Interview culture is as varied as the number of companies and organisations on the market. Find out as much as possible about the process in advance. Do you need to take documents, prepare a presentation or undertake psychometric, practical or other tests as part of the interview? How long will the process take and who are you likely to meet?
For non-specialist jobs, there is usually just one interview. If the vacancy is for a specialised or more senior position, there may be several rounds and a panel of interviewers.
Bear in mind that well-known firms and brand names vary from country to country. Research equivalents to any well-known names on your CV in order to help the interviewer understand your background. Equally for tools, software and protocols: try to find out the correct terms, or their equivalents, in the language of the country where you are applying to work.
The same goes for your educational and training background. Universities, training institutions and qualifications can vary widely. Be ready to give a brief description of the main subject areas you covered to help show the employer how you meet their requirements.
There is currently no universal recognition of educational qualifications across Europe, meaning that an employer in one country may be hesitant to hire a worker from another country if they do not understand their level of qualification. One solution is to use the Europass skills passport, which can help you to give a comprehensive picture of your skills and qualifications by creating a folder for all your documents (http://europass.cedefop.europa.eu/en/documents/european-skills-passport).
Starting in 2013, the EURES job mobility portal will also introduce sectoral skills passports to help jobseekers describe their skills in a way that can be easily understood by employers all over Europe.
You can also find useful information on the Your Europe portal: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens
If travelling a distance to an interview, will your travel costs be covered? Note the correct address for the interview venue, how to get there and how long you need to allow for the journey, so as not to arrive late. Carry details and contact numbers to alert the company in case you are delayed.
Prepare what you are going to wear in advance and consider the impact of your personal presentation, attitude, body language and the way you express yourself Non-verbal communication is almost as important as what you say.
Take a pen and notebook so that you can make notes during the interview.
• Check/ask in advance about the structure of the interview, whether it will involve tests and what form these will take, whether you need to prepare a presentation and whether you need to bring copies or originals of your diplomas or other documents.
• Take a copy of your CV, the application form, a notebook and pen, and a list of questions you would like to ask.
• Confirm your attendance at the interview and double-check the date, time and contact person.
Employers pay attention to accuracy, appearance, composure, confidence, gestures and level of preparation during an interview.
Switch off your mobile phone before you enter the interview. Shake hands with your interviewers if invited to do so. Wait for a seat to be offered. Try to appear self-confident and composed. Speak clearly and not too quietly. Try to avoid showing signs of nervousness. Make eye contact.
Be careful not to criticise former employers or other people. If invited to express criticism about something or someone, try to make the best of it and put things as positively as possible. Do not discuss personal or financial problems.