Interviews (Full info)

Be prepared

Interviews can be scary experiences and the only way to quell your fears is to follow the advice of the girl guide movement and ‘be prepared’.

The best place to start is by finding out as much about the company as possible. Ring the company’s marketing department and get them to send you a copy of the annual report. You don’t have to be a whizz with figures. Use it to find useful nuggets of information that you can drop into conversation at your interview. Another good tip is to look up the company’s website which is likely to be full of background information, history and up-to-date news. The more you know before your interview, the more confident you’ll feel and appear.

Think of the questions you’re likely to be asked and brainstorm some answers. One way to do this is by mind-mapping – a system developed by neuro-psychologist Tony Buzan in the 1970s, which recognises that we don’t think in a linear way. In simple terms, it means taking a piece of paper and writing a central theme in the centre, out of which irradiate several little lines. Then, for each line write down a question that occurs to you and think about how you’d answer it positively.

It’s also a good idea to get some practice under your belt. Ask your nearest and dearest to run through a mock interview with you and give you honest feedback on how you look and sound.

You may be more knowledgeable about the company than the managing director, but when it comes to the interview itself no amount of preparation can prevent the butterflies in your stomach, the dryness in your throat and the pounding of your heart.

A little adrenalin is healthy, but you don’t want to appear like a startled rabbit caught in the headlights. So try to keep it in perspective: an interview is not a firing squad. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t get the job. Take sensible precautions: wear something comfortable, leave yourself plenty of time to get there, use the toilet before you go in and ask for a glass of water (in case your lips stick to your teeth). A few quiet deep breathing exercises will make you look and feel less agitated.

Before you go into the interview visualise success. Imagine yourself sitting there being cool, calm and collected and answering all the questions. Visualise someone coming up to you at the end and saying “That was fantastic, you’ve definitely got the job.” The idea is to make yourself feel more relaxed – you don’t want to come across as cocky or too laid back.

It’s unlikely you’ll get the first job you’re interviewed for, or that you’ll be offered a job after just one interview, so you’re probably going to have to go through the process all over again. What’s more, unless you stay in the same job for the rest of your life, you’ll face many more nerve-racking interviews during the course of your career. The good news is that you will get better at it – practice doesn’t make perfect, but it helps. And comfort yourself with this thought: in a few years’ time it might be you sitting on the other side of the desk.


Body language

Mike has never forgotten his first interview for a job in PR. He looked the part, had done his research and was confident he could answer any questions the interviewer might throw at him. Then fate took a hand (his, unfortunately) – and it all went horribly wrong:”I rapped firmly on the door, walked in, smiled and sat down,” he recalls. “The interview was going brilliantly until I glanced down and noticed blood literally pouring from my knuckles. I must have cut my hand on the nameplate on the door when I knocked. I froze: had the interviewer seen? Had I got blood on him? Did I need stitches? I fumbled in my pocket for a tissue and tried to mop up the blood, while continuing to answer his questions. He pretended not to notice, but I could tell he wasn’t impressed. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.”

Accidents will happen – but Mike’s experience illustrates an important point: however qualified, experienced and well rehearsed you are, you won’t impress an interviewer if your body lets you down. You may have the eloquence of a politician and a vocabulary to rival Shakespeare’s, but the story your body language tells is as important as anything that comes out of your mouth.

As for those little embellishments on your CV (“I was captain of the rugby team, student union president and Nelson Mandela’s pen-friend, honest”), you can rehearse the details all you like, but you won’t be able to disguise the facial reddening, sweating and toe curling that proclaim: “I’m a big fat liar”.

It’s almost 30 years since research by American psychologist Mehrabian revealed that the content of what you say only counts for 7% of your credibility. Non-verbal cues, such as the tone of your voice, count for 38%. But visual cues ¿ facial expressions, gestures, pupil dilation etc ¿ make up a massive 55% of your credibility rating.

