However good an applicant for a job looks on paper, however well their skills fit the role, there are likely to be several others who look just as good. The importance of the interview is that it is the candidate's main opportunity to differentiate themselves from the rest of the world in the eyes of their prospective employer.
It is also a chance for them to showcase some of those skills for which you have no certificate – communication, presentation and other "soft" skills. Equally, a bad interview technique can scupper the most highly qualified candidate.
Interviews vary in format and content, depending on the type of company and type of role. However, there are some transferable dos and don'ts that will help ensure candidates present themselves in the best possible light.
* Self-awareness: No-one is perfect – and interviewers know that. "You should be quite honest about your strengths and areas for development," says Liz Wrenn, who manages the Finance Leader Development Programme for BAE Systems. "Everyone has areas to work on and it is good if you are aware of and addressing them."
* Be prepared to give examples: "Look at the role and think about what key skills it requires – problem-solving, for example – and think of examples of when you have used those skills," says Wrenn. "You should use very specific examples – we really want to know what you have done, rather than a theoretical answer or what the team as a whole did. Keep it in the first person."
* Answer the question: "A lot of people don't listen and let their tongues run away with them," says Richard Wall, chief operating officer of Irish aviation recruitment firm Sigmar Aviation. "Take a moment before answering. Count to three in your mind and think over exactly what they are asking." There is also no need to get over-elaborate in your answers – it is better to stop talking once you have finished your reply than carrying on and risking irrelevancy and rambling.
* Do your research: Visiting the company's website and reading up on it is essential. "You don't need a detailed knowledge, but you should be able to specify why you want to work for us," says Wrenn.
* Don't: Criticise former or present employers.
* Don't: Mention salary or benefits early on. It may even be safer not to bring them up at all.
* Pay attention: "It's important to take note of who is interviewing you, their names and positions," says Wall.
One of the most important things is to remain positive and confident. "At the point of walking in the door, the job is yours," says Wall. "The things you do from there can only take the job away from you."
Source: Flight International