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Your practical guide

Preparing for the interview

Try to gather as much information as you can about your potential employer so as to avoid appearing totally ignorant and unprepared in front of your interviewer.

  • Inform yourself and gather material.

    Numerous sources of information will help you to get a basic idea of the sector and market of the company that has offered you an interview.

    In fact, every sector has its own publications, which detail its movements, its companies, their results and their positioning in their market.

    • about the sector in which the company you are going to visit operates and about the company you are going to visit.

 

  • These publications contain reports, news, interviews and articles, which you can use to inform yourself accurately. You can refer to them during your interview.

    Most major business sectors are also organised into federations and/or associations, which are likely to have libraries or information services that will give you access to more detailed information you may wish to look for.

    You will find the names and addresses of most of these professional federations and/or associations under the heading 7610. Most of these professional federations and/or associations also now have an Internet site that you can go to and consult.

    The company you are going to meet may also have a website, which it is clearly useful to visit as well.

    If the company has a website, you will find it by typing the name of the company into a Belgian search engine.

    Be careful, information that comes from a company itself is naturally always very positive and more often than not a form of « publicity ». Nevertheless, this information will give you a good idea of the size of the company, its organisation and its activity: what products and/or services it offers, its commercial objectives, etc...

    Try to get as precise and complete an idea as possible of the job you will be offered. Don’t hesitate to ask for more detailed information by telephone or by e-mail.

    Also, find out what would be a realistic level of pay for this position taking into account your qualifications, your professional experience, your personal capabilities and your age, so as not to be taken by surprise if you are asked this question during the interview.

    Don’t forget that you can also negotiate certain additional benefits such as car, insurance, luncheon vouchers, etc…

    • about the position you may be offered

 

  • It is important to know if the head of human resources/personnel manager will conduct the interview or if you will also meet the person under whom you will be asked to work.

    In fact the questions posed by the head of human resources/personnel manager will be broader in scope and deal mostly with your profile in general, while those asked by a person from the staff will be more specific and deal more with your professional experience and your specific capabilities.

    Try to find out the name of the person or names of the people you are going to meet and make sure you know how to pronounce them correctly. To do this you can simply telephone the company’s head office and ask reception these questions.

    It is also useful to know if you will have to take any tests so that you can possibly prepare yourself for them.

    Compile a little file for yourself containing all the information you have been able to gather, take it with you and don’t hesitate to consult it during the interview.

    • about the way the interview will be conducted
  • Put together all the documents that you will find necessary or useful.
    • The letter of invitation that was sent to you.
    • All your identity documents.
    • Your driving licence.
    • One or several passport photos.
    • A character reference if required.
    • Copies of your main qualifications, certificates or references from previous employers.
    • Possibly a copy of your dissertation.
    • All other documents relating to your previous experience.

 

  • A few days before the interview and also the night before, imagine the conversation that you are going to have with your potential employer.

    Imagine different scenarios of questions/answers and try to formulate correctly the answers to questions you are likely to be asked in order not to be caught off guard.

    Go over in your mind - as objectively as possible – your personality and draw out from it the most distinctive aspects, your education, your previous jobs, and your experience.

    Evaluate your strong points and your weak points. Re-read your Curriculum Vitae as well as your covering letter and go deeper into each point.

    Ask yourself about your professional goals and your ambitions. Focus on your values, your way of life, your hobbies.

    Here is a list (not exhaustive) of questions you can expect to be asked by your potential future employer:

    • Prepare to be questioned and practice your part
      • Why are you interested in the vacant position?
      • Why do you want to work for our company and what aspect of it interests you?
      • What are your professional goals? How do you see your future career?
      • What level of salary are you looking for?
      • How much was your last salary?
      • Tell us about your previous employers?
      • What did you learn from them?
      • Why did you leave that (those) job(s)?
      • What are your strong points and your weak points?
      • Why do you think you would be suitable for the position we are offering?
      • What can you tell us to convince us to take you on?

 

  • Never forget that a job interview is above all an interview/a conversation and that an interview/a conversation requires two participants.

    So never lose sight of the fact that you have an active role to play during that job interview.

    You should not allow yourself to be subjected to the interview; you should participate dynamically and personally and show your genuine interest.