To make matters worse, while most of us can control what we say, we have little power over our body language. It’s reckoned that we each have a ‘vocabulary’ of about 138,000 non-verbal and visual cues, but we can only control 150-200 of them ¿ and we can only do that for about 15-20% of the time.

And being a bit of a bright spark won’t help ¿ the more intelligent and articulate you are, the more focused you’ll be on what you’re saying, making your non-verbal cues even more noticeable.

In an ideal world nobody would be shy, have facial ticks or apply for jobs when they’d rather be down the pub. But it isn’t. So how can you make sure you sail through the interview process? You could hire an actor to stand in for you at your interview (method actors have got the body language game sewn up). Or you could just teach your body to behave itself.

It’s not as hard as it sounds – after all, you’ve already learned not to spit or clutch your privates in public (footballers are a special case). All you need is a mirror, a video-camera and a cat.

Most people have no idea how other people see them. They don’t see their habitual expressions and they can’t tell if their words are backed up by the tone of their voice and posture.

When you prepare for an interview it’s important not just to practise what you have to say, but how you say it. The best way to see how you appear to others is to practise in front of a mirror. If you can, you should videotape yourself and ask friends for feedback. If there’s nobody around, practise with your cat. The more prepared you are, the more relaxed and confident you’ll feel – and appear.

When it comes to the interview itself, adopt an open posture. Sit up comfortably and lean slightly forwards so you look alert and attentive. Breathe slowly. And make sure your clothes aren’t too tight: it won’t give a good impression if you make a gesture and your jacket buttons fly off. Just remember the mnemonic ‘ROLE’, which stands for relaxed, open, leaning and eye contact.

You have more control of your body language above the waist, so beware of ‘leakage’ lower down – such as picking your fingers or twitching your feet. This type of behaviour can make you look unconfident. And yes, it is a good idea to visit the loo before your interview, particularly if you’re nervous.

There is no point attempting to lie – or exaggerate – in an interview. Just be yourself. If you say what you mean and mean what you say your verbal and non-verbal communication will match. Any interviewer worth his salt is interested in who you really are.


Questions to ask

Job hunters are always being told to ask one or two killer questions in an interview. But how exactly do you go about doing this?

Before you pick and choose from the following top 10, be sure to consider the culture of the organisation you are hoping to join and the nature of the person doing the selecting. Be careful too to adopt the right tone and to convey a positive attitude. You want to ensure this opportunity works for you, not against you.

1. “What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the role?” This can show that you like to know what sort of challenge you are going to face and that you like to get properly prepared for it, all in the expectation of being able to rise to it.

2. “You mentioned there will be a lot of presenting/researching/liaising; what do your most successful people find most satisfying about this part of the role?” This question can serve two purposes. It can demonstrate your listening skills. Also, it can associate you with being successful in the role and finding it satisfying.

3. “What types of training opportunities can you offer?” This is one of the classic questions as it can highlight that you are keen to advance your skills and add further value to a company.

4. “Is there a chance for promotion in the future?” This is another classic question, and in a similar vein. It can emphasise a determination to make progress and to do so over the long term.

5. “Can you please tell me how the role relates to the overall structure of the organisation?” With this question you are drawing attention to a preference for teamwork. It looks as though you want to know where you would fit in and how your contribution would affect the rest of the company.

6. “How would you describe the work culture here?” Here you are signalling that you want to be able to operate at your optimum and understand that for this you require a positive environment. In turn, this can indicate you are a good self-manager who is aware of how to get the best out of yourself.

7. “In what way is performance measured and reviewed?” This question can flag up that you appreciate the importance of delivering real results. You can be seen to be someone who understands the value of commitment, reliability and returns.

8. “What are the most important issues that you think your organisation will face?” or “You have recently introduced a new product/service/division/project; how will this benefit the organisation?” These variations both show that you are interested not just in the job but in the employer behind it. It will be apparent you have done some research, done some thinking, and are now eager to hear their analysis.

