6. Conducting yourself in the interview

Most interviews last about an hour, and for that hour, you are the main focus of attention. Work hard to maintain your own attention. Try not to anticipate questions. Jot down things you’re told if you need to. Focus on the things you came to say about yourself.

Sit well back in the chair, and relax. Don’t let your knees splay. Don’t fold your arms or put elbows on the table. Sit leaning slightly forward and alert.

Listen to the introduction and the roles of the people in the room, if more than one. They should tell you the running order of the interview.

Think about the agendas of each of the people in the room in choosing a candidate. None of them will be there to trip you up; their job is to choose the best candidate, and for each of them this means developing a rapport as well as the candidate meeting the criteria.

Remember your own agenda, which is simply to get your 3 or 4 points across so that the interviewer(s) ‘get’ them and don’t forget them.

Remember that the interviewers will have used your application form/CV to help them frame their questions, so be prepared to repeat what you wrote. It doesn’t mean they didn’t read it – it means they want to explore it.

It is OK to repeat back the question to buy time.

It is OK to ask for the question to be repeated.

It is OK for you to refer to something you put in your application

It is OK to use a little humour to help oil the wheels a little by building rapport.

Don’t maintain unnerving levels of eye contact, but do offer a friendly, engaged level of eye contact.

Imagine a post it note is stuck on the wall behind the interviewer on which is written the words: slow down.

Keep your answers to one or two sentences. If they want more, they’ll ask, and this discipline will help you stay organised and not ramble.

If you have to make a presentation, but you’ve been told it will only be short, consider not using a PC but hand outs instead. Make them coloured so you can refer to the different sections by colour. Put your own copy on stiff card so you can point to it without it flopping over. Put your name, email and mobile on the bottom of the sheet.

Another advantage of using hard copy is that you can draw onto the diagram anything that comes up as you discuss your model with the interviewer, which can be a powerful of way of getting them to buy into your idea.

The interviewer will wind up the interview when it’s over, but think about how you want to close – eg thanking the interviewer, and asking when you will hear the result of the interview. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask the manager who’s interviewed them if they have a card. This will enable you to follow up after the interview.

Never, ever ask about salary. Wait until you have the job offer.

Remember to check you have everything with you before you leave.

Follow up with a phone call if you haven’t heard by close of business on the promised date, and don’t forget to ask for feedback on how the interview went.