    So don’t be afraid of offending by asking questions that you think are relevant. It is completely normal that you should find out about your future employer and the interplay of questions and answers should not/must not be in one direction only.

    Furthermore, by asking the relevant questions, you can form an impression of the real nature of the company you are meeting.

    Remain very attentive nonetheless and prepare your questions well because your interviewer will take account of what you ask them and will also judge you on these questions.

    They will assess your real commitment to your application, they will judge your motivation and evaluate whether you have the necessary skills required for the position in question.

    • Prepare a list of questions that you hope to ask during your interview.

 

  • Here are some questions that are always worth asking:

      • Have you a detailed job description for the position offered?
      • Is any training or tuition necessary and/or required?
      • Could the nature of the job change greatly in the future? In what way?
      • What is the precise position within the company structure of the position offered?
      • Who would I have to report to in my work and in turn whom would I have to supervise?
      • Why is the position vacant?
      • Does the company have a rapid turnover of personnel?
      • What is the company’s philosophy /policy towards its personnel?
      • What are the best-selling products/services that the company offers?
      • What position does the company occupy within its market/sector of business?
      • Who are its direct competitors?
      • What are the company’s medium or long-term goals?
      • What are the company’s immediate aims?
      • Have the company or the department been subject to fundamental structural or strategic changes in the last few years?
      • What comes next in the hiring procedure? Who is involved in the decision-making process? Will there be other tests or interviews?
      • What are the opportunities for promotion within the company?
      • Can I meet the people I would be working with?
      • In what ways might the job change?
      • How long would I have to wait to find out if I am hired or not?

 

  • Don’t hesitate either to ask your interviewer about the proposed salary as well as about possible additional benefits.

    To prevent this happening, check carefully the location of the company as well as the time and place of the interview.

    Plan your journey carefully in advance – whether by car or by public transport.

    Estimate how much time you will need for the journey and add a margin of safety. If you are going by car, take account of the time you will need to park. Ideally, it would be worth checking whether it is possible to park on the company’s premises.

    If you make your potential future employer wait even before the first interview, they will have the right to think that you are a careless person or that this interview is not very important to you.

    To make the excuse of traffic jams or trouble in finding the right address or somewhere to park will not be looked on favourably: someone well-prepared is likely to have taken these eventualities into account.

    In the same way, you are expected to devote as much time as is necessary to your job interview, and not to appear impatient. Therefore you will avoid making other appointments too close to this one, which would make you seem to be a disorganised person in the eyes of your two interviewers.

    Always behave as if this job interview is actually the most important thing that you have to do during the whole of the day, and certainly during the whole of the time that you spend in the company of your potential future employer.

      • Is it also possible to earn commission?
      • Are there possibilities for further training within the company?
      • Does the company offer additional benefits, and if so, what are they?

    • Make sure you are not late: go over your journey and calculate accurately how long it will take you to arrive on time without rushing.

 

  • Even if everyone agrees that the popular adage “one should not judge by appearances” is right, what you wear is still seen as a reflection of the candidate’s personality.

    So don’t play the rebel for no reason: avoid leisurewear or casual clothes even if you know that they are permitted within the company.

    Select a classic and well looked-after suit, clean and suitable shoes, a clean, well-ironed shirt or blouse and a tie for the men.

    The fact that you pay attention to the way you are dressed will be seen as a point in your favour, whatever is worn within the company. It also shows that the interview is important to you and that you are prepared to make the necessary effort in order to land the job for which you have been invited to interview.

    However, avoid at all costs looking as if you are wearing your “Sunday best”.

    It is important that you feel comfortable in what you have chosen to wear. Wearing clothes you are comfortable in will make you feel at ease physically, which is more effective than the stiff elegance of an outfit in which you feel uncomfortable and “dressed up”.

    Think about it in advance and prepare your clothes so as not to be caught out on the day in question.

    But be careful, paying attention to your clothes is not sufficient. You must also pay particular attention to your hygiene: clean hands, nails trimmed and buffed, fresh breath, hair freshly shampooed and neatly combed, etc.

    • To make sure you give the best impression you can, take care of how you present yourself and your appearance.

 

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