9. “May I tell you a little more about my particular interest in communicating with clients/developing new ideas/implementing better systems …” Okay, so this is a cheeky and obvious way of getting permission to blow your own trumpet but then that’s what this interview is all about.

10. “Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?” This is a rather more brazen way of emphasising some of your strengths. It suggests you are open to constructive criticism and willing to learn from the experience of others. In addition, it gives you a real chance to address any weaknesses the interviewee may think you have. Finally, it allows you to finish on a high, re-stating why you think you are the right person.


Tough questions

Some questions just floor you. No matter how much preparation you’ve done, wandering around their website and reading the Financial Times for weeks, there are interview questions which will turn your well-modulated voice into a gibbering babble.

Management consultancies are famed for asking horribly long-winded questions requiring weeks of preparatory work. One currently being asked by one firm involves a failing airline, reward cards and the tourism potential of a small South American country. Another has asked interviewees to choose between being reincarnated as a rabbit or a snake. Quick! A slimy reptile or a stupid fluffyhead? Think, think!

But according to the recruitment professionals, there are ways to prepare for and tackle the unknown. The key is remembering that all interviewers – however fiendishly mean their questions – want to hire you. They want to fill the post and they want to reassure themselves they’ve picked the right shortlist. Even when they do the “good cop, bad cop” routine, as Michael, a computer analyst for an investment bank, remembers.

“One would ask me something perfectly reasonable about my degree course, while the other would leap forward and say something like ‘do you mean to say the course contained no business modelling? How will you be able to do this job without it!’ I felt like my integrity was being challenged and I became quite defensive, crossing my arms and almost arguing with him,” Michael recounts. “I suspect they were testing me under pressure – and it worked.”

Interview pressure can be worse than anything they throw at you on the job. Some questions tend to pop up again and again and “Tell me something about yourself” is one of them: a green light to babble on about your love of wood-whittling and Renaissance poetry. Resist the urge! Focus on the three or four key things on your CV you want them to remember and talk about those.

“Where do you see yourself in five years time?” is another classic, but it’s surprising how many of us flounder about and mumble something like: “Oh, doing this job and really enjoying it.” The interviewer may be easily pleased, but they’re more likely to chalk you up as a low-achiever or unimaginative.

You could take the opposite tack and answer “Doing your job”: bold, but risky. A better, if vague, answer is: “Building on my successes here and moving up within the company.”

But some can’t be dodged by mellifluous generalisations. Fiendishly technical questions – “What would you deduce from a down-swing in the energy current and a fluctuation of ohm levels, followed by a faint burning smell?” may either have to be bluffed through with confidence – or with a simple admission that you don’t know.

Asking a question about the question will give you time to think. There will always be questions that have the potential to leave you gaping and blank. But it helps to keep in mind that the motivation for all questions boils down to three basic tenets: can you do the job, will you do the job and will you fit in here?

Angling answers to the first by telling them about your skills and abilities, the second by demonstrating enthusiasm and the third with your track record of teamwork will help keep you focused under pressure.

Some more favourite tough questions:
1. Why do you want to work here?
2. Describe for us your ethics.
3. Why are manhole covers round?
4. Tell me how you handled a confrontation with a co-worker
5. What went wrong in your last job, then?
6. Describe a situation in which your work was criticised.
7. Tell us about the last time you lost your temper.
8. If you were the boss, what would you change about this company?


More tough questions

Here’s how to answer seven of the deadliest interview questions.

1. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What not to say:
Complete honesty is not advisable (admitting you have a drink problem or a roving eye won’t win you any points). Say you have no weaknesses and you’ll appear arrogant and devoid of self-awareness. And reciting a long, obviously prepared list of your admirable qualities won’t do you any favours either.

What to say:
The interviewer is looking for someone who is realistic about their strengths and candid about their weaknesses. You need to come up with examples to back up your claims of strengths and be able to describe the actions you take to prevent your weaknesses from manifesting themselves. So, if for example, being disorganised is your problem, explain how you’ve learnt to make lists and prioritise.

