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To help you ace your next job interview for a substance misuse worker post, we've put together a list of our top six dos and don'ts.

1. Stay cool, calm and collected


Job interviews can be stressful. But it's important to keep your nerves under control, particularly when you're up for a job as a drug and alcohol worker. Your work will inevitably involve dealing with challenging situations and possible confrontation, so you need to show that you can keep calm and carry on.

2. Follow your STAR


Competency is obviously going to be a key issue. So, there's a good chance you'll be asked at least one 'behavioural' or 'situational' question to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and experience. Using the STAR technique to frame your answer is a good strategy: describe the Situation, outline your Task, define the Activity, show the Result.

3. Mind your body language


Experts says that 55% of communication is non-verbal. So, you need to think about what impression your interviewer is getting from your body language as well as what you're saying. Think about your posture (don't slouch or look too relaxed); don't clench your fists or wave your hands around; don't fidget, fiddle with your hair or keep touching your face. Most importantly, remember to smile!

4. Be on time


Being late for an interview is a no-no for any job candidate. But it will reflect particularly badly on you as a substance abuse worker. You need to show that you can give your clients complete confidence in you and build positive relationships with them. If you seem to have an issue with punctuality, it won't inspire confidence in your prospective employer.

5. Turn a negative into a positive


It's a common interview question: 'What's your key weakness?' The interviewer doesn't want to know if you're a shopaholic or can't cook. The aim is to test your analytical skills and self-awareness in relation to your job as a substance misuse worker. To answer confidently, focus on a weakness that could also be perceived as a strength, then show how you have addressed the issue. For example, you could say that, because you're committed to your job, you have a tendency to take things to heart. You could then explain that you have learned to deal with this, keeping a sense of perspective and not letting the challenges you face at work impact on your own life or wellbeing.

6. Ask as well as answer


Don't wait for the final 'Do you have anything to ask us?' question to ask about the job. Be ready to ask questions when appropriate throughout the interview. For example, you could ask about other members of the team you will be working with (mental health nurses, psychologists, counsellors etc), the working culture, what opportunities there are for training and personal development, and how your performance will be measured.

Finally, it's important to be as prepared as possible for your interview and to rehearse your responses to typical questions. We've produced a handy interview guide and preparation sheet for candidates applying for criminal justice jobs, both of which are downloadable. You'll find them here.

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