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Tips On Preparing For Interviews

1. The Interviewer

During an interview, the interviewer puts questions to the interviewee. Interviews can be formal (structured) or informal, depending on the purpose of the interview, such as job interviews, admission to university, or media interviews with politicians or celebrities, top authors, and writers.

Before the interview, the interviewer does background research and formulates questions he or she wants to put to the interviewee. The interviewer then carefully plans the structure of the interview to successfully elicit the intended information and use the allocated time effectively. It is seldom that an interviewer arrives unprepared.

During such an interview it is important for the interviewer to be flexible when the sequence or focus of the interview is disrupted.  He or she must have the skills to get the interview back on track by being assertive without offending the interviewee. The interviewer must also have the skill to elicit information by asking the appropriate questions at the right time and then coming to the right conclusions in order to summarise what was said by the interviewee.

Informal interviews often occur on the spur of the moment such as an interview with a sportsperson after a game or with an eye-witness. Due to the impromptu nature of this type of interview, it is not always possible to plan and structure the interview and this is done while the interview is in progress. The interviewer must have the skill to think fast and react to information elicited from the interviewee immediately.  This makes the informal interview challenging but also very exciting for the interviewer.

2. The Interviewee

The key to a successful interview is good preparation. If you take time to prepare for the interview, you will find that you will confidently be able to participate in the interview even if you are nervous. You will instinctively know how to respond to the questions put to you. The example below relates to job interviews.

Do some research and find out as much as possible about the company and the advertised job. It is a good idea to make a list of all the questions you want to ask. Take time to analyze or unpack all your strong points and your weaknesses. Knowing these will contribute to your confidence. Make a list of questions you think you may be asked and how you would answer them. Dress carefully for the interview, always look neat and tidy. Remember the first impression you make when you enter the interview room is most important. It is often more important than all the job skills and experience you have. Take a copy of your CV, the letter of application as well as the advertisement, the application form if you completed one, and any job description you may have been given.

The company interviews prospective employees to find out just how suitable they are for their purposes.  These purposes have been summarised in the job description. Once they have read through the information you have sent them, they will ask you two types of questions:

     Questions that focus on finding out more about yourself give you an opportunity to sell yourself.
     Questions that are directed towards your weaknesses tend to manipulate your confidence. 

Think carefully of what you have said in your CV; think of your weaknesses and answer as best you can.

Greet the interviewer and wait to be invited to sit down. Sit up straight yet relaxed, don’t slouch in your chair. Speak clearly, don’t speak too fast, and LISTEN before you respond. Look at your interviewer, don’t look at the desk or the floor. Always be honest; if you are dishonest there is a chance of being found out. Admit if you make a mistake or cannot answer the question. Don’t avoid questions that are difficult to answer as this type of question gives an indication of how you will react to difficult situations in the workplace.

3. Problems during an interview

Sometimes things go wrong during an interview and being stressed doesn’t make it any easier. Your mind suddenly goes blank, your thoughts dry up, and you do not know what to say. 

     Take a deep breath and pause a moment and relax. Don’t just start talking or rambling.
     Ask the interviewer to repeat the question or if you cannot answer the question.
     Always be polite even if the interviewer is aggressive or irritating.
     Stick to your answer if you believe in what you are saying.

4. Concluding an interview

Remember to thank the interviewer when the interview is brought to a close. Smile before you walk out, last impressions are just as important as first impressions. Also, thank any other person that you were introduced to.



Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Natalie Soine