Interviews are often listed as one of the most stressful situations in which a person can find themselves - along with moving house and having a baby. This does seem a little disproportionate though; an interview, after all, is little more than a conversation between two or three people that is probably over in less than two hours. Yet we continue to worry about them, losing sleep over what questions might be asked or what would happen if your mind went blank.

Admittedly, a lot might be riding on the outcome of an interview: increased earnings, the chance to relocate, the opportunity for a better life, thus it's natural to feel a bit nervous. However, with the right preparation, there's no need to feel out of your depth.

Here's how to prepare for your job interview:

Research

Astonishingly, some candidates will turn up at an interview having done no prior research whatsoever and when asked 'what do you know about the company?', are unable to answer. This is, of course, not viewed favourably. With the internet available to most people, there is no excuse not to do some research. Learn the basics about your prospective employer; find out exactly what they do, where they have bases, what their mission statement is. Doing so demonstrates that you really do want to work for the company.

While on the internet, you could search for relevant interview questions as an example of what you could be asked. There are no guarantees that those questions will come up, but being able to answer them will make you feel far more confident going into the room.

Advice 

The chances are that you have landed this interview via an employment agency. If so, your consultant will be able to give you lots of useful advice and guidance; so use their knowledge. Whether an expert in hospitality, business, retail or marketing recruitment, the consultant will have a fair idea of the interview process, who you'll be meeting and possibly an idea of the topics that will be discussed on the day. Don't let this valuable resource go ignored - ask for advice and take it into account when preparing.

Job description

You should have seen or received a job description along with the job advert. This lays out clearly exactly the kind of person that is being sought: the skills, experience and behaviours that are necessary. It is essential that applicants use these documents to anticipate the line of questioning.

Most interviews follow a competency format, wherein candidates are asked to give an example of a time when they have demonstrated a particular behaviour. These behaviours will usually appear on the job description and may include communication, attention to detail, team leadership and influencing skills, to name but a few. A typical question might therefore be: 'give me an example of a time when you've had to persuade a difficult customer to come round to your way of thinking' - incorporating both communication and influencing skills. It is imperative that interviewees pay close attention to the job description and write up examples for each listed competency.

By following the above, plus turn up looking smart, you should increase not only your confidence at interviews but also your chances of progressing to the next round. Good luck!

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