of your last job?
  22. Why did you leave your last job?
  23. What were your main responsibilities?
  24. If you were to get this job what would be your first action upon starting?

Prepare your questions for the interviewer

It is usual for the interviewer to ask you if you have any questions.

In general, keep your questions brief and to the point, avoiding complicated questions that can lead to discussion.

Here is a list of potential questions to ask:

  1. What are the main responsibilities of the job?
  2. What are the particular problem areas of the job you expect to be resolved?
  3. Why is the position open?
  4. How is job performance evaluated?
  5. What is the company policy on promotion?
  6. What type training is provisioned on joined and for my future development?
  7. Has the company made up plans for expansion and how would the department and I fit in with these?
  8. To whom will I be responsible?
  9. How many staff will I be responsible for?
  10. What opportunities exist to participate in management decision making?
  11. Can you show me around the department that I will be working in?

If you are informed that you will have to set some tests, they will most likely be psychometric tests. You can find out more about psychometric tests in the next section.