Get that job: How to succeed at interview

Whether you're looking for a job for the first time or moving up the career ladder, interviews are an essential part of the job hunting process. Having written a stand-out CV, it's important to make a good first impression when you meet face-to-face. Here are a few things to consider...

Job interview

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Be punctual
Aim to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Arrive too late and it will make a bad first impression - too early and it could create an awkward situation for the employer. Be sure to know exactly where you are going and how you are going to get there - and have a back up plan if you're using public transport.

If you're at all concerned about finding the place, consider making the journey beforehand (or view the streets and buildings virtually on Google Earth). If you know exactly where to find the building, you'll be less stressed and more likely to arrive calm, collected - and on time.

Be prepared
Do some pre-interview research - make a note of the company's activities, prospects and successes. Not only is it likely that the interview will want to know that you fully understand the nature of the business but it will help you to clarify what the position applied for involves.

Similarly, be ready with examples of previous experiences or situations that may be relevant to the company. That way, you'll have no problem answering the question, 'So why do you want to work for us?'

Ask them questions
Check the company website and if they have any, try out their products. Think of a few questions to ask about the company and the job. It's a good idea to have at least one or two well-thought out questions - for example, if it's a small company, how is it funded/how secure is the role. Or you might ask what the prospects are for promotion.

Remember that a job interview is as much a chance for you to decide if you like the company as for it to decide if you would fit in there. Sell yourself but make sure you think you'll be happy in the job too.

Be positive
Should the interviewer bring up weakness on your CV, don't respond with excuses and negativity. Instead, try to concentrate on the facts and explain what you gained from the experience, thereby highlighting your ability to learn from your mistakes.

Almost all interviews include a conversation about your weaknesses as well as your strengths so anything that puts a positive spin on past or present problems is a plus. Likewise, try not to be negative about your past employer or boss (even if they were a nightmare).

Body language speaks volumes about you so smile, maintain eye contact and have a firm handshake - this way you'll come across as confident and positive.

Be professional
Dress smartly - and appropriately for that particular company. Pay attention to detail and don't be let down by chipped nail varnish or dirty nails, muddy shoes or an untucked shirt. Aside from the obvious smart attire, a professional attitude and outlook is essential if you are to impress a potential employer.

Speak clearly and enthusiastically about relevant skills and experience. Don't feel that you must answer any tricky questions instantly - the interview panel will be far more impressed by a considered and thoughtful response so a short pause is perfectly acceptable.

Be natural
You are bound to be nervous before an important interview and employers understand this. But as well as finding out about your skills, work experience and potential, interviewers are keen to get an idea of your personality.

Try to be natural and personable when responding - the chances are they're not looking for a robot and a polite but relatively relaxed approach shows that you have vital social skills.

Do you have any tips for interview success? Let us know below...