So you’re over the first major hurdle: you’ve got an interview. Now the work really begins. Don’t be tempted to wing it on the day. The more thought you give the interview ahead of time, the stronger your performance will be.
Here are our top tips to help give you the edge:
1. Do your homework
If you don’t know the basics about the organisation, you will look lazy as well as uninformed. Look at things like last year’s profits, latest product launches and the latest developments in the wider industry. Look at the company website and its presence on Twitter and Facebook. Search for some information on the company history and its management team.
2. Rehearse - out loud
You might feel silly interviewing yourself in the mirror or getting a friend to ask you questions but it is worth doing. Many interviews will go along fairly predictable lines meaning you can really prepare. And if they throw you a curve ball you’ve got the basics covered so you can concentrate on whatever is thrown at you. It’s a well-worn cliché but a question along the lines of ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses’ is almost certain to pop up in some form. Know what you are going to say. Look at other common interview question and rehearse your answers.
3. Look the part
Although you shouldn’t be getting hired just because of the way you look, your appearance still matters. How much attention you pay to your appearance reflects your overall enthusiasm for the job and employers want to see people who care. As a general rule dress one level up from the job you are applying for and if in doubt it is better to dress conservatively than casually. You can always dress down after you have landed the job.
4. Plan your route and arrive early
This might sound basic – and it is – but it is still incredibly important. A candidate who arrives late gives a very bad impression. It sends a message about your overall competence and ability to plan ahead and deal with difficulties when they arise. Make sure you know exactly where you are going and give yourself enough time to get there 15 minutes early even if you miss a train or hit bad traffic.
5. Stay calm
Easier said than done, obviously, but if you have done the preparation and got there in plenty of time, you can afford to be confident. Remember those interviewing you want you to be a great candidate. They are not looking to trip you up but to find that you pass the test. Of course you will have some nervousness but keeping a handle on it will help convey the impression that you are good under pressure.
6. Prepare to sell yourself
Of course the whole interview is about selling yourself but you should also prepare a 30 second ‘pitch’ if you are asked ‘why should we hire you?’ This is sometimes called the elevator pitch as it should be possible to deliver it in the time it takes to ride in a lift. This isn’t a time to be humble, but of course you should keep to the facts. Highlight your strengths and what you think you can bring to the role ahead of others.
7. Think of questions to ask
You should always have some questions prepared to signal both your knowledge of, and interest in, the job and organisation. If you have nothing to ask it says a lot about how much you have prepared and how much you want the role. Make your questions specific and about the company. Avoid generic queries. It shouldn’t need saying but don’t ask about holiday allowances at this stage as it just makes it look like you’re keen not to do the work.
There’s one final tip for after the interview, which is often forgotten in the relief of getting it over with. Always send a note or email thanking the interviewer for their time and say again how keen you are on the job. Don’t make it a long message, just a short note to reinforce what’s already been said.