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The Interview

Remember that this is your opportunity to find out if this is the sort of environment in which you would be happy to work. If the interviewer has not indicated, ask how long the meeting will last and have your own agenda of what you want to cover. Your questions should be relevant, and reflect you have done some research. You might ask to what extent the devaluation in the pound has improved export sales: or what impact their latest advertisement has had on sales.

You may want to know what some of the primary objectives of the job are, what responsibilities are crucial, what will your performance be judged on, how will it be measured.

Having questions like these ready avoids a deathly silence when asked if you have any further questions.

Practice talking about yourself and your accomplishments to friends, family and anyone who will listen. Rehearse a two to three minute introduction for when asked 'Tell me about yourself'. I'm an electrical engineer with fifteen years experience in heavy machinery. My background includes a position as plant maintenance supervisor, responsible for service and repairs at three sites. I have managed a team of twenty technicians and mechanics, and, under my supervision, turn around time on repairs has reduced by 10%. Over the past three years I have been involved in a team which makes recommendations to the purchasing department for replacement of equipment within our division.

Do not be modest about your accomplishments, but be factual, be proud of and proclaim your achievements.

Use every opportunity to show that you have done your homework. However, do not speak for more than two minutes, and do not be a "know all". Rather than ask what gross sales were last year - refer to a figure from a report showing an increase / decrease, then ask if that reflects local or international sales.

Practice the tough questions so that your responses come across positively and naturally. Be prepared to answer any of three types of question: standard, open-ended, and structured.
Standard questions require a straight forward 'yes' or 'no' response. Have you any experience in product launch? Are you prepared to relocate? Try a brief, but not abrupt, answer, like "I have not specifically discussed relocation with my family but they have always been supportive of my career."

Open-ended questions invite you to talk. Tell me about yourself? What are your future goals? These answers should be rehearsed so that you provide a clear response, conveying the important information required, within two minutes. Structured interview questions discourage candidates from embellishing their responses. A professional interviewer these days may say "tell me how you would introduce and support our new database software" or "how would you plan and implement the relocation of our new warehouse function to the North East."

Whatever the style, do not feel rushed into giving an answer. Pausing before responding indicates thoughtfulness. Think carefully about what the company is looking for before your answer, and then do so slowly and confidently.

Do not be a pawn, ask about the interview process. Before you leave, find out what the next step is, when you might hear, who makes the ultimate decision and when they hope to fill the position.

Companies usually favour candidates with good interpersonal skills - they want you to be likeable. Thank the interviewer at the start and end of the meeting for their time and remember to follow up with a thank you note. When you do write, restate why you are interested in the position, what you have to offer the employer, and that you desire to meet for another interview to discuss accepting an offer.

As soon as possible telephone your consultant giving them feedback on how the interview progressed, let them debrief you in order to ensure they have a general feeling as to your suitability for the position.

The interview process is protracted so be prepared for some weeks to pass between each step. It may have been some time since you were interviewed. Bear in mind the following:-

i) Do not say anything derogatory about your former employer or colleagues.
ii) Do not discuss personal issues - family or health matters would not normally be relevant.
iii) Do not reveal confidential or proprietary information.
iv) Do not be impatient or lose concentration if the interview is interrupted several times.
v) The job interview should be a two-way conversation. If confronted with someone who does all the talking remember the meter is running and they are using up your time.
vi) The same applies to you - do not be remembered for being the bore on Tuesday morning. Be the candidate that appeared prepared, competent, confident and compatible. GOOD LUCK!

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