2. What achievement are you most proud of?

What not to say:
Passing grade eight piano might be your proudest moment. And you’re doubtless pretty chuffed that you sailed through your GCSEs without reading a single book. But the interviewer doesn’t really want to know that. The general rule is: if it isn’t a skill relevant to the job you’re going for (or it portrays you in a bad light), leave it out.

What to say:
Think of something you achieved using skills you can transfer to the workplace. Have you ever worked under pressure to meet a deadline or organise an event? Or have you managed a budget, however tiny, either at university or during a summer job? Show off the skills you have. Save sentiment for your wedding speech.

3. What do you like doing outside of work?

What not to say:
The truth (watching Eastenders, getting pissed, playing with your PlayStation 2). We all do it, but don’t highlight it. Don’t witter on about your wonderful family/partner or you may give the impression that you’re not willing to work long hours when necessary.

What to say:
Research the employer to discover the sort of people they’re looking for. If, for example, their website says they possess a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, you might say, “quite a few of my colleagues at work are also my friends outside of work. So we like to have the occasional drink/meal out together.” Mentioning that you play a team sport is also a good idea. Some interviewers believe candidates who play team sports are also more likely to be good team players.

4. The trick question: “Sell me the pencil/notebook I’m holding:”

What not to say:
“That’ll be 50p, please.” Don’t look shocked or disdainful and don’t start laughing. This is a poor question which aims to see how you deal with a question you can’t have prepared for and how you react under stress. It doesn’t actually test anything because, unless you’re going to become a pencil salesman, it’s irrelevant to the job.

What to say:
It may be a rubbish question, but you have to deal with it. Try to work out what’s going on in the interviewer’s head by asking questions e.g. “Do you mean I’m a salesman for a pencil company and you’re a potential customer or do you just want me to talk about the qualities of the pencil?” There’s no right or wrong answer.

5. Would you ever break the rules to get a job done?

What not to say:
“Rules are made to be broken.” You want to prove you’re flexible, not a troublemaker. “Never.” Only automatons are saintly. Be careful À there’s a critical difference between breaking a rule once to benefit your organisation and breaking rules repeatedly because you find them restrictive.

What to say:
Explain that you’d break a rule only in response to an opportunity or challenge needing a quick reaction to save the company from losing out. Finish by saying that you’d go straight to your boss and tell them about the incident.

6. Have you ever been fired?

What not to say:
Don’t lie. Don’t slag off your previous employer.

What to say:
Give good reasons why it happened. There are two good ways of getting round this question. The first is to blame your underperformance on personal circumstances such as ill health, and stress that they are now completely resolved. The second is to admit you made a wrong career decision. You thought the job would involve x and y, when it actually involved a, b and c. So you lost your motivation and deserved to be fired. But you’ve learned your lesson: you’re doing lots of research into this job and understand its demands, so you’ll never lose enthusiasm for it.

7. The illegal question: Do you have/want kids?

What not to say:
“That’s none of your business.” Under European Union legislation interviewers may only ask questions that can be directly related to the job at hand. Questions about personal circumstances that have no impact on your ability to do your job are illegal. If an employer asks, they’re probably ignorant about the law.

What to say:
It depends how much you want the job. You could say “I’m not answering that as it’s discriminatory”, but you’re likely to blow your chances. If you really want the job it’s best just to answer the question honestly and then explain why it’s not a problem/won’t affect your performance.


Multiple interviews

Andrew was justifiably confident of landing a job in a top city marketing firm. Although faced with a third interview, the Nottingham University graduate had come through two gruelling sessions with flying colours and had notched up almost six hours of interview time. What more could they possibly want to know?

But it was the third interview where things went wrong for Andrew. The first session had consisted of him, two other candidates, and two interviewers and was designed to gauge knowledge and experience as well as teamwork. The second was a more personal one-to-one format and ascertained whether the company liked him and deemed him a suitable colleague. So what was the point of the third interrogation? It covered much of the same ground but had a good cop/bad cop routine thrown in for good measure. Andrew didn’t get the job and appears to have been scarred by the process.

