The job interview Print
Human Development - Employment

Job interview

Job interview

General guidelines to a job interview

There are varying guidelines for behaviour at a job interview. No manual can help you here on the detail level because it is who you are and how you present yourself what is most important here.

Statistics say that the First Impression decides 87% of the hiring decision, meaning that your grand entrance should be just that - your Grand Entrance.

And by this we don't mean to be flamboyant but to be you and only you, as difficult as this may be at this moment. Recovering from a negative first impression is an uphill battle which can won but should be avoided.

Interview training, preparing yourself

If you are the type of person who gets nervous, freezes up, mumbles and generally messes up when placed in the interview seat, it would be well worth your while to get some interview training.

Interviews can be grueling experiences leaving you speechless at crucial points and unable to retain any control or even a sense of dignity while the torture continues.

You haven't made it through the selection process only to break down at the hiring stage, and practicing for an interview if you need it should be done.

The interviewer - friend or foe

Now that you have your invitation for an interview you need to get yourself ready. A good resume only gets you invited to an interview, the rest is up to you.

There are two different types of interviewers you can get; the experienced,  professional job interviewer and the inexperienced interviewer.

The first is someone who will understand that you are nervous and give you a few minutes to relax and help you. Often this person is someone from the personnel department (Human Resources). Coming face to face with an experienced interviewer has advantages and disadvantages.

One advantage is that the interview will follow a structure and you will be led through it. This allows you to "follow the leader", making the experience easier to get through because there will be fewer embarrassing silences and awkward moments to fill or overcome.

The disadvantage of a structured interview, and this depends on the experience of the interviewer, is that you may not get an opportunity to elaborate on certain subjects or you may even be "herded" through at a forced pace, making you uncomfortable, and even unsure about your answers.

One of the dangers of facing an inexperienced interviewer, or worse, a group of inexperienced interviewers, is that there is no structure to the interview. You are constantly on edge because you have no idea where the conversation is going. There could be pauses of which you are not sure whether the interviewer is preparing for the next question or whether you are required to give some kind of answer or initiate a question yourself.

An advantage of being interviewed by an inexperienced person is that you can guide the interview yourself. Someone has to be in control! You can set your own pace, emphasising your strengths and minimising your weaknesses or not mention them at all. The danger here is yourself. Getting too confident might embarrass the interviewer into realising he is not in control but that you are. Coming across as overbearing or dominant is something you must try to avoid.

Selling yourself - the impression you make

The first physical impression the prospective employer gets of you is 75% of all the work and I do not mean beauty or good looks. No matter your physical shape, it's how you carry yourself. Be someone!

  • Don't be late, be early. Take extra time even if you know how long it should take. You never know what will delay you. Don't arrive all rushed and possibly disheveled or sweaty. Extra time will let you calm down.

  • Be presentable. Get a good night's sleep before! Shower, shave (if necessary), groom yourself like for a night on the town but hold off on the perfumes or aftershave. Less is more. The same goes for make-up.

  • Tone down on the fashion statements. Unless the job requires it, stay on the middle road of fashion. You want them to focus on you, not your apparel. Think of the company's or job image, try to compliment it.

  • Be calm. Be polite. Try to appear relaxed. Be friendly. Have your wits about you, focus on the task at hand. Be yourself. Show interest.

  • Don't go on an empty stomach. A couple of plain biscuits or toast will keep your stomach and nerves intact. If you still have the shakes decline any offer of coffee, tea or food. Water is fine and you can ignore it or just take a sip.

  • Don't drift off the subject. Ask or answer questions directly and as succinctly as possible. If they are interested about your personal life, they will ask, don't spill it all over. It's not what you are there for.

  • Know your subject. Unless you're the inventor, count on it that someone at the interview will be familiar with the subject matter. But perhaps having the latest news or development may be something they do not have yet.

  • Address the speaker. Unless you are familiar with speaking to groups of people, if there are more than two people present just concentrate on the person asking questions at that moment and ignore the others.

  • Negotiate. You would not be at the interview if they did not think you can be an asset to the company. If the salary is not fixed and it is obvious they are interested, negotiate! It may be your only opportunity to do so for a (long) while.

Tips and guidelines, questions to expect

Not confident yet? Need more information? Not sure what to expect or ask? The following sites offer guidelines and tips, questions to expect and possible answers to giveand for lists of mistakes to avoid.

University of Waterloo, Canada
- Job/Work Interviews

Thomas Staffing Services 
- The 25 worst job interview mistakes

MBA Style Magazine
- Interview questions to expect
- Vocational questions to expect

- Conventional wisdom for interviews

Writing a resume good enough to get an interview

Writing a good resume is essential to being invited to a job interview. Only in a very tight job market can you be forgiven for writing a sloppy or otherwise inadequate resume.

Not too surprisingly, a killer resume followed by a good interview can get you a job where your qualifications come second place.

Go to the resumes or cv page. I want to know more about resumes or cv's.
Go to the Job Qualification guidelines page. I want to know more about being properly qualified.

Success and failure

Failure and rejection

In the end, no matter how perfectly you have prepared and presented yourself, there is no guarantee you get the job. This still depends on a number of factors outside of your control.

You will be graded like a piece of meat, your good and bad points will be assessed against your competitors (if any). The interviewer may have taken a dislike to you or simply had a bad day. Inadvertently you have made them feel like idiots and so forth. Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Analyse the interview but don't dwell on it.

In most cases of rejection you will never know what went wrong. All you get is a short and polite letter or phone call, if at all. This really is a shame because knowing where you went wrong, if it was you, may be something you can improve on for the next interview. But companies seldom or never tell you why you didn't get the job. That's life. Don't take it too hard, you did get the interview after all.

Wonder why you didn't get the job? Check with the following sites to see if you have made any, or all(!), of these mistakes:



At this point you may want to scrutinize the contract and squeeze out some extra benefits (see Employment Rules, Regulations and Benefits further down this page) before you sign it.

It is also a good time to enquire about your desk space and other personal workplace necessities and let them make the changes right away before you start. In the spirit of mutual satisfaction these demands will almost always be granted.

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