How to prepare for a job interview
Also featured in September online edition of ComputerLanguageWriting paper-li run by Vanessa Vaile.
Going for an interview is highly stressful for most people. You can prepare yourself in advance to eliminate some of the stress and feel more confident. Always be on time or a little early. This is your chance to impress your potential employer and to secure a job as a result. During the interview you will be asked various questions. Usually these can be divided into these four categories; (1) questions about your past employment, (2) questions about yourself, (3) questions relevant to the company position for which you are applying, (4) questions about your future plans. Always anticipate what questions you’ll be asked and prepare some answers in advance. Make sure you know your employment history without looking at your CV.
WHAT ARE THE COMMONLY DISCUSSED TOPICS
Reasons for applying for the position
Summary of your working experience
Summary of your achievements
Describing your strengths and weaknesses
Do you work well under pressure, independently, as part of a team
What did you like and dislike about your previous position
Why did you leave or want to leave your previous/current employment
Describing a specific problem solving situation at work and how you would handle it
What can you offer in relevance to the position or to the company in terms of skills
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time, describe your future goals and aspirations
Click here for more questions and answers
HOW TO ANSWER INAPPROPRIATE or ILLEGAL QUESTIONS
Employer will ask you various questions to find out more about you and whether you are suitable for the position. However, there are questions that the employer should NOT ask and you are therefore NOT obliged to answer them. If you feel you are being asked inappropriate questions that make you feel uncomfortable, it might be in your best interest to end the interview as you probably wouldn’t want to work for that employer anyway.
×Questions regarding your age or your date of birth
If they ask you this directly you do not have to answer you may just say for example “I believe my age is irrelevant to the skills and experience I can offer to your company”
×Questions about your sexuality, religion, race, nationality
Interviewer cannot ask directly what nationality you are or where were you born. They can easily find out from your passport but should not ask you directly
×Questions about disability and physical attributes
such as height and weight unless it is a specific requirement for the job. See Disability Rights
×Questions about your marital status, spouse or children.
You do not have to say whether you are married, divorced or single, what your partner does for living, how many children you have or whether you are planning to have children. You can answer any of these questions by saying that “My family situation will absolutely not affect my ability to perform my duties to the best of my abilities.”
Your rights are protected by the EQUALITY ACT 2010
WHAT TO WEAR
If you’re not sure whether to dress formally or more casually, feel free to ask about the required dress code. If you are applying for a position in the fashion industry you might be expected to dress creatively rather than turn up in a suit. However, for a sale position you will be expected to dress formally.
If you have only just arrived in London and you do not have any formal clothes, try checking your local charity shop as they always sell second-hand suits and shirts for very affordable prices.
Make sure to keep your hair neat, minimal makeup, clean shoes and do not overdo it with the perfume or aftershave. You want your potential employer to feel comfortable sitting with you during the interview and not to be bothered by overpowering perfume or aftershave. Do not chew gum and keep your mobile phone off during the interview.
WHAT TO BRING
1. small notebook and a pen in case you need to write something down.
2. carry a copy of your CV and covering letter with you as well as other necessary documents
3. have your ID on you in case you need it
4. tissues always come in handy in case your palms get sweaty or you need to cough or sneeze
5. small bottle of water if your throat gets dry during long talks as some interviews may last up to one hour
WHAT TO DO AFTER THE INTERVIEW
It is a good idea to send a ‘thank you email’ after your interview. This will give you an opportunity to stand out from the other candidates and it will show your enthusiasm. The email should be sent 24 hours after the interview. It may not be appropriate for every position but it cannot harm. A thank you note should be short and concise. All you need to include is an opening sentence, body and a closing sentence.
1. The opening sentence should express how pleasant it was to meet with the employer and maybe to learn a bit more about the company. 2. This can be followed by expressing that you are eager to work for the company and that your experience and skills seem to match the requirements and you will be an asset for the company. 3. In your closing sentence thank the employer for the opportunity to be considered for the position and should they need more information they can contact you further. Close with “Sincerely” and write your name below, together with your contact details. For more samples and templates of thank you notes and letters visit about.com
It is important that your email address sounds professional and does not include silly or offensive words.
Create a new email address in Gmail or Hotmail (or any other account) for free and only use that email address for professional purposes.
Keep your private and professional email accounts separate.
First published: 2014
Last updated: 2016
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