Interviews can be intimidating, particularly for a job that you are very keen to be offered. It is very easy to get flustered and not come across as the real you.
1. Do your research
There is nothing that will put a potential employer off you more than a lack of preparation for the interview. Make sure you have not only thoroughly researched the company, but the job role too. You will be asked questions about them and being able to speak confidently about them will only help you build rapport with the interviewer. On top of this, know your own background – when you did any relevant courses, details of your degree etc., so you can show why you are the best person for the job.
2. Dress Appropriately
Whilst ultimately it is how you act and what you say that will be most remembered, think back to those initial seven seconds that it takes to create a first impression and you will realise just how important your clothing choice should be. Make sure you are wearing smart, clean, ironed, fitted clothes that are one level above the job you are applying for. Dressing slightly smarter than you need to will not only show your desire to succeed, but will give the impression you take care of yourself and have done your research on the company. Avoid, garish patterns, sticking to plain, neutral colours to evade being remembered solely for your outfit.
3. Practice makes perfect
Remember this old saying? It works for interviews as well. Practice really does make perfect and it is important to have a run through with someone, so you can pick up on any points to research or improve. Prepare some answers for likely questions that they will ask and make sure you know the key points on your CV that they will ask you about. Think about why you would be the perfect person for this job before you go into the interview, so you have the answer in your head. If you are still at university, pay your careers service office a visit, to arrange practice interview sessions. This is an excellent opportunity to get feedback, as well as improving your confidence and interview techniques.
4. Don’t be late…or too early
There is nothing that annoys interviewers more than their interviewee turning up really late or really early. Turning up late shows that you are unreliable and not good at time keeping, which is an instant turn-off for employers. Whist being early is preferable, turning up half an hour before your appointment makes your interviewer feel rushed. If you do find yourself arriving early, go and find a coffee shop, or somewhere to sit down. Turning up 5-10 minutes before your appointment shows that you are reliable and professional and will immediately get you a tick in the box.
5. Stay Calm
It is inevitable that you will be nervous. Nerves actually help you in an interview; however, losing control completely will not create a good first impression. Make sure you know exactly where you are going, so you are not panicking about the location or journey, and ensure that you are prepared. Get everything that you need ready the night before, so you keep yourself calm and in control the day of the interview. Make sure you have planned and prepared for it and keep at the back of your head that the interviewer is just a normal person.
6. Prepare Answers
Although every interview is different, there are some standard questions that will always crop up; “Why [insert company name here]?” and “What could you bring to the job role?” are common ones. Prepare answers to questions like these prior to going to your interview so you can feel prepared. Don’t over practice your answers so that you sound like you are reading from a script, but be prepared so you can deliver your answers confidently.
7. Ask Questions
You can prepare these in advance, so you are not desperately trying to think of some when you get in there, but by asking questions, you are demonstrating an interest in both the company and the job role. Asking relevant questions will make you stand out from other applicants, and will make the interviewer remember you for all the right reasons. Prepare a minimum of five questions that will help you find out more about the job, as well as some that delve a little deeper into the company.
8. Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is one of the most important nonverbal ways of communicating that we can do in an interview situation. This will help you to engage with the interviewer, showing them that you are paying attention to what they are saying. It is also an effective way of disguising your nerves and appearing confident. When we are nervous, studies have shown that it is harder to look someone in the eye; however, it will be incredibly noticeable to the interviewer if you are looking anywhere but at them.
9. Speak Confidently
Speaking clearly, enunciating your words properly and speaking loud enough so that the interviewer can hear properly are all ways that will make you stand out in an interview. Not only will it make you sound confident, the interviewer is likely to have more faith that you know what you are talking about. If you are mumbling, stumbling over your words, and using a lot of fillers such as ‘erm’ and ‘yeah’ you will be standing out for all the wrong reasons.
10. Bring everything they ask you to
This may seem like a very obvious one, but nothing screams unorganised like turning up to a job interview with the wrong things. If you need to bring evidence of courses or any certificates, make sure they are kept in a folder and look presentable. Do not fold them and reach into a scruffy pocket to present them to your potential future employer. It is worth bringing a clean version of your CV should the interviewer not have access to one. This will show them that you are organised and prepared for all eventualities.
11. Ditch the Drinks
This is one that you may not realise has as much of an impact as it does. Not only does it look highly unprofessional if you walk into the interview with a paper coffee cup, but it also leaves you open to distractions and potential accidents during your interview. If you need to get a caffeine fix in, make sure you do it before your interview, not during.
12. Keep your phone out of sight
Similar to the coffee cups, it is a good idea to turn your phone off (or at least set to silent) and keep it hidden away in your pocket or bag. If you need to make a call, make sure you do so prior to your interview with enough time to place your phone away afterwards. Do not walk in carrying it, before placing it on the desk. You will not miss your phone for the length of the interview, and it could be the difference between the interviewer offering you the job and not.
13. Stay Focused
Do not let yourself become distracted during your interview. Having to have a question repeated because you have not been paying attention will not reflect very well on you. Remove all of the distractions that you can, do not fiddle with items or play with your hair, listen carefully to what is being asked. Staying focused in the interview will reflect what you will be like in the job.
14. Don’t talk too much
Whilst it is good to show an interest and ask relevant questions regarding the company and the job role, be careful not to talk too much. Make sure you listen and do not let your mouth get carried away. How you act in your interview is how your interviewer will see you acting in the job role. Be aware of what you say as well. If you know that you tend to use fillers such as ‘erm’, ‘like’ and ‘yeah’, make a conscious effort not to during the interview as this will make you appear less confident and sure of what you are saying. Remember that you are talking to a potential boss, not a friend.
15. Do not speak badly of previous employers
One of the biggest faux pas that you can do in a job interview is criticise or bad mouth your previous boss, or your university. Employers look for loyal employees and however badly you left your previous job role, a future interview is not the place to discuss it. As an interviewee you will appear disloyal. If you did leave on bad terms, try and find the positives if asked about your previous job – the role you played and your strengths within this role; not how horrible your old boss was.