Whatever other advice is given about interviewing, above all you must be honest. An interview is not an opportunity for you to spend an hour bluffing. Many interviewers are trained in body language and you will doubtless give yourself away if you spend the vast majority of the time inventing fairy tales. However, this does not mean that you should parade all your negative characteristics in front of the interviewer.
To begin with:
A knowledge of the kind of questions that will be asked should help you to prepare. You will need to think out in advance the answers to each question, and decide which characteristic or attributes you should bring out for each job. Look at the application form again to refresh your memory about what you have already told the organization. Don’t give monosyllabic answers.
Get your facts right. Check with your CV so that you can remember the order and dates of your jobs. Muddling these will make you sound confused and vague.
Although you need to think through the answers to questions and should practice them aloud, don’t learn them parrot fashion. A recital is liable to be boring and unconvincing rather than natural and spontaneous. Role-play and practice will help, particularly if you tend to be nervous beforehand.
Listening is important. Make sure that you understand what has been asked. If you are not sure, ask for clarification. Be positive and enthusiastic about the job. Your tone of voice will give you away if you sound very enthusiastic about your hobbies but answer questions of your potential employment in a monotone. Don’t lecture and show a sense of humour if possible. If you are able to lighten the discussion, it will create a good impression and help you to relax. Show that you can laugh – but not too much. Don’t sound too timid – timidity and shyness are often seen as signs of weakness.
Keep your answers brief and concise whilst still imparting all the relevant information. You should communicate technical information simply, without using jargon and without assuming that your interviewer is an expert on the subject.
Don’t give yourself away
Never volunteer information about your weaknesses, though you must be prepared to discuss these if asked. If you have nothing special to say, say nothing. Give an overview of the jobs that you have performed rather than a blow-by-blow account. Remember to keep your responses relevant to the posts you have applied for, too.
Don’t apologize for your background – you will need to sound positive about all aspects of yourself. It is no good inspiring pity, if you intend to look sought-after by others.
Don’t criticize your previous employers
Never be over critical of your current or last employer. Don’t complain that the boss didn’t recognize your skills, superior qualities etc., that you didn’t get a promotion you richly deserved or that you were deprived of variety in your job. Apart from the fact that this irritates interviewers and they will seldom believe you, they will assume that you will say the same kind of things when you leave their company, and they don’t want that.
Don’t talk about politics or religion unless you are sure that the interviewer will agree with your viewpoint. Don’t ask about the salary straight away, for this will sound as if you are more interested in the money than the job.