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Interview Tips

Research the organization This will put you ahead in the employers mind.  Go to their website and/or ask anyone if they know anyone who works there or used to and talk to them. Become familiar with history, purpose and goals of the company.  Knowledge of the company will give you an advantage.
Observe the 50 – 50 rule Studies reveal that in general people who get hired are those who mix speaking and listening fifty-fifty in the interview. 
Be part of the solution Every organization has two main preoccupations; the problems they are facing and what solutions people are coming up with.  Prior to the interview think about how would a ‘bad’ employee mess up and emphasize during the interview how you are the very opposite.
Bring evidence if you can Any evidence/proof of skills and achievements will make an impact.
Never bad-mouth previous employers Bad-mouthing a previous employer only makes this employer worry about what you would say about them after they hire you.
Use the interview to gather more info about the company An interview is like going on a date - two people need to size each other up before even talking about “going steady”. You must decide if you really want to work there and not only focus on selling yourself in the interview.
Employers are as scared as you are during the interview The Employer knows that the hiring interview is not a very reliable way to choose an employee.  One survey conducted in the UK revealed that an interview was only 3% more effective in selecting the right candidate than picking a name out of a hat.
The 5 questions that really matter Even if these aren’t overtly asked these questions lurk beneath the surface throughout the interview.

“Why are you here?”  They mean by this, “Why are you knocking on my door, rather than someone else’s door?”

“What can you do for us?”  They mean by this, “If I were to hire you, would you be part of the problems I have, or would you be a part of the solution?  What are your skills, and how much do you know about a subject or field that is of interest to us?”

“What kind of person are you?” They mean by this, “Do you have the kind of personality that makes it easy for people to work with you, and do you share the values we have?”

“What distinguishes you from nineteen other people who can do the same tasks that you can?”  They mean by this, “Do you have better work habits than the other candidates, do you show up earlier, stay later, work more thoroughly, work faster, maintain a higher standard, go the extra mile, or … what?”

“Can I afford you?”  They mean by this, “If we decide we want you here, how much will it take to get you, and are we willing and able to pay that amount?

The most important questions you need answers to “What does this job involve?”  You want to understand exactly what tasks will be asked of you, so that you can determine if these are the kinds of tasks you would really like to do.

“What are the skills a top employee in this job would have to have?”  You want to know if your skills match those which the employer needs in order to do this job well.

“Are these the kinds of people I would like to work with, or not?”  Do not ignore your intuition if it tells you that you would not be comfortable working with these people!! 

“If we like each other, and want to work together, can I persuade them there is something unique about me that differentiates me from the other candidates?”  You need to think way ahead of time what makes you different.  For example, if you are good at analyzing problems, how do you do that?  Painstakingly?  Intuitively, in a flash? 

“Can I persuade them to hire me at the salary I want?”  This requires some knowledge on your part of how to conduct salary negotiation.  See salary negotiations further below.

Interviews are lost to “mosquitoes” rather than dragons and are lost within first two minutes Many people lose opportunities because of apparently small reasons like for example … bad breath.  Avoid the following:
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Limp handshake
  • Slouching, fidgeting, playing with your hair
  • Speaking too softly or too loudly.
  • Extremely hesitant to answer.
  • One-word answers.
  • Constantly interrupting.
  • Being self-critical.
  • Showing a lack of courtesy to receptionist/secretary etc.
  • Not thanking the interviewer.
  • Any sign of arrogance or aggressiveness.
  • Not being punctual on failing to keep an appointment.
  • Blaming/complaining.
  • Any sign of dishonesty.
  • Any sign of not following instructions/obeying rules.
  • Any sign of instability.


