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Interview Tips & Advice

Research

It is important to find out as much information as possible about your prospective employer in advance. Many now have websites which are packed with information. Familiarise yourself with mission statements, past performance, future goals and current analyst ratings. Be aware that if your prospective employer does have a comprehensive website, you may seriously compromise your chances if it becomes apparent you have not taken time to research it.

If there is no company website, it is still easy to research your employer. All national newspapers and professional magazines have online sites with archive articles. You can also utilise web search engines just by entering the company name. Talk to anyone you know who has worked at the organisation. If all else fails do try phoning the company and requesting general information.

Interview tips

  • Greet your interviewer standing, with a strong, firm handshake and a smile! Good body language is vital. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Speak clearly and confidently. Try and maintain a comfortable level of eye contact throughout.
  • A standard interview will generally start with an introductory chat, moving on to questions specific to your application and experience. General information about the company and role may follow, finishing with an opportunity for you to ask your own questions.
  • Be familiar with your CV and prepared to answer questions from it. Similarly, ensure you have read any job description thoroughly and think of ways in which your experience will benefit your potential employer.
  • Listen to what is being asked of you. Think about your answers to more difficult questions and do not give irrelevant detail. Give positive examples from your experience to date but be concise. Avoid one word answers however. Prepare yourself in advance for common interview questions.
  • Be ready to ask questions that you have prepared beforehand. This can demonstrate you have thought about the role and done some research on the organisation. Ensure they are open, thus encouraging the interviewer to provide you with additional information.
  • Show your enthusiasm for the role, even if you have some reservations. These can be discussed at a later stage.

Interview research tips

  • Call the company/agency and request sales literature, annual reports, technical information, product brochures, information and so on.
  • Log on to the internet and visit the company website, spending time looking at financial information and gaining a good understanding of what the company does, and their goals and values.
  • If available, also access the press area of the website. This will give you articles from the media and insightful information about the company. It will also ensure you are aware of recent press releases involving the company.
  • If the company website does not have a press area, access information online through search engines such as Google or MSN. Alternatively, log on to media sites, such as The Financial Times website, and run a search on the company.

Pitching the right salary

One of the trickiest subjects to broach for the jobseeker is that of salary. Sometimes the individual may feel embarrassed even mentioning it; others feel quite confident because they are certain they should be earning more. So how do you get the result you want without putting your potential employer offside?

Source the right information

Tip number one is to do as much research as possible. Indeed, it would be foolish not to when so much information is readily available at your fingertips. For further general information on average figures, often the best sources are the specific industry's professional organisations - these are the groups who conduct salary guides on a regular, often yearly, basis.

Your immediate peer group is another rich source as you can conduct your own informal survey with other professionals to gain knowledge about expected salaries, job titles and career paths.

Buy trade magazines or publications which advertise the type of jobs you are looking for and take note of salaries that are published. You should be subscribing to these anyway so you can keep abreast of a whole host of industry information.

There is also a wealth of information on the web. Speaking to recruitment consultants will give you a clearer idea of market supply and demand and the kinds of benefits you can expect.

For company-specific information, you may need to do more digging. Some companies publish salary information on the careers section of their websites. With others, you may need to inquire further through their personnel departments

Know when to ask

It is important to remember that, even when armed with great information, you should always push salary discussions to the later stage of job interviews. Certainly, do not broach the subject in your first interview because you will lose negotiating power if you disclose your requirements too soon.

Look beyond salary to the benefits packages being offered such as annual leave entitlement, car allowance, health insurance, education reimbursement, pension schemes and flexible working hours. It never hurts to ask for more money, but be careful about the way you ask.

We advise against mentioning any other job offers that you may have received. Do not hold people to ransom because it could: a) backfire, or b) damage your future with the company.

One final piece of advice - especially for first-time jobseekers - is that you should never sound too desperate, and do not accept just any job offer. Discussing money with your employer need not always be the awkward experience many people assume it to be.

Armed with the right knowledge and a bit of confidence, you might be pleasantly surprised with what you can achieve.