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Preparing for an Interview

In many ways, preparing for an interview is the most important part of the process. The time you spend preparing for an interview will repay you many times over when you actually get in the room and have to start answering questions.

Preparing for an interview starts with reviewing the job description, person specification, and any other information that you have about the job. While you will already have addressed these issues when applying for a job, you need to repeat the process, matching your skills and experience up with what you think the employer is looking for.

For each of the items listed, think of the ways in which you meet their requirements. Then, anticipate what questions you think they might ask you. Write the questions down, and find someone you trust who will conduct a mock interview with you, asking you the questions. Answer each question - several times if need be - until you are comfortable that you can do yourself justice on that issue. Only then should you move on.

In addition, you should practice answering the more generic types of questions that interviewers like to ask - things like, "what are your strengths", "what are your weaknesses," "why do you want to work for us," "what do you think you can contribute," and so on. If you're not sure about these, do some research.

Other areas to research include the company, the industry, and if you know who you will be meeting, the people themselves. The more you know about those you will be meeting, the background of the company, and the state of the industry, the more informed you will look.

On a more mundane level, you also need to be clear what the company's dress code is, and in particular what is expected for an interview. If you aren't sure, you can ask the HR department. If in doubt, dress conservatively.

It will also pay to check on your travel arrangements for the day. Find out the bus or train times or the traffic conditions, check on predicted delays, and make sure you not only have plenty of time, but also know an alternative route of you do encounter problems.

Doing this sort of work before the interview will not only prepare you, but also make you more relaxed and comfortable when the time actually comes.