  • If male, you have freshly bathed, have your face freshly shaved or your hair and beard freshly trimmed, have clean fingernails, and are using a deodorant. You have on freshly laundered clothes, pants with a sharp crease, and shoes freshly polished.
  • If female, you have freshly bathed, have not got tons of makeup on your face; have had your hair newly ‘permed’ or ‘coiffed’, have clean or nicely manicured fingernails, that don’t stick out ten inches from your fingers; and are using a deodorant. You are wearing a bra; have on freshly cleaned clothes such as a suit or less daring clothes. In these days of sexual harassment lawsuits – daring clothes make many employers, male and female, very nervous. 
  • You are not wafting tons of after-shave cologne or perfume fifteen feet ahead of you, as you enter the room.
  • You do not have bad breath, do not dispense gallons of garlic, onion, stale tobacco, or the odour of strong drink, into the enclosed office air, but have brushed and flossed your teeth.
A question you must ask before closing the interview


Before you let the interview end, you should consider asking

1. “When may I expect to hear from you?”  You never want to leave control of the ensuing steps in this process in the hands of the employer.  You want it in your own hands.  If the employer says, “We need time to think about this,’ or “We will be calling you for a second interview,” you don’t want to leave this as an undated good intention on the employer’s part.  You want to nail it down.

ALWAYS send a thank you note. Every expert on interviewing will tell you two things:

1. Thank-you notes must be sent after every interview.

2. Most job-hunters ignore this advice.  Indeed, it is safe to say that it is the most overlooked step in the entire job-hunting process.

If you want to stand out from the others applying for the same job, send thank-you-notes – to everyone you met there, that day.  Here are reasons for sending a thank-you note, most particularly to the employer who interviewed you:

  • You were presenting yourself as one who has good skills with people.  Your actions with respect to the job-interview must back this claim up.
  • It helps the employer to remember you.
  • If a committee is involved in the hiring process, the one man or woman who interviewed you has something to show the rest of the committee.
  • If the interview went rather well, and the employer seemed to show an interest in further talks, the thank-you letter can reiterate your interest in further talks. 
  • The thank-you note gives you an opportunity to correct any wrong impression you left behind you.  You can add anything you forgot to tell them, that you want them to know. 
  • If the interview did not go well, and you lost all interest in working there, they may still hear of other openings, elsewhere, that might be of interest to you.  In the thank-you note, you can mention this, and ask them to keep you in mind.  Thus, from kindly interviewers, you may gain additional leads.
The secrets of successful salary negotiations Never discuss salary until the end of the interviewing process when they have definitely said they want you …

When to discuss salary?

  • Not until they’ve gotten to know you, at your best.
  • Not until you’ve gotten to know them, so you can tell when they’re being firm, or when they’re flexible.
  • Not until you’ve found out exactly what the job entails.
  • Not until they’ve had a chance to find out how well you match the job-requirements.
  • Not until you’re in the final interview.
  • Not until you’ve decided, “I’d really like to work here.”
  • Not until they’ve said, “We want you.”

If the employer raises the salary question earlier, in some form like “What kind of salary are you looking for?” you should have three types of responses at your fingertips; responses could be:

1.“Until you’ve decided you definitely want me, and I’ve decided I definitely could help you with your tasks here, I feel any discussion of salary is premature.” 

2. “I’ll gladly come to that, but could you first help me to understand what this job involves?”

3.“I’m looking for a salary in the range of R 35 – 45, 000 a year.”

If the employer won’t let it go until later, then consider what this means.  Clearly, you are being interviewed by an employer who has no range in mind.  Their beginning figure is their ending figure.  No negotiation is possible.

If you run into this situation, and you want the job badly enough, you will have no choice but to capitulate.  Ask what salary they have in mind, and make your decision.  (Of course you should always say, “I need a little time, to think about this.”)

Purpose of salary negotiations is to uncover the most that an employer is willing to pay to get you.

Every employer has a salary range in mind; you have every right to try to discover what the highest point of that salary range is.  The Employer will always start lower and negotiate from there…

During salary discussions try never to be the first one to mention a salary figure. Whoever mentions a figure first in salary negotiation generally loses.  You should respond by asking, “What do you have in mind?” 

Before you go to the interview do some homework on how much you will need if offered this job. Before you go to the interview, do research on typical salaries for your skills. Try to get hold of salary surveys or talk to people in the industry.  What are similar positions being advertised for?

Greatest mistakes made in job interviews
  • Doing no homework on an organization before going there.
  • Letting your resume/cv be used as an agenda for the interview.
  • Talking primarily about yourself and what benefit the job will be to you.
  • When answering a question, talking longer than 2 minutes at a time.
  • Approaching them as if you were a job beggar.
  • Not sending a thank you note right after the interview.

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