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Interview preparation How to handle yourself in an interview How to best answer questions Possible questions

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INTERVIEW PREPARATION
1.11 Information Gathering Find out about the company, the position and the interviewer. Thus,  Learn about the company. Products, product range, size, size of department, international connections, to which group do they belong, what is their position in the market. Know the address and exact position. Get a map and exact description of how to get there, where to park, which floor to go to. Know the name and the position of the person you are going to see. Her/his personality, her/his specific concern for the position. Knowing the type of boss you are going to have helps you to tailor yourself to the situation. The tailoring implies knowing the sort of attitude to adopt as well as how to dress. Know the name of the MD of the company. Get details of the position offered. What skills do they look for? Duties, responsibilities, reporting line, promotional prospects, machinery / equipment, salary, fringe benefits.

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Know the time, date and place of the interview allow yourself plenty of time to get there. You should never be late for an interview. Arrive there early at least 15 minutes before your appointment is scheduled to start.

1.12 Appearance Dress comfortably but neatly and suit is the best form of dressing for both men and women. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! Wear light make up, wash you hair, and groom your nails, clear nail polish constitutes your most profession look. Use deodorant after showering to avoid body odour

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THE ACTUAL INTERVIEW
2.10  

How To Handle Yourself In An Interview
You should always greet the interviewer by surname with a smile and firm handshake and always look people in the eye when you greet them. Relax - Do not sit down before you are asked to do sit upright and do not slouch. Avoid shifting about in your chair, fiddling with pens or buttons, waving your arms about or shuffling your feet. Keep your body still throughout the interview. Hold your hands casually in your lap and tuck your legs together neatly. Lean slightly forward and look steadily at the interviewer. Try to look in the interviewer in the eye. Do not smoke even if you are invited to do so. However, do accept tea, coffee or water if offered, as it does relax the atmosphere. If you are very nervous, however, rather refuse in order not to spoil. Do not chew gum. Ladies put your bag down beside you. Do not call anybody by first name only unless you are invited to do so. Use a persons name when talking. It is the best way to get- and keep- his or her attention. Speak well - The way you speak indicates the way you feel. Speak in a clear and well toned voice. Think for a second before you speak. If you stumble, rush or gabble your answer, you will appear nervous and ill-prepared. Never roll or slur your words. You should speak clearly and concisely. Avoid verbal clutter. Poor communicators tend to talk in paragraphs. Successful communicators talk in short sentences. Do not mumble or try to disguise dialects or regional accents as this will cause more problems as interviews goes on. Always listen to what the interviewer is saying, listen to the whole question not just the key words in it. If you are attending a panel interview try not to direct all your answers and questions to one person, look and speak to the whole panel. Personality – Be polite. Always treat the interviewer with respect and courtesy. Be friendly. A smile is a friendly gesture. Smile as often as you can without appearing false. The interviewer must feel you are a person they would like to have around, all the time. It is important that you put across the impression that you are a friendly, pleasant person. Now you can impress the interviewer with a good choice of prepared questions. Think carefully when asking questions and make sure they are relevant to the industry/market/company and to the role you are interested in. Ask at a

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reasonably general level. Try and save the best question for this part of the interview. If you did not get a chance yet to show the knowledge you have of the company – now is your chance! Say what you know and ask related questions, e.g.: You have studied the company’s annual report – consider remarking on any substantial progress the firm has made within the past year or cite an area of company involvement that interests you.

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How To Best Answer Questions

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Assess the information about the company and the vacant position and decide what aspects of your own experience to stress positively. Tell the prospective employer more of what you can do for them and want to do for them rather than what you expect for them rather than what you expect of them! Always keep in mind to talk about the company and not self. You must never feel intimidated by the interviewer and become over-anxious. Never talk about your personal problems even the problems you had in the previous job, otherwise they will think you will take your problems into your new job. Do not be a know it all. There are certainly areas where you have not got much experience. Offer to learn, to put in extra effort in your own time. If asked questions, always back up an answer with pertinent examples or reasons, do not just say yes or no. Volunteer information, and try to keep answer to no more than one minute long. Listen, express interest, come to the point, but do not take over. By doing this you will help her/him to learn more about you. If you are asked for a certain skill or experience that you do not have, do not just say no, and add although l am very interested in learning/doing this… Be careful at the same time not to talk too much. Anticipate likely questions and rehearse responses beforehand. Be honest. Your answers may well be checked with your references. Display positive attitude with body language by nodding etc shows interest in the position. A positive is important irregardless of what you think about the job. Do not show any negative attitude even if you hear anything that you do not like. You can always decline the offer afterwards. Job opportunities can be created by referrals.

