Get that job

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 12:00am

A JOB interview serves as the bridge between school or university and working life. As with any journey, if you plan your route carefully your trip will be smoother, and you will stand a better chance of reaching your destination: a job.

Every job is different, but there are certain ground rules when it comes to interviews and it pays to be prepared. The first step is to find out as much as you can about the company you are being interviewed by. The Internet or your local library are excellent sources of information. And if you have a friend already working at the company, ask them about the job and who is going to interview you.

The next step is to consider the types of questions you may be asked, and to prepare your answers. The interviewer could ask you anything, but you can rest assured he or she will probably cover these key questions:

- Why did you decide to apply for this job?

- What are your three most impressive achievements?

- What are your strengths and weaknesses?

- What motivates you?

The interviewer will probably also ask you to tell him a little about yourself, so have a short spiel prepared about where and what you have studied and relevant experience. Practise with a friend or in front of a mirror until you can give your answers with ease and clarity. But do not memorise your answers, as nervousness can sometimes make your mind go blank.

The night before the interview, write down a list of five things you want the interviewer to know about you - gear the list to suit the company.

And make sure you wear the right clothes. As much as you may like your new Nike trainers, they are probably not appropriate - unless you are going for a job as a gym instructor. Wear your most conservative clothes, make sure they are spotless, and polish your shoes. First impressions do count, so look your best.

When you set off for the interview, make sure you have the names of the people you are meeting, and an address with clear directions. Leave plenty of time to get there. You should aim to arrive a little early. Arriving late gives a bad impression, and will get you off on the wrong foot.

When you arrive at the interview - five minutes early - take a deep breath, think positive and act confident, even if you do not feel it. When you shake hands with your potential employer, make sure you use a firm grip. This suggests strength of character.

At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions. How you respond will affect the interviewer's evaluation of you, so be prepared to ask some insightful questions about the organisation - and your potential job. Having no questions will make you look passive and uninterested. It is not a good idea to ask about salary or benefits at this point as it will make you appear as though you are more interested in what the company can do for you.

If you do not get the job, do not be discouraged. Most people go through several interviews before they are offered a position. With each interview you are gaining more experience which will stand you in good stead for future interviews.

Hot tips:

- Research the job

- Prepare answers to probable questions

- Arrive a little early

- Dress smartly

- Make eye contact with the interviewer

- Speak with confidence

- Be enthusiastic