Interviewing - Getting That Job

by Jane Tredgett


Fail to prepare; prepare to fail.


Many interviewees are unsuccessful because enough time has not been put into this vital stage. The interviewee feels they can ‘wing it’.

Picture the scene (it may have happened to you!)... You arrive a little late for the interview. You are feeling flustered and embarrassed... The interviewer asks you a question – you give an answer that contradicts what you have put in your CV... The interviewer frowns and asks you another question. You hadn’t anticipated this question and stumble over your words... The interviewer asks you for a document you were told to bring – you don’t have it...

This checklist should help you plan your interviews effectively and help you avoid being the hapless interviewee described above!

What to prepare

  • Check the details on when and where the interview is to be held.
  • Make sure you are clear on parking/security arrangements.
  • Check whether you are supposed to bring anything with you.
  • Work out travel times – allow plenty of time for contingencies.
  • Allow approximately 30 to 60 minutes for the interview, plus some time for overruns.
  • Check that the clothing you plan to wear still fits and is clean and ironed.
  • Research the company – the Internet is great for this. Find out what their products are, who their customers are, what sites the company is based on.
  • Research the job – if possible speak to someone in the organisation doing a similar job; ask Human Resources if you can have a job description (you may not be able to achieve much with this one, but the fact you have tried gives a good impression).
  • Print off copies of your application form and CV to take with you and read them beforehand to make sure you remember what you specifically put in this application.
  • Make sure you have your diary and pen and paper to take with you (if your diary is a Winnie the Pooh one and the only paper you possess is the back of an old envelope, this might be a good time to invest in something a little more business like...).
  • Think about questions you may be asked and plan your answers, perhaps rehearsing them with a friend (for some sample questions you may be asked, see Answering questions effectively).
  • Think about some questions to ask at the interview:
  • Three is a good number to prepare – if you only have one, you can bet the interviewer will have answered it in his introduction and you will then be left feeling uncomfortable as you will have nothing else to ask!
  • Your questions should be well thought out and relevant
  • Make sure they have not already been answered in the advert or pre-interview information
  • Try to avoid questions based purely on pay structure or working hours – it can make you appear shallow and not really motivated to do the job. If you do need to ask about these, think about how you can phrase your questions so they come across positively.

Many people admit to thinking that a rabbit’s foot or lucky underwear will work at their next interview. A survey of over 3,000 people reported that 84 per cent thought that wearing or carrying something lucky to an interview will help them get the job; with 60 per cent of the respondents relying on their lucky underwear.

Luck has little to do with your success at an interview, but your state of mind is very important. If wearing that lucky pair of briefs helps you keep calm and confident under the pressure of an interview, perhaps it really does work.

When you arrive

  • Make sure you park in the right space – it can be very embarrassing having to move your car part-way through an interview...
  • Advise reception of your arrival
  • A trip to the toilet may be a good idea as those interview nerves can play havoc with the bladder... While you are there, check your appearance; ladies, make that final check that your skirt is where it should be and not tucked in your underwear...
  • Be prepared for your interview not to start on time – bad time management planning by interviewers frequently leads to overruns, so it’s OK to take something to read – but be aware that receptionists may later be asked to comment on what their impression of you was and they may well pass on that your reading material was somewhat distinctive...
  • If you bump into a rival interviewee, ensure you act professionally – this may have been planned deliberately for the company to see how you cope with this sort of situation.