Thorough preparation for your interview will not only ensure you have all the correct information at your fingertips, it will also give you a greater measure of control over what can sometimes seem a stressful situation. Knowing you are well-prepared will both help your confidence and, by reducing your anxiety, make you less liable to forget something important.
Arrival, and greeting your interviewer
It is, of course, essential to arrive in good time, so make a note of the address and carefully research the route and your travel plans. Your aim should be to reach your interview destination around 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. This will give you time to settle and check you have everything you need. When you meet your interviewer, smile and offer a positive greeting, perhaps saying: 'It's nice to meet you, and thanks for taking time out to see me', or something similar.
Before the interview begins, take your time to get orientated and ready to start. This means removing your coat and scarf, placing your bag within reach but out of the way, and checking you have what you need, including any notes or reference material you may require. Whilst an accompanying cup of tea or coffee might be a welcome courtesy in some contexts, take proper care to place it well out of harms way to avoid any risk of an embarrassing upset. Finally, take a calming deep breath, and signal you are ready to start.
Listen – Think – Answer
It is relatively common for nervous candidates to focus so much on their answer that they actually forget the question. Armed with that knowledge, merely paying careful attention to the interviewer's questions is bound to help your cause. Often, the trap is listening out for keywords, and then setting off on your response without really paying attention to the whole question. Although you may well impress your interviewer with the quality of your answer, you are nevertheless bound to lose some credibility for poor grasp of detail and lack of comprehension. Take enough time to make sure you understand the question, and repeat the question, or ask a clarifying question of your own, if you're not clear about what is asked. Your interviewer will be quite happy for you to take a few moments to marshal your thoughts, and a considered reply will not only be appreciated far more than a rushed response, it will also demonstrate your self-assurance.
Give your response, then stop
At times, your interviewer may give you plenty of space to develop a point and, with your adrenalin flowing freely, a lucid, comprehensive answer can easily slip into an awkward ramble. Here again, your preparation should help your command of a topic and enable you to speak with authority – just make sure you know when to stop. Beware also the canny interviewer who may engineer a slight pause just to see how you handle the slight pressure this generates. Don't feel compelled to fill a silence unless you are unambiguously invited to do so.
Asking your own questions
You are generally given the opportunity to ask some questions towards the end of the interview – a process which is infinitely easier if you have carefully researched your prospective employer's background. Intelligent enquiries will enhance your interviewer's impression of your knowledge and interest, but don't ask a whole string of questions – this won't necessarily impress.
Take your leave by thanking your interviewer by name – this shows awareness, courtesy and confidence. A shake of the hand, with eye contact, also helps to create a positive impression and brings matters to a satisfactory conclusion. You can then relax knowing you have given yourself every chance of securing a positive outcome.