Being offered an interview often means you are part way there, but the toughest test is still to come. The key to success at interview is preparation, preparation, preparation!

Do your research, surf the company’s website, news articles about them and internal literature such as the annual report or company newsletter to gather information and get a feel for their style.

First impressions count. The moment you enter the interview room you are being assessed. The moment is crucial so smile sincerely, give a solid handshake, be confident and try to stay relaxed (breathe and have a drink of water before you go in).

If you are prone to clammy palms when nerves kick in, spend a couple of minutes prior to the interview to wash and dry your hands. Perhaps even carry a tissue in your pocket – just remember to leave it in your pocket when you go to shake their hand!

I have convened and participated in dozens ofinterviews and the thing I look for most in applicants is a positive, can-do attitude. I don’t mean an unrealistic Pollyanna attitude or even those who have a cocky invincibility. What I look for is someone with a healthy, positive outlook to life and their career, who seems open to possibilities and is excited about what they are doing.

In addition, a knack for storytelling is a real skill which comes across at an interview. Storytelling is a great skill for professional communicators to foster and develop and one place it can be an advantage is at an interview. Of course I don’t mean telling fanciful stories that take 30 minutes to finish. Rather, being able to clearly and articulately provide examples of experiences and work to illustrate a point or demonstrate a skill. Interview panels aren’t looking for text book answers, they want to hear about your experience in that area as well as your communication and work style.

Another point to remember is to use ‘I’ not ‘we’ language. If you are talking about a large scale project that you worked on with a team of people, be sure to keep coming back to the role you played and what you did individually to add value to the project outcomes.

If you are using past projects to illustrate your skills and strengths, take along evidence in the form of end products or visuals, finished documents or photos. Being able to speak about what you’ve done is important, but providing visual proof will really bring it to life and add impact. As an added bonus, having a prop to divert the interviewers eyes can often give you the breathing space you need to keep your nerves in check and refer back to your notes to ensure you’ve covered off all the key points. You can also leave some of these props behind with the panel to keep you in the forefront of their mind after they have seen another two or three candidates.

Remember, even if you don’t get the job your plan should be to impress the recruiter or panel members regardless of the outcome. I have been on a panel before where a person wasn’t the chosen applicant, but gained employment down the track because of the professionalism and knowledge they demonstrated at interview. If the successful applicant declines the job, you may also be next line.

Plan what you will wear to the interview. There is no golden rule other than having clean, ironed clothes and clean, scuff free shoes. The style and formality of your interview outfit will really depend not only on the occupation but also the agency, media outlet or company you are applying to. If it is a creative agency, the style of dress can vary hugely, from designer suits to pyjama pants. On the other hand a job at a government agency may be a black business suit affair. Whatever the general consensus of the place make sure you dress to reflect your own style and personal brand. You want the interviewer and panel to get a feel for your brand to determine whether you will fit in. Ultimately in the long term if you are trying too hard to be something you’re not then you will be a bad fit for the company and both you and the employer will suffer.

This is an edited excerpt from Heidi Alexandra Pollard’s book Boost Your Career on sale now for only $7.50 (plus P&H) for a hard copy or ONLY $2.50 for an e-book version. To purchase a copy visit discounts will be applied at the checkout.

Author's Bio: 

Coach, author, speaker, teacher and entrepreneur, Heidi Alexandra Pollard, The Communicators’ Coach publishes Value Ad, a free monthly ezine for smart, savvy professionals who want more prosperity, passion and purpose in life. If you’re ready to jump start your success, make more money and have more fun doing it then get your FREE tips now at