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Tips on how to prepare for an interview.

When you get that very important call, especially if you have been jobless or are straight from campus/college, your heart will skip a beat. Getting an invite to an interview itself does not guarantee a job but at least it is one step in the office. When you get an invite to attend an interview, this is the point sat which you choose whether to get the job or not and even after the interview process depending on the type of interview (watch out for an article on types of interviews and how to tackle them), trust me you will know whether you nailed it or no.

Some time back after campus, I got a call for an interview at CfC offices at Mamlaka Road and trust me I went there overdressed with high expectations only to find out that I was over qualified for the job so whether I went there in sandals I will have nailed it. Your preparation for an interview is very important because it determines your behaviour during the interview period. A good example occurred when I was in my fourth year sometimes back and we went for an aptitude test for KPMG. This was basically a written test and trust me very many people came to the interview site dressed in black suits and ties. This is an example of overdressing for an interview, in cases like the aptitude test especially written, please dress smart casual (dress down) but don’t dress down too much especially for the ladies. (We will tackle the dress code next time)

We will now take you through the steps preparation for an interview and in this case we are assuming you are now going for oral interview with either a manager or a director in the organisation that is your prospective employer. Just as a point to note most employers have slowly shifted away from a one man interview and have transformed to a stage-panel interview. This is a topic for another day all together. When going for an interview:
1.       Do enough research about the prospective employer: This will help you to be comfortable during the interview and to answer questions based on the knowledge you have obtained. Do good research and understand the employer so that you can look knowledgeable during the interview. Site some examples that you may have come across during your research and even quote a few practices of the prospective employer that you know. At this time I have to warn you, don’t talk about how much they pay or their financial statements in an example of a private company. Concentrate on the industry they operate in, practices around the industry and what the competitors are doing.
2.       Be composed if you are going for an aptitude test: This is where most people get it wrong. I want at this point to share a live example of an international audit firm – PricewaterhouseCoopers. At one of their aptitude test, they offered a blank paper and told students to write about anything. Tell me what will you write about? The most obvious topic you will go for is ‘auditing’ thinking that you will please the marker because they are in audit........ Wrong. When going somewhere and you are given an Intelligent Quotient test, don’t come prepared because most aptitude tests will test your acute and instantaneous reasoning. Think! Think! Think! And think fast. Your dressing should be simple and to the point. I recommend smart casual.
3.       Technology and preparedness: In an interview at AIG now called Chartis, a computer exam is done that is time constrained and tests how fast you can deal with technology. This is to test your basic IT skills that I am sure you have predominantly mentioned in your CV. Employers will rather get a result from a practical sample than a CV. From a very popular program produced by BBC called ‘Hustle’ season 6 episode 5, a young CEO of a company called DREAMFIXER says to a job applicant that ‘’CVs are like masks. They hide what is inside’’ Please be prepared to do anything, answer any question and attempt any exam. Simply put be alert.
4.       Dressing and cloth colours: The type of clothes you wear will give the panel the first impression about you. If you are walking into a room and you want people to take notice of you, then wear very bright colours but in an interview it is not about fashion or noticing, it is about appearing modest and temperate. You need to be careful with colours. As I wrote on my earlier article, avoid very bright colours and if you must wear them combine with dark colours. For men, a black or grey suit is recommended with a white shirt and a red tie. This will make you appear powerful but you can combine also a black or grey suit with various colours like blue and some grey and make sure the tie matches with the shirt and not the suit. Please avoid stripped shirts and suits. For ladies, your suits are always classy and you can use black, grey, navy blue and dark brown while combining it with a good wide collar top. There is also a fancy tie that does not tighten on the neck but loosened around your chest, please add it if you can but be careful not to expose too much of your chest.
5.        Copies of your CV and other certificates: Make enough copies of the CV because if you sent one and the panel has three people you don’t want them to share it. Please offer to hand them over to them and with respect. Certificates should be well arranged from the latest one to the oldest or from the one that is most relevant to this job to the least. Memorise the order in which your certificates are arranged so that if they ask you of a specific event in your CV you can access the certificate as evidence faster. Get a good folder in which you have arranged these items, not bulky.
6.       Know the venue and the company offices: It does not cost to even make a small tour around the offices in which the interview will be carried out. This does not mean you go into the offices but know where they are located and estimate the time it will take you from where you are to the venue. Ensure you know the vehicle that is taken to that point or if you use a cab, ensure you have made prior arrangement. This will go a long way in assisting you to arrive on time and avoid the sweating and panting at the interview room.
7.       Read interview material: It is allowed to go through interview materials and hike your confidence. Go through any articles that you can get, ask us any questions that we can help, enquire from friends on what to anticipate and even do a role play with your friends. The only thing that can help you is confidence and the way you appear composed and be sure the more you have read the better for you because knowledge gives you attitude.
8.       Personal hygiene and grooming: During the day of an interview, please be very clean. Assuming you were a panellist and an interviewee comes into the room and when he starts to talk you can feel a fowl small from the mouth maybe because he forgot to wash his mouth in the morning. Be very clean and fresh. Avoid very strong deodorants because they can put an interviewer off but if you can get hold of a roll-on then use a small portion to avoid your armpits from smelling because there is a high likelihood that you may perspirate or sweat while in the room. Make your hair short and trim your nails. As much as appearance is not reality, it shows a percentage of who you are.
9.       Foods to avoid: In the interview room, you will not want to have a stomach upset and a growling stomach because they may embarrass you. You will want food that retains your health and voice. Avoid fatty foods and a lot of proteins. Avocadoes are not good neither are oxidised juices, take lemon water and very small portions of carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables. By all means take fresh foods and if you are sure you can hold on for a while take a mixture of fruits like a fresh pudding and water. If you are asked what you can drink by the panel, don’t go for hot things that can make you uncomfortable to sip or drink go for water. When taking a drink during an interview, please time when the interviewer is starting to ask a question is when you start your sip. Avoid drinking anything while answering a question.  
10.   Postures and carrying habits: The panel will very carefully monitor your habits. When you walk into the interview room, please wait to be invited to sit. The posture you sit will determine your personality. Avoid arms akimbo and putting legs together, this show protectiveness. Please have your arms straight and both your legs on the ground. If you are near the table, your hands should be an inverted wide letter V with an upright face and eyes straight into the eyes of the interviewer.

In brief we have tried to give you the information that you need in order to have a successful interview. This is not all and we promise you further career advice. If you are reading this, look at your left and click on share this on face book  it will take you directly to your face book page where you can share such article directly with your friend without the visiting this site. We wish you all the best in your job search and if you have any question, send it to and be sure we will respond. This is a FREE service and we do not charge for any of our services.
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