After googling to the world’s end and ‘spraying and praying’ your applications on every job board known to man, you’ve finally got a response and it’s good: you’ve got an interview! However moments after rejoicing at the prospect of landing a proper job in the real world, you realise how nerve-wracking interviews can really be. Below are some handy tips so when the time comes for that grilling, you’re more than ready to take those questions head on:
1. Be on time
Short of some personal tragedy or horrendously bad traffic, there really is no excuse for turning up to an interview late. Being late gives off a bad first impression and a bad start to the interview. You’re likely to be more flustered, nervous (and probably a bit sweaty if you were in a rush) and no one wants that right before an interview.
Top tip: arrive 10-15 minutes early, calm your nerves, read your notes and compose yourself.
2. Dress appropriately
This really depends on the industry you’re looking to get into. Got an interview with a famously casual dress code company like Google? A shirt and jeans will do. Got an interview with a big management consultancy firm? A suit is definitely what you should be wearing. You aren’t sure of the right dress code for the potential employer? Smart casual is generally a safe bet, but if you want to be exactly sure, just contact the employer beforehand. So no ugg boots and meggings yeh?
Top tip: General casual business wear is a safe choice, but if you’re unsure, contact the employer beforehand to check.
3. Have positive body language
This is an obvious one but so important. Having an open body language, that means not closed closed off or having folded arms, is much more welcoming and inviting and basically someone you would want to talk to. Don’t forget about your facial expression and just smile. These are your potential work colleagues and no one wants to hang around with Mr Scrooge in the office.
Top tip: Relax, be open and warm, and don’t forget to smile.
4. Re-read over your CV, covering letter and the role
Don’t leave this till the last 5 minutes before your interview starts. Your CV and covering letter are the two documents that your interviewer will probably base most of their questions on. So know these inside and out, and refresh your memory about the role itself. Employers will look at your experience and ask how that and your skills relate to the responsibilities of the job.
Top tip: Know your CV inside and out and be prepared to answer how your previous experience will help you handle the responsibilities of the role.
5. Do your research on the company
Although this might seem an obvious one, many people go unstuck when the employers start asking them that big question: ‘Why do you want to work for us’? Many go for generic statements and answers that you could say about the majority of companies e.g. ‘I want to work for an ambitious, forward-thinking company’, ‘the company culture looks like a great place to work’ etc. Employers want to see real enthusiasm and that you’ve actually looked up what they do and that you’ve got an informed opinion.
Top tip: Spend time beforehand researching what the company does, how are they different from their competitors, and form an opinion of why’d you want to work for a company like them.
6. Ask questions
So you’re nearing the end of the interview and your interviewer says ‘I think that’s all we wanted to ask you, do you have any questions for us?’. Don’t just go ‘No I don't have any questions’, this is a golden opportunity for you to dig deeper into the company, what your interviewers (and potential line-managers) enjoy and dislike about their jobs. Also feel free to ask questions throughout the interview, not only is it an encouraging sign that you’re engaging in what the interviews are saying but it makes for a much more natural conversation rather than just a straight up interrogation.
Top tip: Note down any potential questions you want to ask before the interview.
7. Follow-up email
You’ve done it! You’ve gotten through one whole hour with an interviewer and you answered all the questions reasonably well, you smiled and they were friendly. Now you need to add the icing on the cake: the follow-up email. This is a simply a polite email you send after the interview (1-2 days after you’ve had it) where you reiterate your enthusiasm about the role. The follow-up email can also be used if your interview experience didn’t go to plan. If you came across as particularly nervous, and couldn't answer a particular question particularly well, the follow-up email gives you a chance to address that in a nice, concise way. It might not necessarily redeem the interview, but it at least shows you made the effort and really want the role.
Top tip: Be concise and enthusiastic in your follow-up email when reiterating your enthusiasm about the role.