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January 04, 2016

The Best Job Interview Tips of 2016

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The Best Job Interview Tips of 2016

Charlotte Seager, Journalist for Guardian Careers

Use breathing techniques to boost confidence
At the heart of job interview confidence is feeling relaxed, so breathing and mindfulness exercises are helpful, says chartered psychologist Dr Gary Wood in a blog on how to boost confidence at a job interview.

"Staying present by focusing on your breathing just before an interview should help calm nerves," adds mindfulness teacher Gelong Thubten. "When we are anxious, our blood flows away from our brain as we are in fight or flight mode, and our cognitive functions can suffer."

So slow, deep breathing will bring the oxygen back to your brain and help you to think clearly.

Don't talk too much ... or too little

"Your answers should be like concise mini-essays with a clear beginning, middle and end," says Steve Agace, director of sales at the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, in a blog on avoiding the most common interview mistakes. If your answer is too short it looks like you have little to say, too lengthy and you've probably babbled and missed the point. "Be composed, think before you answer and employ structure."

Don't ask your interviewer anything obvious

"When asked if you have any questions, steer clear of anything you should already know the answer to," says Victoria McLean, CV writer and interview coach in a blog on ways to stand out in a job interview. Don't forget that even though this is the end of the interview, the question is still an opportunity to sell yourself.

"I like questions that demonstrate intelligence or strategic thinking. For example: how is the current (insert relevant issue) impacting the strategy of your business? Any general question you ask can be improved by tailoring it to the business you're applying to," adds McLean.

Keep your answers under two minutes
Don't start rambling, says Katherine Burik, founder of the Interview Doctor in a blog on how to answer common interview questions.

She says: "When answering questions it can be good to pick something you are particularly proud of to demonstrate your expertise in the job for which you are interviewing. But just give an overview - they will ask if they want more details.

"Practice out loud until the words flow off your tongue and you'll make a great presentation."

Remember private conversations are not always private

"Not all conversations outside the interview room are private and savvy employers will check the social media profiles of prospective staff when considering applicants," says Emily Johnson, marketing executive at Give A Grad A Go, in a blog on what job hunters can learn from politicians.

As part of this, it's a good idea to be polite to everyone you meet within a five mile radius of the interview. Likewise, think about the impression your social media profiles provide and mute anything that may appear unappealing to a future boss.

Don't over-prepare, and be yourself

"It's definitely a good idea to prepare answers to potential questions but make sure you don't sound like you are reading from a prepared script," says Lizzie Mortimer, careers consultant for the University of Edinburgh in a blog on ways to succeed in a video interview. "Have a few bullet points to hand so you remember the points you want to make, but still sound natural and enthusiastic."

It's important not to sound scripted when replying, as this can make your answers sound stilted and lack personality. "I once ran a phone interview where the candidate seemed to have scripted answers to every possible question. Each time I asked a question, I heard this intense rustling noise as he searched for his answer," says McLean. "Needless to say, he didn't get the job."

Charlotte Seager is a journalist who works on Guardian Careers. She also writes for the Guardian books site. To learn more about Charlotte, follow her on Twitter @CharlotteSeager

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