Make sure you know about the company you are applying for a position with. Check out their website and social media and prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Dropping in little things that you have observed about their company from swatting up will give you a head start over other candidates and impress your interviewer.
In an interview, your job is to sell yourself and your skills. Make a list of all the skills and qualities you have and cross reference them to the person specification and job description. If there are gaps dig deep and think about things you have done or qualities you hold that may be relevant. Don’t disregard extra-curricular activities or things you do in your spare time. Everything you do contributes to your uniqueness and is worth exploring. Think about what might make you different from the other candidates. Don’t forget you MUST think of examples to back up everything you say you are good at or have done. Most interviews begin with a question about why you want the job or why you think you are suitable, or both, so prepare your speech! Remember to speak clearly and keep to the point.
Practice makes perfect
Rehearse what you want to say and how you might answer certain questions in the mirror, to a friend or family member. You might feel a bit silly but it really is an excellent way to get an idea of exactly what you want to say in your interview. You could even go through the job description and person specification and make a list of questions you think they might asked based on this. Practice your answers to these.
Remember 55% of communication is body language and 38% is tone of voice. That makes 93% of your communication non-verbal! Posture, eye contact and gestures are really important in the message you are portraying:
- Make good eye contact (but not too intense!)
- Shake hands if you think it’s appropriate (firm but not vice like!)
- Slouching or sitting back too much makes you look disinterested, even if you are trying to look relaxed! Your best option is to sit up straight with your hands comfortably in your lap.
- It’s perfectly natural to be nervous in an interview situation. Think about what behaviours you display when you are nervous. Do you touch you face a lot? Talk fast? Be aware of this, take a deep breath and focus on what you need to say.
- Nod, smile and show interest in what your interviewer is saying.
Dress the Part
Dress smart. T-shirts, shorts, trainers and jeans are all a no-no unless you are sure that is what the employer is looking for (which it rarely is).
Make sure your hair is washed and neat and tidy. Think about whether you need to remove piercings and cover up tattoos. You might feel like they contribute to the image of who you are, and they do, but not when you are working for someone else, to their rules. You might find it’s ok to have tattoos and piercings on display once you have got the job, but the interview isn’t the place to find that out.
Go easy on the perfume and aftershave. You’d be amazed how many employers report that they get really irritated by strong smells. Remember you want them to be focussing on you and your brilliance, not be distracted by your scent!
Get There Early
This may seem obvious, but if you’re not on time for your interview, you could be out the door before you’ve even said ‘good morning’. Practice the route beforehand to make sure you know how long it takes and if there are any unexpected obstacles.
Being early gives you time to look over your notes, go to the loo, take a deep breath. This can all give you the psychological edge!
Arrive with the essentials only
Turn your phone off and put it away. Don’t be caught fiddling on it when your interviewer comes to call you in. You want to look focussed on the task ahead and don’t want to be fumbling around trying to turn it off as you walk to your interview. Use this time to make some appropriate small talk instead and find some common ground, this will help your interviewer remember you and help you feel more relaxed.
Get rid of your rubbish before you arrive! You don’t want your first words to be “have you got a bin?”!
Make a Good Impression from the outset
You are being judged from the moment you step through that door. Be polite and courteous to everyone you come into contact with. Employers often ask the reception staff for their feedback on the candidates, so be nice! You may also have to see that person every day if you get the job.
Don’t bad mouth you current or previous employer
This does not show you in a good light! It makes you look disloyal and unprofessional. Instead of saying “ xxx was awful to work for. There were no opportunities for me to progress there.” Say “One of the things that has drawn me to your organisation is how committed you are to developing your staff”. Remember to always try and phrase everything in the positive. It goes a long way.
Usually at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. If you don’t ask something, it can look like you are not that interested. It’s also a good opportunity to show any research that you have done, so prepare some questions before the interview. Good questions to ask are about how the role sits within the wider organisation, who you will be working with, expectations of the role. Don’t ask about salary, benefits and holiday straight away, either leave that for when they have made you an offer or for right at the end of your questions.
You can ask what the next steps are. Will they contact you? When might this happen by? And check you have given them the right contact details!
The end of the interview is also a good time to emphasise again how interested you are in the job and excited at the prospect of working for their company. Shake hands and make good eye contact and thank them for their time.
Other resources to look to help you on your road to employment with lots of information on getting ready for interviews, writing CV’s, cover letters and job applications: