Interviews

Sell yourself at an interview

All your prospective employer knows about you is the information presented in your application form and CV. An interview, while seeming scary, is an opportunity for you to really sell yourself.

Selling yourself rarely comes naturally. But self-promotion is also a critical skill that needs developing over time.

Use every opportunity you can to build these skills – your school or college might offer presentation skills courses or may have a debating society that you can become involved with.

Your CV

You will be asked to back up your application form and CV with hard evidence such as certificates, letters and references etc, so be prepared.

If you feel that you have had little formal work experience, try to think of things you have done in your personal life that you could use for examples.

Have you:

  • Helped organise any events?
  • Done anything for charity or voluntary work?
  • Babysat?
  • Had a paper round?

Jot all these down and try to think in advance what skills you needed to do these things.

Preparation is key!

Prepare for the interview by drawing up a checklist. This will help to calm you down and focus on what you need to do:-

  • If your interview information has been sent by letter, ring up and confirm that the time and date is okay for you.
  • During your confirmation call find out exactly where the interview will be held and what it will be like – will it be a panel, will there be any tests.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get there, check out bus or train times in advance or whether it is easy to park.
  • Decide what to wear – make sure what you choose is clean and smart but comfortable too.
  • Find out about the company (ie Sainsburys) and the sector (Retail) to show you are interested in that field. A few days before keep an eye on the TV news and read the newspapers in case there is a big story relating to the field you are going into.
  • Read through your application form and CV. Think about what questions an interviewer might ask and come up with some replies
  • Finally, try to go to bed at a reasonable time the night before so that you are fresh on the day.

The Interview Itself

Arrive at least 5 minutes before your allotted time and make sure you have all your evidence in a folder.

Shake hands when introduced.

You should know in advance whether the interview will be a panel – this will usually be 2-4 people.

You will be told who everyone is and one person will chair the interview. All the panel members may ask questions and it is important that you maintain eye contact with the person who has asked the question.

The interview may be one-to-one – again concentrate and maintain eye contact with the interviewer

What to expect

A good interviewer will always try to put you at your ease by asking you simple questions about who you are, what you have been doing recently etc. This should help you relax.

If it is a larger recruitment day you might be asked to undertake group work with other applicants to see how you work within a team.

There could also be a wider range of tests – personality, aptitude or specific abilities like working with IT.

But remember, you won’t be surprised by what the interview is about as during your preparation you will have already checked this out!

Who can help?

Talk to your family and friends about their experiences.

The Connexions careers database, www.connexions-direct.com/jobs4u, can also help you to get an idea of what different employers expect from their employees.

Job Centre Plus can help you with a whole range of careers and job-seeking services – from help finding a job, to improving or updating skills, advice and support if you’ve got a health condition or disability, and even financial help with your rent.

Find out more on the Directgov website. If you’re unemployed and available for work, you might be entitled to benefits. You can find more detailed information on the Directgov website.

Remploy Interwork is the specialist recruitment division of Remploy Ltd, the UK’s largest provider of jobs for disabled people. They can be found at www.remploy.co.uk/.