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Job Seeking: Before Interview

An interview is essentially a performance. As with all performances, your success depends on careful preparation and practice. A lack of preparation will be all too apparent to the interview panel, and a poorly prepared interviewee is likely to leave disappointed.

There are many things you can do before a job interview that will make the experience positive. While you cannot control the outcome, careful preparation can help create the most favourable impression possible.

Remember the old adage: “Fail to prepare and be prepared to fail.”

Anticipating Questions

You know you'll be expected to respond to questions during an interview — from one or more interviewers. Try to anticipate the questions they're likely to ask and prepare the answers you might give. You can check your list against the Sample Questions that appear in the next learning section.

  1. Make a list of questions that you think you may be asked, grouping them under the following headings:
    • Yourself — your knowledge, skills and experience; and
    • The role — your motivation and potential contribution.
  2. Select one anticipated question and write out the main points you'd like to include in your answer.
  3. Ask a friend or family member to pose your questions in a mock interview, so that you can practice your responses in advance. Print your list of questions and ask your friend to record whether they feel your answers are:
    • Concise
    • Understandable
    • comprehensive.

Breathing Exercises

When you're nervous your breathing becomes shallow. This starves the brain of vital oxygen. To help you relax, follow this simple deep-breathing technique a few minutes before a job interview:

  1. Stand, if you can.
  2. Inhale slowly, breathing from the diaphragm, and try to fill your lungs as completely as possible. Try to do this naturally, without a lot of forced effort.
  3. After a count of three, slowly exhale through the mouth.
  4. Don't overdo it; you don't want to hyperventilate.
  5. Do this exercise gently for three or four minutes. With practice, you'll be able to do it without others noticing.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.

Dress Code

When applying for a job, you need to consider the dress code of the organization you're interested in. If you're applying for a job where you haven't worked before, try to visit the location beforehand to see what other people are wearing in positions similar to the one that you seek.

Think about the symbolism of the clothes you wear. Clothes can convey personal values such as neatness, cleanliness and professionalism.

Most interviews require interviewees to be smartly dressed. This may mean a suit, but it doesn't necessarily mean you should rush off to buy a new outfit for the interview — especially if wearing something new makes you feel uncomfortable.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.

Arrive on Time

Careful planning includes preparing to arrive at an interview in plenty of time. You want to avoid creating any anxiety. Follow these simple tips:

  • Plan your route. Allow time for unexpected delays such as traffic jams.
  • Practise the route if necessary.
  • Get a good night's sleep before the interview.
  • Leave plenty of time to prepare on the day, allowing for personal preparation and a final mental rehearsal.
  • Make sure you have any necessary documentation that has been requested.

Visit your portfolio and record what you have learned.