guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 July 2011 10.00 BST
You might find it useful to think of your interview as a performance. As with any performance, practice makes perfect. It might not always be practical to learn your answers like an actor learns lines, but you should certainly have considered the rough outlines of how you will answer any given type of question. You need therefore to write down the questions you expect to be asked and then an effective answer for each.
You then need to focus on how you will look and sound on the day. To judge this successfully, you should, at the very least, interview yourself in the mirror a number of times, using the written materials you have prepared. Be honest about how professional, credible and friendly you look and sound. Edit and rewrite your answers until they meet the standards you will require on the day. Practice dealing with difficult moments such as when you forget what you are saying. Think about the structure of your answer - it is normally helpful to have a clear beginning, middle and end, with the end summarising what has just gone before. Think carefully about your posture and use of gestures. The pitch, tone, clarity and volume of your voice is also important. Interview nerves can affect all of these areas, so just being aware of them can help you control them and therefore be more effective on the day.
It will really help if you can find a trusted friend to ask you the questions - it might feel a bit strange at first, but the experience of speaking your words publicly should give you more confidence. Even better, ask your university careers service if they offer mock interviews. At these you will normally get very useful feedback from a professional adviser and sometimes the chance to watch yourself on video as well as the chance to deal with questions you hadn't previously thought of in a safe environment.
By Steve McLellan, a careers adviser at Edinburgh Napier University
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