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A thoroughly enjoyable day, I feel I have learned lots about myself  - Middle manager, education

How to prepare for an effective job interview

9th September 2013

Two incidents last week have prompted me to go back to basics on guidance for job interviews. 

The first was the appalling and completely inexcusable treatment of well- prepared applicants for selection interviews with an electrical goods retailer. The stupid and very insulting decision to instruct the applicants to dance was quite rightly condemned by many as crass, irrelevant and a monumental waste of time. That decision cannot be defended by any argument claiming that the employer was trying to test how candidates respond under pressure. It simply gives recruiters a bad name.

Another example of giving job interviews a bad name popped up in a conversation I had last week with a fellow recruiter, just as appalled by the behaviour and appearance of some candidates she had just interviewed. Her vacancies were manufacturing apprenticeships, targeting young people and offering a structured training programme that leads to a recognised craft. In the recent hot weather several candidates turned up dressed as if they had just walked off a beach, complete with sunglasses, flip flops, shorts and multiple, visible body piercings. Modern workplace attire is far less formal than it used to be but these examples of disrespect from both sides of the interview desk prompted me to re-visit  the basics required in order to manage any job interview effectively.

So, some core messages for effective preparation for job interviews follow:

Understand the job demands (what are they paying you to do?) and how your past experience and current skills will suit them

Rehearse some examples that demonstrate how you have delivered those demands in other situations. Other situations can include studying, volunteering, travelling, managing family and domestic responsibilities as well as paid employment  in any role.

Demonstrate your ability to plan, organise, and research by turning up on time, ready to shine, respectfully dressed, looking, sounding and feeling as though you can do the job. 

Prepare at least 2 questions to ask them about the job and your future doing it.

You'll find many more examples of preparing effectively for successful interviews in my book 'Nail That Job, the complete guide for the less-experienced jobseeker.' It does exactly what it says on the cover.

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