27 November 2007

A foolproof interview guide

You’ve taken a lot of care in preparing your CV, you’ve managed to get an interview and have dressed for success. Ready?

You’ve taken a lot of care in preparing your CV, you’ve managed to get an interview and have dressed for success. Ready?

It is precisely at this moment that stress and anxiety set in. The sweaty hands and the nervous anticipation of the unexpected. Most of us feel as if we are about to be put onto a display cabinet surrounded by bright stage lights! And, quite rightly so, you are the product being put on ‘sale’.

The good news is that it’s not difficult to turn your experience into a positive one. By following the next couple of guidelines, you’ll be well prepared and able to enjoy the experience and create a highly professional impression:


  • Make sure you know the exact location and starting time of the interview, and give yourself time to arrive early. Ensure you know the interviewer's full name and job title.
  • Do your research, and find out as much as you can about the company and your prospective division.
  • Prepare questions to ask in the interview. Remember that the interview is a two-way street, and your questions can effectively demonstrate your professional expectations in terms of future growth and development.
  • Dress smartly. Your attire should aim to demonstrate a level of professionalism appropriate to the position. Never try to make an impression by wearing skimpy or revealing clothing.
  • Practise. Ask a friend to draw up a list of questions for you, based on the job advertisement, and then conduct a mock interview.

The Interview:
  • Arrive early. Being late for an interview is inexcusable. Rather be prepared to spend a couple of minutes waiting outside the building than arriving late.
  • Greet the interviewer by name with a firm handshake and a smile.
  • Do not sit down until offered a chair.
  • Ensure you have a copy of your CV with you to give your interviewer as a reference during the interview.
  • Always make eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Watch your body language. Strive to appear calm and composed, and avoid fidgeting.
  • Your conduct should always convey your determination to get the job.
  • Focus on highlighting your strong points and achievements when answering questions.
  • Avoid "Yes" or "No" answers. Take the opportunity to explain, but don't over-answer questions. Listen to questions clearly and provide succinct answers.
  • Keep your tone professional and conversational. Do not talk to the interviewer as you would a friend, and avoid unnecessary references to your personal life.
  • Don't make negative remarks about previous employers.
  • Don't ask about remuneration in your first interview. If the interviewer is interested in hiring you, opportunity to discuss this will arise later.
  • Close the sale. The most effective closing will reaffirm your interest in the position.
  • Thank the interviewer for taking the time to see you.
  • Still looking for that job? Visit for some help.

    (Jenni van der Merwe,, June 2006)


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