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How to complete a successful interview

Many well qualified and extremely able candidates fail at job interviews simply because they are unaware of the conventions of the job interview and the expectations of the interviewer. Successful candidates, on the other hand, manage to impress prospective employers precisely because they know how to present themselves.

Thus, they study the job advertisement; they analyse what is required in the way of skills qualifications and experience; they assess their own suitability for the job; and finally, they present themselves in a thoughtful and carefully prepared manner.

Their written applications are comprehensive and business-like, containing all the relevant information presented neatly and concisely. They prepare themselves carefully for interview, anticipating likely questions and rehearsing their responses. They study the structure of the interview and devise a strategy to satisfy the interviewer's requirements. In short, they prepare themselves to succeed.

Let us begin by giving some general advice to candidates who are considering the daunting prospect of an interview.

As a candidate you should be able to express yourself with clarity and precision. To do this you must make adequate preparation, anticipating likely questions and rehearsing your responses. Your answers should appear spontaneous. At the same time, you should come across as thoughtful, articulate and coherent. So preparation is essential.

During the interview you should speak confidently, making sure to support your answers with relevant examples from your work experience. It is up to you during the course of the interview to acquaint the interviewer with whatever information you consider to be important.

Always relate your answers to the job for which you are applying. This is particularly important in the case of candidates who are faced with the sort of indirect questions favoured by many interviewers. For example, the interviewer may ask you to describe your current job. This is an indirect way of asking you to what extent your present skills and experience relate to the job for which you are applying.

Always present a positive face. Having studied your application form, interviewers will have identified the weaker aspects of your case. So it is in your own best interests to examine your application critically with a view to identifying any significant weaknesses or negative aspects. Prepare positive and convincing explanations of any shortcomings and emphasise what you have done or are doing to rectify matters.

Since interviewers are looking for candidates who display a positive attitude, you should state and supply evidence that you enjoy your job; that you are enthusiastic and ambitious; and that you welcome challenge.

It is important to tell the truth in interviews. However, try to present the facts as persuasively as you can. So examine and assess your own case and tailor the facts to create the best and most positive impression.

It is essential to develop a rapport with the interviewer right from the start. If you can give the impression that you have a lot in common with the interviewer and if he or takes a liking to you, you will greatly improve your chances of success.

Interviewers usually place a greater emphasis on practical experience than on paper qualifications, so it is up to you to convince them that your experience qualifies you for the job on offer. This will involve using your experience as evidence to support statements that you make in answers to questions.