The Multiple Interview approach is potentially frustrating and disheartening but it’s essential to have the skills to deal with it. Most high-flying companies utilise this technique to some degree (but not all are as bad as MI6 which apparently uses seven interviews).

An effective recruitment strategist will ensure that each interview serves a clearly defined and distinct purpose. And the key to success is to identify and plan for each one as exhaustively as possible. The Civil Service’s initial three interviews take place during a two-day assessment seminar that includes written and practical tests. Each interview lasts 40 minutes with one interviewer.

There are in addition two further interviews: one that tests motivation and management ability, and is an extension of some of the day’s practical tests, and a psychological interview that evaluates personality.

These are fairly typical of the sorts of interview a job-hunter will face in that there are those you can prepare for (intellectual capacity) and those you can’t (management skills and personality). Needless to say, when you are in a position to prepare, do so assiduously. Think beforehand about the questions that are likely to come up. The classic question in the intellectual capacity interview is to ask you to oppose an argument you’ve just put forward.

Even where you can’t prepare, there are still certain points to bear in mind. A psychological interview assesses drive, determination and reliability. What they are looking for is self-awareness – people who have thought about their life and what they’ve learnt from it. The best thing you can do is to ask yourself what challenges you’ve met and how you’ve overcome them.

While the psychological interview is a fairly friendly and informal affair, the management skills interview is more of a challenge – made harder by the fact that there’s little preparation to be done.

The fourth interview is a final round-up test of what you should already have shown. But since it may be a close-run contest, you should view the final interview as a genuine test.

In summary:
1. Prepare well beforehand, particularly the things you’ve been asked to do.
2. Read everything you can about the process and what people are looking for.
3. Anticipate the questions you are likely to get and practise the answers in front of a friend.

Interview jokes

There are two cows in a field, one says: “Mooooo,” the other says: “You cow! I was about to say that.”Not the sort of thing you would imagine saying at an interview but it helped Kelly secure a job as a PR manager.

“The interviewer had been trying to unnerve me all the way through by being really confrontational, then asked me to tell a joke. I later discovered all new starters were expected to repeat the joke that got them the job to everyone in the company on their first day. Obviously only those who managed to come up with something were successful.”

Being asked to do this is becoming common for PR and sales jobs, but is not just confined to them. One of the jokes below was told during an interview for a job with an investment bank.

The standard advice that counsels against telling jokes in interviews is not a lot of use when faced with a request for one. So to make sure you’re prepared, here’s a list of 10 jokes that have resulted in job offers.

The first four are the safest. The next five could receive a mixed response. The final one is an example of what to avoid. Swearing is unanimously regarded as best avoided but worse still is anything that hints at a negative attitude to management – not a laughing matter. Use at your own risk.

Top 10

1. Did you hear about the two men who were stopped by the police for being drunk and disorderly? It turned out that the first had been drinking battery acid and the second had been swallowing fireworks. One was charged and the other was let off.

2. An American was going for a job interview in the English countryside and on the way out he asked a local farmer for directions, “Excuse me dude, could you possibly tell me the quickest way to London?” The farmer said: “You driving or walking, lad?” The American replied: “Driving.” The farmer nodded, saying: “Yup, definitely the quickest way.”

3. I was driving along in my car, when my boss rang up and said: “You’ve been promoted.” That made me swerve a bit. Then he rang up a second time and said: “You’ve been promoted again.” I swerved even more. When he rang a third time and said: “You’re now managing director,” I went into a ditch. A policeman came up and asked: “What happened to you?” I replied: “I careered off the road.”

4. A ragged piece of string went into a pub and asked for a drink. “Are you over 18?” asked the barman. “No,” replied the string, “I’m a frayed knot.”