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2.20 Possible Interview Questions
(a) Please tell me about yourself?  Be prepared to answer personal questions honestly.  Tell them how old you are, marital status, any children.  Tell them the truth, because the interview is trying to see how much you can travel and how much of overtime you can work.  Mention your personal attributes and beliefs.  If you are new to the job marker, mention education achievements & curricular activities What Qualifies You For This Position?  Always tell the interviewer your most impressive and outstanding qualifications first  Then move on to tell them any further or supplementary qualifications  Prepare some success stories about previous experience and past job  Try to integrate them into your discussion, which ensures that you have their attention  A positive approach ensures that you are relaxed and errors would be reduced to a minimum. Outline your strength & accomplishments. What Are Your Qualifications?  Do not say: “it is all on my CV” or “you can see from my CV” ... The interviewer would like to hear the information out of your mouth, and you are also insulting the interviewer by implying that he has not read your CV carefully enough. Describe a typical day in your present job.  Do not make the common mistake of inflating your position – mention the routine tasks you do, in order to add realism to your overall description. Why do you want this job?  For you to answer this you should have done your research about the company & the position. Most importantly tell them how the opportunities matches your needs & that you feel you can add value in terms of ----(refer to your skills that will benefit the company)

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(d)

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(f)

Why Should We Hire You?  Tell them about previous achievements. Tell them what contributions to the company you are able to make. Eg: What positive results have you contributed to your current employer in terms of: generating income of sales, reduction of costs (R saved), productivity, saving of time by increasing the work flow, team building, new strategies, procedures, products or programs, successful training or promotion record, etc. Did you put forward any ideas? Did you win any awards/prizes what for?

(G)

What are your biggest accomplishments?  Keep your answer job related; from earlier exercises, a number of achievements should spring to mind. If your exaggerate contributions to major projects, you will be accused of suffering from coffee machine syndrome; the affliction of a junior clerk who claimed success for an Apollo space mission based on his relationship with certain scientists, established at the coffee machine. You might begin your reply with: “although l feel my biggest achievements are still ahead of me, l am proud of my involvement with … l made my contribution as part of that team and learned a lot in the process. We did it with hard work, concentration, and an eye for the bottom line.”

(h)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?  The safest answer contains a desire to be regarded as a true professional and team player. As far a promotion is concerned, that depends on finding a manager with whom one can grow. Of course, you will ask what opportunities exist within the company before being any more specific, from what l know and what you have told me about the growth here; it seems that manufacturing where the heavy emphasis is going to be. It seems that is where you need the effort and where l could contribute most towards the company’s goals. I would like to grow as a professional person in the position and with the company. In 5 years time l would definitely like to grow into a more senior position.

(i)

Why did you leave / want to leave your current?  Do not criticize former employers

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Do not say personal reasons this leaves the interviewer with questions, at times extremely worse. It is more professional to associate your reasons for leaving with career growth, wanting more challenges or responsibilities and any other reasons than saying for more money!

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Why have you charged job so frequently? Frequently means being at a company less than 2 years. If you have jumped around, it is best to blame it on your youth (everyone was young once even the interviewer), never on the company! Now you realize what a mistake your job hoping was, and with your added domestic responsibilities you are now more settled. Or you may wish to impress on the interviewer that your jobjumping was never the result of poor performance, and that you grew professionally as a result of each job change. What are your weaknesses or areas of improvement? Everyone has a weakness! Do not be afraid to give one, but be careful. This direct invitation to put your head in a noose. Decline the invitation by giving a generalized answer that takes advantage of value keys. Design the answer so that your weakness is ultimately a positive characteristic. For example: “l enjoys my work and always gives each project my best efforts. So when l feels others are not pulling their weight, l finds it a little frustrating. I am aware of this weakness, and in these situations l try to overcome it with a positive attitude that usually catches on.” Try not to speak of weaknesses rather say: “the areas where I would like to improve on are ….”

