This is the most important stage in the selection process, so it is essential to get it right, as you rarely get a second chance to make a good impression. Here are some guidelines to help you prepare for this important first contact.
Firstly, try to find out as much as possible about the company you are applying to; it is a good idea to check their website and find out something about the products and services they offer, where they operate from and how many people work there.
You also need to make a good impression, so pay particular attention to the way you dress and your general physical appearance. For office work it is recommended to dress formally (a suit), men should wear a tie and women should wear only a modest amount of perfume, make-up and jewellery.
Plan your travel to the interview venue in advance to ensure that you arrive in good time, about 15-20 minutes early, and allow for possible delays en route. Punctuality, presentation and motivation are very important factors.
During the interview your level of English should be sufficient to express yourself clearly. It is advisable to bring an identity document with you. You should try to be relaxed and answer questions confidently and with as much integrity as possible.
It is fine to smile, but the contact should remain professional. Each question should be answered as fully and clearly as possible. If a question is not well understood, it may be asked to be repeated or clarified. Good communication skills are very important.
Interviews in most companies usually last about 30-40 minutes and there may be one interviewer or a panel of two or three. In this case, the panel will usually be chaired by the head of the department to which the vacant post belongs or a representative of the human resources department. Psycho-technical tests (20-30 minutes) are sometimes accompanied. The style of the interview may vary. Some interviewers open the interview with questions such as "tell me about yourself", which will allow you to speak for a significant part of the time. Make sure the panel members get a sense of your suitability for the job and the value you can bring to the company.
Don't monopolise the interview, don't give negative information if you are not asked and above all don't criticise your last employer. It is useful to show that you have bothered to do some research on the company. The key is to turn negative information into positive.
Unless asked by the panel, do not explain what motivated you to apply. There is very little discussion of non-professional issues. However, you can give examples of voluntary work you have done. You do not have to give details of your interests outside work, unless you use them as examples of your ability to do a task in response to one of the questions.
Typical questions include asking the candidate to give examples of when they have been in a situation with a particular problem and how they have solved it.
The main rules for applicants are that they should be professional, polite, stick to the facts, present themselves correctly, be motivated and be on time.
To recap, these are the ideas you need to be clear about:
- Qualifications and professional experience are very important, but what is vital is what the British call "aptitude". The positive disposition of the worker.
- Learn as much as you can about the company before the interview.
Practice answers. Think about what the interviewers might be interested in about your professional or personal experience and prepare your answers.
- Dress appropriately. Physical presence can be a determining factor in a decision that will be made in a short period of time.
- Watch your body language. Do not cross your arms or legs, it indicates insecurity or defensiveness. Always look the person asking the question in the eye. During the answer, move your gaze between the different members of the panel.
- You should not give the impression of being shy or too forward. Being in the middle ground is the best way to get it right.
- Let the employer know at all times that you are not afraid of pressure situations.
- Don't try to convince them that you know how to do everything, it is better if you can convince them that you have the ability and willingness to learn.
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