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Don’t let yourself be put under the microscope to be prodded, probed and interrogated like some laboratory sample

Posted on about 3 years ago by Gerry Kennedy

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Interviews needn't be an ordeal. Gerry Kennedy of The RFT Group advises on getting your dream job, and how to negotiate the salary to match in the booming pharmaceutical or medical devices sectors.

When you are seating in the hot sea, remember that you are not the only one on trial. A job interview is a two way process - a chance for you to find out whether you and the job are right for each other. But first you have to convince them that you're the one they want. And for this, preparation is paramount.

You'll need to know yourself well. Create your own personal sales pitch by listing your attributes suitable to the job: work experience, major achievements, strengths and weaknesses, qualifications and where you want your career to go. And do your homework about the job and organisation. Get a full job description, visit the website and read the relevant trade press, then use the information to prepare relevant questions.

Find out the format of the interview too. Is it one-to-one, panel or group? Will you be expected to do a presentation? If so, is the company providing the equipment for you to use? Aim to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early and have the telephone number with you in case you are held up.

First impressions count. Research shows that people form strong impressions within the first few minutes of meeting someone, based on your body language and image (70 per cent), tone of voice (20 per cent) or what you say (10 per cent). So be smart, but wear something you feel comfortable in. Fidgeting, slouching or sitting defensively with your arms crossed won't look good, so try and relax. This is easier said than done, but if you smile, speak clearly, make regular eye contact and listen intently you will come across natural and confident.

But watch out. A well-trained interviewer will throw challenging questions at you to see how you react. You could find you are trying to justify yourself rather than having the chance to sell your attributes. However, good preparation will help you to answer any question confidently.

We can all recall the interviews we went to that were more like one-way interrogations ! Effective interviewers will create the opportunity for a two-way dialogue to take place; they will also place value in the type and nature of questions which candidates themselves ask. Before you attend an interview, establish your own ‘ wish list ‘……..….by what criteria will you evaluate the company and the job they hope to fill ?   Besides the big salary increase you hope to be offered, what else is important to you ? …what is the ethos of the organisation ? what are the company’s future plans and strategies ? what sort of management style do they have ? am you looking for greater or less responsibility ? greater challenge ? …. make sure you know what issues are important to you and during the interview take the opportunity to question the interviewer about them. If you don’t know what issues are important, and fail to find out if this is the right fit with your requirements you risk accepting the wrong job with the wrong boss in the wrong company.    

Then comes the job offer (you hope). But the process isn't complete until you have settled on the right salary, and negotiating this can sometimes be tougher than the interview. Again - be prepared. Assess your market value based on job adverts, salary surveys and advice from colleagues who have a similar role. During the interview it is usual to ask what salary you would expect. Although it is difficult, never be the first to mention a figure. Try responding by talking of "a package in the region of…" to avoid selling yourself short.

If the interview mentions a figure first and it is not acceptable, ask if there's any room for negotiation. Remember to be diplomatic and give the impression that you are working towards a mutually beneficial solution. If they appear unlikely to budge on money you could negotiate for additional benefits instead or request a three-month review.

Choosing the right job is an important and time-consuming process. If necessary, go away and think about it. If it's not right don't be afraid to turn down the offer and wait for something better. Life's too short to waste on the wrong job, and besides, you'll have more negotiating experience at the next interview.

Gerry Kennedy, Managing Director, The RFT Group.

The RFT Group : Leaders in recruitment for the bio-pharmaceutical, and medical devices sector