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What interests you least about this job? This question is potentially explosive, but easily defused. Regardless of your occupation, there is at least one repetitive, mindless duty that everyone groans about and which goes with the territory. Use that as your example in a statement of this nature: “filing is probably the least demanding part of my present job. However, it is also a critical part of the job, saving our department both time and money if done efficiently. Everybody has certain tasks that they do not enjoy, however if you look at the end results, they are worth doing.”

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What salary are you worth, and why?  Do not leave the impression you are changing for money (even if you are!) you can answer: “l am looking for a job and a company that l can settle down in and make a meaningful contribution. If l am the right person for you, the offer you make me will be a fair one.” Or can say: “l would like to receive which is fair and 7

in line with other employees in comparable positions within the organisation. A fair remuneration!” (n) Why are you going down in salary / why would you accept a lower salary?  You can answer: “to me money is not everything – it depends on the company, the position and the responsibility the job carries. Having said that you must also remember that the salary l was receiving at ABC Company before l was retrenched/resigned etc was above market average; therefore l was expecting to have to adjust my salary expectations when looking for a new position” (o)  How long would you stay within the company The interviewer might be thinking of offering you a job. So you must encourage her or him to sell you on the job. Your reply might be: l would really like to settle down with this company. As long as l am growing professionally, there is no reason for me to make a move. You can also say: “forever! If l am able to prove myself to your company and l receive the recognition and growth, l would not contemplate any change.”

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Interest in the position When asked about your interest in the position, answer in the affirmative – even if you have some doubts. Having given a negative response it will be difficult to convince a potential employer of your change of mind once the interview has ended. Never decline a job offer immediately. There might be room for negotiation. Go back to the consultant and discuss any problems. Accept immediately if you like the offer. If they offer the position to you and you like it, take it immediately! Only if you really have to think about it say that you or the recruitment agency will come back to the company the next day (be specific) and that you would like to think it through carefully, but you appreciate this interview and you are very interested in the position and in the company. Last impressions are almost as important as the first impressions. The way you leave the interview may be the way you are remembered. Thank the interviewer/s for their time and give a firm handshake before leaving Any Questions?

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Towards the end of the interview the interviewer will usually ask if you any questions. You should think of two or three questions. It shows you are interested and enthusiastic. Think about asking questions, relating to your 8

future colleagues, and training or, of course, the basic terms and conditions of the job. Do not talk about salaries, working hours, holidays unless the employer brings up the subject. If asked about salary, stay open. If you ask for a salary the company will think that this is all that you are interested in and will not appreciate the question. Below are some of the possible questions that you may ask. Questions for office support positions  What kind of manager am I going to work with? How does he operate, what does his like/not like?  You can also ask the interviewer about him or herself, how long have they been there, etc. Remember that the person you are going to have to report to is also human and it helps if they like you personally. Make a friend of the interviewer. You can create questions from any of the following:  What is the reason for the vacancy? Who had it last, and what happened to her or him? Did she or he get promoted or fired? How many people have held this position in the last couple of years? What happened to them subsequently?  To whom would you report? Will you get the opportunity to meet that person?  Would I need to learn more skills?  What type of training is required, and how long is it? Will the company provide this training?  What are the realistic chances for growth in the job? Where are the opportunities for greatest growth within the company?  What are the skills and attributes most needed to get on in the company?  How did the company master the last/current recession?  What has been the growth pattern of the company over the last five years: ls it profitable? How profitable/  How regularly do performance appraisals occur? What model do they follow?  What are the jobs relationships to other departments?  How do the job and the department relate to corporate aim?  What is the major importance of the positions?  What is the objective of the organisation in general?  What is (are) the (biggest) challenge (s) in the position? Questions for more senior positions:  What is the background of the company?  What is the organisation structure of the company? 9

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What is the organisation structure of the division l would be joining? What is the turnover? (For positions in Financial Management) you could say, “l wont be offended, if you do not want to answer this questions.” Do not take it negatively if the interviewer does not want to disclose this information. How did the recession affect your company? What was your company’s growth pattern over the last few years? What is the market share of your company? What is your corporate culture? What is the company’s management style? What computer system do you use? Software?

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