5. A visitor to a monastery was being shown round by the abbot when a monk shouted out: “64!” All the other monks roared with laughter. Another then called out “15”, again much laughter. “What’s going on?” asked the visitor. “They know each other’s jokes inside out,” said the abbott. “So rather than tell them each time, they’ve numbered them. If one calls out a number, they think of the joke and laugh. Have a go…” The visitor called out “45” and there was a small ripple of polite laughter. “I’m afraid,” said the Abbot, “that’s not very funny, try again.” So the visitor called out “56” and there was uproar. “Must have been a good joke.” “Yes,” said the abbot wiping his eyes. “And we’ve never heard it before.”

6. Why are they putting the accountants at the bottom of the ocean?
They found out that deep down they’re really not so bad.

7. How many social workers does it take to change a light bulb?
None – they form a self-help group called “how to cope with life in the dark”.

8. What do you call a woman with one leg?

9. You can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him much.

10. How many managers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to notice that it needs changing, one to prepare a budget, one to sign it off, one to order it from supplies and one to tell their secretary it needs replacing.

Interview times

“I’m delighted to inform you that you have been short-listed for interview. We are seeing candidates over these two days and as you are the first person I’ve called, you can name your time.”

If you get this phone call, what do you do? The first thing is not to panic and blurt out the first time that comes into your head. The second is to calmly get your diary.

When it comes to picking the time that will offer you the chance to make the biggest impact, there are various schools of thought. Most non-experts automatically assume that it is best to be seen last, but in fact quite the opposite is true, according to those who have experience of recruitment.

According to a former head of personnel at a City merchant bank and veteran of the milk round, the answer to the question largely depends on the candidates themselves, and at what stage they are being interviewed.

“If you are being seen as part of a large group – the interviewer might be seeing 20 people over two days – a few principles apply. I would never opt for the first 9am slot of the day, as there is a good chance the interviewer will be running late. They might be hassled after struggling to find a parking space, or similar, and consequently distracted. The second or third slot of the day is probably the best, as the interviewer will still be fresh but is now entirely focused on what the interviewee is saying. When I was conducting interviews I found I used to get tired around 4pm. For that reason the end of the day is probably also to be avoided if possible.”

Although it sounds obvious, he says, the best time to pick is mostly determined by the candidate themselves. “If they are a morning person and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first thing, they probably won’t sparkle at 4pm – first and foremost pick a time based on that,” he says.

Assuming you make it through the first round of interviews and you are onto the short list, what changes? Certainly, it is quite likely that you will face some sort of testing regime.

Most experts say job-hunters should try and get any testing done in the morning as this is when most people are at their brightest. When it comes to the all-important interview, it’s often better to be seen at the start of the interview process. If you are one of the first your answers are still going to sound fresh and you can be the one to make a good impression and set the standard.

Remember that interviewers will start hearing the same sorts of answers from subsequent candidates, and the more you hear something the less interesting it sounds.

The best interviewers will use a series of techniques such as checklists to get around the ‘fatigue’ element, but even that is prone to the blood sugar levels at certain times of the day.

The slot straight after lunch is probably to be avoided because some people can feel a bit sluggish after eating their lunch, and again in the late afternoon. However, there is some evidence that interviewers can become more relaxed and better disposed to a candidate in the last interview of the day as they know they are about to leave the office.

Once the selection process gets down to the last five or fewer candidates, the time of the interview should becomes less relevant as the best people will shine through whatever time of day it is.

Dry run

When it comes to job interviews are you a textbook example of professionalism? Or do you break all the rules – consciously or otherwise? Take our quiz to find out. Simply go through the questions below and calculate your score by adding up the points given for each answer. Then read about your fate.

