WORKSHOP: Personal Trainer

STEPHEN BUBB, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO). Send your questions to:

I have an interview coming up. Any tips for how to wow them and avoid getting the jitters?

Job interviews are hazardous affairs. They can be very stressful but they don't have to be so painful.

The purpose of any job interview is twofold.

The first is to satisfy the organisation that you have the right experience and fit the specification or competencies for the post. The second is to ensure that you actually want to become an employee of that particular organisation.

Going for a new job is a two-way process and you should never feel that the organisation that you are applying to is doing you a favour. You don't need to feel grateful to them - if you are good, they should be pleased to have you for the post.

We are getting more professional about interviews in the sector with a number of different techniques being used to aid the process. Although not as common as in the private or public sector, organisations are beginning to introduce other techniques to aid the interview process such as psycho-metric testing.

Other methods might be in-tray exercises, role-play, simulations or presentations.

It may sometimes be difficult not to feel like you are back at school when presented with such exercises but there is nothing to be wary of.

These techniques are simply another way in which interviews panels can match your suitability with the job.

One hazard is the job interviewer who may think it is clever to throw the interviewee off balance.

One favourite at the moment is to ask candidates what sort of animal they would like to be. The interviewer has probably read some cheap airport purchased management textbook on interviewing and thinks they are being smart.

The weaknesses of most candidates lie in poor preparation. Too often a candidate relies on learning responses off by heart rather than talking about the relevance of their specific skills in relation to the job being offered.

You should think carefully about the special qualities of the job being applied for and why you have the skills and experience to meet them.

Your starting point must be to study the job description, any competencies or job specifications and to research the organisation itself.

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