Preparing for a Job Interview

An interview for a job should never be taken lightly even in cases where the applicant might have come recommended or when the hope of securing the job is very small. Applicants must be fully prepared to stand the chance of success. A positive mindset and good preparation is of absolute necessity when planning to attend an interview.

Some people have been offered a more senior position or unexpected job opportunities simply because of their outstanding performance at an interview. Even in cases where an individual may not be suitably qualified for a particular job, your performance at an interview could become a springboard for securing other positions.
Below are specific areas for a successful interview:

1. Physical appearance – We all know that a book should not be judged by its cover; but in reality, most of us are guilty of forming an opinion of people by their physical appearance well before we get to know the person.
Remember, your appearance is what the interviewers will see first. A good physical appearance means well-groomed hair, appropriate and fitting clothes, good shoes and no unnecessary accessories. The choice of clothing would depend on the type of job on offer. In the corporate world, it is more appropriate that male or female candidates wear a dark suit. However, for a job in the entertainment sector, a smart appearance is usually all that may be required. This makes it imperative for any candidate to research their chosen area of work and establish the dress code.

It is also wise to err on the side of caution and appear more conservative rather than more flamboyant. It is worth considering that a person who has a job already may be able to get away with a crazy hairstyle or dress sense whilst an applicant may get a ‘No’ for wearing a certain look.

For gentlemen, a simple rule to note is that a busy shirt would require a plain tie whilst a plain shirt can accompany a checked or striped tie. Black shoes are appropriate except you are applying for a job as a comedian. Coloured hair and long nails on a man may not be the best, neither is an unkempt beard or a scruffy look.

It is also important to understand that dressing for a job interview is very different from dressing up to a social function. Both require the person to look good but in very different ways. A trendy person may be in touch with all that is in fashion but some of these items would not sit well for a formal job.

Women need to be careful not to wear clothes that are transparent or skirts and trousers that are too tight or too short. Cleavage-bearing tops may not get you the job either.

It is not necessary to spend a great amount of money on clothes, it is more important to appear clean, neat and sharp, without overdoing it.

2. Good knowledge of the organisation and industry – It is important that you read up on the organisation as you will need to ask questions at some point during the interview. If you do not understand the business the company runs, your questions may be irrelevant.

3. Sell yourself – You are essentially a salesperson at an interview. You will need to sell yourself to convince the interviewer to hire you. If you consider that there are other candidates, you will know that you must say why the company needs you.

Reading the job specification before the interview will give a good view of what kind of person and skills are required for a particular role. A candidate must seek to match each of those requirements with a skill, ability or qualification they possess. Sell yourself, be creative but do not lie.
You can be creative by thinking deeply of every area of your life and extracting from them experiences and skills gained which can be transferred to a new position. For example, you may never have been a receptionist; but you may have gained telephone and administrative skills from being an office assistant.

4. Good communication skills – It is very important to be able to express your ideas and thoughts. This is because no one else can read those thoughts and no matter how brilliant an idea may be, it must be properly communicated for it to make an impact on anyone. For a job applicant, whilst a CV and good personality can go a long way on the path of helping you secure a job, there is also only one opportunity to make an impact by articulating your point of view. Any good ideas or intentions – no matter how excellent or original – are in the head of the person who owns them and are therefore totally useless to an interviewer if they cannot be effectively communicated. The same goes for a person who might already be in a secure position. The need to make sensible contributions to your team at work is crucial in moving up the ladder. Fantastic ideas need to be communicated for everyone to appreciate and implement them.

In conclusion, you need good communication skills to scale through an interview and to continue to hold down a job. You can develop these skills if you put your mind to it. Starting may seem difficult but it only takes practice and it becomes a newly acquired skill that will be invaluable for you, your employer and people around you.

We all benefit when we do things right.