1. In preparing for the interview you:
a) Research the company, think about what questions they’ll ask and memorise appropriate answers
b) Re-read your application and double check the job description
c) Fantasise about how you’ll spend your first pay cheque

2. You get to the interview:
a) Five minutes late (but only because the tube broke down)
b) Five minutes early (you planned for possible delays)
c) 15 minutes early, with your boyfriend/girlfriend/bestfriend there for moral support

3. The interviewer goes to shake hands, you:
a) Make eye contact and offer a firm grip
b) Squeeze their hand so tightly their eyes pop out
c) Refuse their hand on the grounds of personal space

4. To start with, the interviewer seems nervous and appears inexperienced. You:
a) Ruthlessly deploy your knowledge of body language, sitting back with steepled fingertips, and wait for them to get their act together
b) Ignore their insecurity as best you can
c) Try to put the interviewer at ease; you smile and ask a few gentle questions

5. Asked about your past experience, you:
a) Reveal you’ve only had two sexual partners but spent a long time with each of them, arguing that quality is better than quantity
b) Explain the skills you’ve developed through university projects, work placements and other responsibilities.
c) Recite what (you hope) it says on your CV

6. Asked about your weaknesses, you:
a) Roll up your shirtsleeves to reveal a rather unimpressive bicep
b) Admit to a tendency to want to get everything done by yesterday
c) Tell them that you struggle with anything technical

7. Asked about any personal strengths, you:
a) Say you’re very interesting
b) Recount last Saturday’s heroic drinking session
c) Explain how your communication abilities help team dynamics

8. Asked about your greatest achievement to date, you reply:
a) Coming second in the school egg and spoon race
b) Winning employee of the month on a work placement scheme
c) Getting through university

9. Asked why you want to join the company, you:
a) Go on about how legendary the Christmas parties are said to be
b) Detail the company’s successes and its plans for the future
c) Simply state it would be a great opportunity

10. Asked about your willingness occasionally to work overtime, you:
a) Say no; overtime is overrated, and besides you’ve got a busy social life
b) Agree instantly; you don’t want to appear uncommitted
c) Say yes; but only if absolutely necessary to meet a deadline

11. Asked about any hobbies, you:
a) Talk about your interests and how they improve your skills
b) Refer to the Masonic handshake you gave them earlier
c) Say you like reading books and going to the cinema

12. Asked if you have any questions, you reply:
a) Where does everyone meet for after work drinks?
b) What are my career prospects with the company?
c) How often are pay rises awarded?

13. To ensure you make a lasting impression you:
a) Lather yourself with aftershave or drench yourself with perfume
b) Finish on a positive note about your suitability for the position
c) Tell them how much you really, really want the job

1. a) 0; b) 5; c) 10
2. a) 5; b) 0; c) 10
3. a) 0; b) 10; c) 5
4. a) 10; b) 5; c) 0
5. a) 10; b) 0; c) 5
6. a) 10; b) 0; c) 5
7. a) 5; b) 10; c) 0
8. a) 10; b) 0; c) 5
9. a) 10; b) 0; c) 5
10. a) 10; b) 0; c) 5
11. a) 0; b) 10; c) 5
12. a) 5; b) 0; c) 10
13. a) 10; b) 5; c) 0

How you scored

You scored 0-35
Well, aren’t you just a little angel. Straight to interview heaven for you. You are an image of perfection for interviewers and the target of envy for everyone else. You go into an interview armed with valuable information and convincing answers. Once in there you apply your communication skills and general persuasiveness to great effect. Keep that halo polished À though don’t necessarily get it out in front of your friends because nobody likes a clever clogs.

You scored 40-65
You are in interview purgatory. Neither the best nor the worst, you are somewhere in between. You get the answer right, but often only half right. In a tight labour market that is not good enough. Consider improving your self-confidence. Take a fresh look at your potential. Do a skills audit so you know where your real strengths lie. And think harder about how all this relates to the type of job you’re going for. You need to master the art of being your own best sales person.

You scored 70-130
No surprises where you’d be heading for. Yep, that’s right, straight into the fires of interview hell. You are every prospective employer’s nightmare. Difficult, egotistical and sometimes just downright socially inept, you are considered, at best, a time waster. If you’re happy to carry on as you are for a bit longer then don’t go changing. If, however, you are serious about getting a job, then you need to get to grips with the basics of selling yourself, and what is left of your soul, in an interview.

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