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Interview Preparation

The key to a successful, and more enjoyable, interview is preparation. The more knowledge you have about the role, the company, what they are looking for and how best to present yourself the better you will perform. No matter how well you think you know yourself or how easy you think it is the answer “standard” interview questions do not be tempted the “wing it”. Your answers will always be more thorough and convincing if you have prepared properly.

Research is essential and thee are a variety of sources of information not least the internet and trade magazines.

When researching the company consider:

History

Ownership

Size and structure

Products

Target customers

Competitors

Any changes, trends or challenges they are facing in their market

When considering the role think of:

The scope of the role

Key objectives or performance indicators

Structure – how the role fits into the organisation, the impact it makes

How it will be affected by market or technology changes

Once you have a clear understanding of the company and the role you can consider how to highlight your value to the employer. Relate your achievements and knowledge to what the employer is looking for and consider how you can present that to show that you would be a valuable addition to their staff.

In addition make sure you know your CV very thoroughly, a question about a previous role may not be very significant to that you’re are applying for but fumbling around for an answer will leave a poor impression.

This brings us onto “standard” interview questions. These are questions most people think they can answer easily enough but surprisingly difficult to answer confidently when put on the spot. Taking a little time to formulate answers to these questions will allow you to answer immediately and confidently at interview and is well worth the effort.

• What are your strengths and weaknesses?

• Why do you want this job?

• Why should I employ you?

• What motivates / de-motivates you?

• What have been your great achievements work and personal?

• What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?

• What did you learn from it?

• What do you know about our company and products?

• What skills can you bring to the company?

• How do you like to be managed?

• What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?

A key thing to remember here is that if you say you have never made a big mistake or haven’t got any weaknesses most interviewers will assume you are either stupid or lying. There is no shame in having made a mistake so long as you can show what you learnt from it and how you avoid making the same mistake again.

Never express negative comments about your current or previous employers and try to use positive language. For example when answering why you are looking for a move it could be that you have really enjoyed your current position but realistically have developed as far as you can in theta role and are now looking to use what you have learnt in a new environment where you can develop further.

During interview you will normally be given the opportunity to ask questions. It is important that you prepare questions as not asking questions may give the impression you are not interested. This is an opportunity to ensure you have a clear understanding of the role but also to enquire further about the business and their plans. It is also an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that you have done your research and taken an interest in the company by asking a question relating to something you have found out. E.g. “ I saw that you have introduced a new product – How will that affect your business? How will your competitors respond to that ? etc.

Finally make sure you know how to get to the interview location and how long it will take you. It is always advisable to dress smart but be aware that some companies, particular in the design sector, have more casual dress codes where a suit may come across as stuffy. If in doubt call the company and ask. If the hiring manager does herar that you called it only serves to show you are taking the interview seriously and want to create a good impression.