Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Do's and Don'ts of Interviews

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Here are ten Do's and ten Don'ts that are well worth remembering when you go for your next interview.
1. Do smile and appear positive. Look as if you are the kind of person it would be good to have on board, and that customers would find it a pleasure to do business with. It's an easy thing to do, but it helps your acceptability with any interviewer right from the start.
2. Do use the interviewer's name, they love to hear it. Make sure you get the pronunciation right, people can get offended even by unintended mispronunciations. However, only use the interviewer's first name if they indicate that is the way they want you to address them.
3. Do sit up straight and look attentive. Avoid slouching in your chair or adopting a casual pose. Look as if you treat the event as important, and are giving the matter your full attention.
4. Do maintain a respectful space. Don't lean on the interviewer's desk or get too familiar. Good manners in an interviewee will always be appreciated.
5. Do give tricky questions initial thought. To give yourself a little time say something like "That's an interesting question... " Look thoughtfully out of the window for a few seconds, then try to give a considered answer.
6. Do be careful of wide-open questions, like a request to "Tell me a story". Ask for clarification, or cut the options down with responses like: "What would you like me to tell you a story about?"
Be equally careful when different people ask you two different questions at once. Stay in control by saying something like: "I'll be happy to answer both these questions. Now let me start with number one."
7. Do make all your answers sound like you. Even if you take the trouble to learn a whole series of great answers off pat, do practise saying them, or altering them, till they all come across naturally as the genuine you.
8. Do avoid self-criticism which damages your chances. If you have to admit to an error or a failure, show just how you have turned that into a valuable learning point, which has simply added to your experience.
9. Do switch off your mobile phone. It could well irritate the interviewer if it suddenly rings. And don't be tempted to answer it if it does! That would imply that anyone who happens to come on the phone is more important than what you're doing now. Definitely a no-no.
10. Do speak in terms that the interviewer wants to hear. What they want to hear is not how good the job would be for you, but about what you can do for them, about the skills and experience you can bring to the job, about the contribution you can make to their business.
Now let's look at the Don'ts.
1. Don't argue with the interviewer. If you happen to disagree on a point, say: "I think our experience might be different on that subject", or "I respect your view on that. On the other hand, some people might say... " That allows room to maintain your position politely and without offence.
2 Don't knock previous employers or other candidates. Someone who excuses themselves by simply criticizing others is not the kind of person employers want to have around.
3. Don't tell lies. It is perfectly legitimate to gild the lily as best you can in telling your positive stories, or to put the nicest gloss on episodes that did not work out so well, but draw the line at telling lies. If you are subsequently found out, your candidacy will be dead as a dodo.
4. Don't swear. Even if the interviewer does. No-one ever got a job by being good at swearing. nd no-one ever got rejected by failing to swear. The safest option is to use polite language throughout.
5. Don't smoke during the interview. Even if you are invited to do so, decline until at least the interview is over. It is too distracting. Interestingly, a friend of mine once got to the last two in a competitive job contest, and the company later told him that in the end they had decided on the other candidate because he didn't smoke!
6. Don't raise the question of pay until the end, and then only if you need to. If you raise it early, you give the strong impression that all you're interested in is what you can get out of the job, not what you can put into it. First, persuade the company about the useful skills and experience you could bring to the job. Then when they are convinced about the value of that, come to an arrangement which is a good deal for both parties.
7. Don't drop your guard during an interview. Even if you are being shown around a company's offices, labs, or manufacturing plant by some assistant or junior, just assume that they are also part of the team who will take part later in deciding on your suitability for the job.
8. Don't mention any work or jobs you have done which haven't appeared on your résumé. That will just raise doubts about the veracity of what you have told the company, and about your credibility generally.
9. Don't appear downhearted at any time, even if the interviewer has just made some negative comment about you. Otherwise you may look like the type who simply gives up when faced with difficult problems. Just take it on the chin, and refer to the positives that you do bring to the company.
10. Don't panic! Ever! There is no value in it whatsoever. Just make up your mind before any interview that, even if put under pressure, you are going to stay calm and collected throughout. That kind of self-control is a quality any company will appreciate.

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