1: Right place, right time

Confirm the time and venue for your interview 24 hours beforehand, and don't leave your journey to chance. Make sure you've up-to-date timetables for public transport or if you're travelling by car, leave time for parking and other hold-ups. Aim to be at least 10 minutes early and if unforeseen problems crop up contact your Consultant or interviewer ASAP.

2: Sharp suit, nice smile

Although dress down policies are becoming the norm, it's still best to stick to a smart suit. You'll be judged on your attitude as well as your appearance, so greet your interviewer with a firm handshake, make eye contact and flash them a winning smile.

3: Fact find, feel fine

Ask your consultant for a job specification and make sure you understand what the job entails. Then find out what form the interview will take - is it a one-on-one or panel interview? Do you need to bring examples of your work? Will there be a test to assess your skills? And finally, make sure you know about the company. Ask the firm for some promotional literature; find out where it stands in the marketplace and which companies are its main competitors, better still talk to someone who works there.

4: Anticipate questions, prepare answers

Interview questions normally fall into four categories: You as a person; your work history, skills and experience; the company; the job. Through these questions the interviewer is looking for an insight into your personality. Why are you leaving your current job. What do you know about their company and do you have the skills to fulfil the job specification? Put yourself in their shoes. What would you ask? Brainstorm your answers with a friend.

5: Don't be coy, sell your skills

An interviewer will often see many candidates in a day. The one he or she remembers is the one who had something interesting to say. So write down what you consider to be your skills, strengths, achievements, and the areas where there's room for improvement. If you have spent time considering what you have to offer you'll feel more comfortable presenting these strengths to your prospective employer.

6: Be prepared, they may want more information

Make sure you can expand on all of your answers. Your CV/resume may well provide them with all the info they need - but the interviewer needs to check out your communications skills. However, make sure the additions to your answers add value, don't be long winded for the sake of it.

7: Need to present? Practice what you're preaching

If you're asked to make a presentation keep the content short and simple. If you have been asked to present for 15 minutes, make sure you have not completed it in five, or that you're still talking after half an hour. Run through your talk a few times in front of the mirror - this will help you get your timing right.

8: Ask them questions, consider their answers

There comes a point in every interview when you'll be asked: 'Have you got any questions?' The worst answer you can give is no. Think hard about what aspects of the job are important to you. Are there training opportunities for example? What are the opportunities for career progression? But be careful not to bombard the interviewer with a long list - they may have a tight interview schedule to stick to.

9: Take notes, get noticed

Don't be afraid to take notes, not only does this look professional, but jotting down your interviewer's answers could come in useful as a reminder of important points if you're called to a second interview. Moreover, noting the job's benefits could help in your own decision making if you have one or more job offers.

10: Exit gracefully, then follow up

Leave the interview in a polite and assured fashion, meet the interviewer's eye, give them a firm handshake and smile. If you are interested in the job tell them. On your way home write a recap of the interview when it's fresh in your mind. Telephone your Consultant as soon as you are able � the quicker the Client receives your feedback the more favourably they will consider you.

Typical Interview Questions

Aston Recruitment have compiled a list of more typical interview questions and how you may more acceptably answer them.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

It's a mistake if you haven't thought about this question and how to answer it. Your interviewer will use your response to gauge your desired career direction, your ability to plan out how to achieve your goal and what moves you are making to reach it. It will also tell them how real your desire to reach your goal is and to what extent their organisation can accommodate your aspirations. A good answer will include the following: an acknowledgement from you that you have things to learn; that you would like the company to help you with this learning; and that although you have progression within this department in your sights you will also consider other opportunities throughout the company, should they arise.

Why do you want to work here?

This requires some forethought. It means that you go into an interview forearmed with facts and information about the company you are looking for a job with. If you've done your homework you have nothing to fear. Your reply should include the company's attributes as you see them and why these attributes will bring out the best in you.

How do you work under pressure?

This question is offering you the opportunity to sell your skills to your prospective employer. Think of an example in your current job, explain how it arose and how you dealt with it. Do not say anything negative about yourself unless you can finish off your reply with what you have learned from the experience. You can also use this question to demonstrate how you can alleviate pressured work situations arising - that your own capabilities to plan and manage your time can reduce hasty decisions and panicked deadlines arising.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

The acceptable answers to this question fall into two categories, how you feel about your career and how you feel about the company you currently work for. And your answer may include a combination of reasons from both areas. Regarding your career - do you want fresh challenges? More opportunity for growth? Would you like to develop new skills? With regard to the company, did you feel that your position was not secure? Was there nowhere else for you to go in the department? Does the company you are applying for a job with have a better reputation?

What specifically do you have to offer us?

Start your answer with a recap of the job description of the post you are applying for, then meet it point by point with your skills. It's important that you also paint a picture of yourself as a problem solver, someone who can take direction and who is a team player, and of course someone who is not only interested in their personal career success, but the success of the company.

What is your greatest weakness?

This question is an attempt by the interviewer to tempt you into casting yourself in a negative light - don't do it. Always turn your weaknesses into positives, and keep your answer general. Try to think about allowable weaknesses for example , a lack of knowledge in a certain area is an opportunity for development. Frustration with others may signal your total commitment to a project or a perfectionist nature.

What are your greatest achievements?

Keep your answer to this question job related, think of past projects or initiatives which you have played a part in and which have brought positive results for you and the company. Do not exaggerate your role, if your greatest achievement occurred as part of a team, then say so. It not only shows your ability to work with others, but to share credit when credit is due.

How do you handle criticism?

This question is designed to find out if you are manageable as an employee. In your answer you must present yourself as someone who will accept direction, but who also has a decent quotient of self-respect. Everyone deserves a reason and explanation for criticism. If your manager does this in a way which respects your situation then you should say that this is acceptable to you and that you will grow from it. If the correction is brusque, you should also say that you can accept this too - your boss may have something on his/her mind, you must show yourself as someone who can recognise the bigger picture.

Are you willing to travel/relocate?

In this question you may find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place. If you say no - you might as well end the interview there and then. If you say yes, who is to say you won't end up in Alaska ? Find out what they are really asking - is it business travel or is the company relocating? If relocation is the option there are two ways to play this - be honest, or veer towards yes whatever, after all your goal at interview is to get a job offer, without such an offer you have no decision to make, and no chips to bargain with.

What kind of people do you like working with?

Easy, people like you! In this question you can again flag up your attributes as attributes you expect in others. Key words are pride, dedication, self-respect and honesty. Please contact us directly should you want more detailed or specific help re your interview technique. Info@astonrecruitment.com / 0845 838 0470.