Going for a job interview can be overwhelming, especially if you really want the role in question. The most important thing is that you are prepared and present yourself well. To help out, take a look at our top tips below.
Before your Interview
Prepare Your Appearance
Your interview outfit should be smarter and more professional than you would usually wear when working in the job. For example, if you would usually wear a shirt and trousers, a whole suit would be appropriate for an interview. If you are unsure, it is best to be formal, with a suit, or blouse and skirt for the ladies. Shoes should be clean, polished and close-toed, while the shades of your outfit should be kept plain and professional. Avoid bright colours or patterns and instead stick to blacks, greys, whites and navy blue. Do not wear clothing that is too revealing or that distracts from your interview. Ensure that your hair is neat and tidy, any facial hair is neatly trimmed, and makeup and perfume are kept to a minimum so as not to be distracting.
While it is best to be prepared, do not bring multiple bags, briefcases or portfolios into the interview, as this can make you look unorganised. Instead, carry only one item and sit it carefully on the floor beside you as you enter the room.
Before applying for any job, and especially interviewing for them, it is essential to do your homework. This will not only help you answer questions, but it will allow you to find out more about your role within the firm, should you receive an offer. Well-researched answers show that you put time and effort into preparing for the interview, which will convey both motivation and diligence to the interview panel. Try and add some of what you have found out into your answers to show off your expertise.
Below is a list of information to research, let’s take a closer look.
· The company basics including its founding story, size and structure.
· The company mission statement and values.
· The company’s competitors and market share.
· Changes in the industry you work for and trends that have been popular in recent years.
· Recent current affairs that may impact the field of business that you are interviewing for.
Be On Time
Leave enough time to get to your interview so that if there are unexpected delays, you still won’t be late. The best time to arrive is between 5 and 15 minutes early, but if you so arrive earlier, you can wait in your car or a local coffee shop until closer to your interview time. Use this extra time to read over your notes or calm yourself before walking into the business. Do not travel the route to your interview for the first time on the day, practice this in advance so that you know where you are going.
During Your Interview
Manners cost nothing but mean everything. Employers want their staff to be professional and to understand business etiquette, so it is important to convey this. Do not sit down until you are told to, or your interviewers have and ensure you shake their hands before doing so. Put away any electronic devices such as phones, tablets or laptops in order to give the interview your full attention, and ensure that they are on silent mode.
As well as judging your manners and the answers to your interview questions, interviewers will also be looking at your body language and how you present yourself, especially if you will be in a client facing role. Therefore, it is important that you have good posture. To do this, sit up straight and place your hands in your lap, do not put your elbows on the tables and do not fidget with anything on the table. Make eye contact with the interview panel when they are asking, and you are answering questions, and make sure that you smile even if you are nervous. When starting and finishing the interview, shake hands with the panel, ensuring that this handshake is not too loose or too firm.
Answering Interview Questions
You should be prepared to answer any question that may be thrown at you, so it is a good idea to bring a few things with you that may help with this. These include extra copies of your CV and references to hand to the interview panel. While they may already have seen this, having it in front of them can be beneficial, and it shows you are prepared. Depending on the role you are applying for, it may also be a good idea to bring examples of your work to show your skills.
One of the most common questions that you may be asked, where a lot of interviews struggle is a ‘tell me about yourself’ question. Answer this question by stating your background, what drives you and what your plans are for your career, including why you want to work for the company in question.
Your answers to each individual question should be clear. Vague answers will not sell yourself to the interview panel, so instead, answer the questions clearly, giving more detail than a simple yes and no answers. Instead, your answers should introduce what you will be speaking about, give a good explanation of what you mean, with relevant examples of work you have done in the past to back up what you are saying.
While you may not be happy with your current employer, hence why you are interviewing for a new company, do not make negative comments about them as this will make you look unprofessional.
What Questions Should You Not Ask?
When asking questions to the interviewers, it is important to avoid a few that may give them a bad impression. Firstly, you want to be prepared for the interview and look competent, so do not ask any questions that you could have researched the answer to in advance. The questions themselves should be kept professional and, therefore, should not be related to any personal opinions or circumstances (for example, discussing families or what the interviewer likes to do in their spare time).
Think of questions as a way to show what you can do for the company rather than what they can do for you. Ask questions about the work you may be undertaking or potential career paths within the firm. Do not use this time to discuss vacation time, employee benefits or pay. This can be negotiated after you have been offered the position.
End The interview
At the end of the interview, after all the questions have been asked, it is important to get across to the interviewers that you are thankful for the opportunity and their time. Ensure that you summarise your key points, reminding them why you are the best fit for their role and how enthusiastic you are about it. You want to remind the interviewers why you will be an asset to their company.
If you are aware that there is more than one round of interviews, state that you are excited to discuss this opportunity with them again. If you know that this is the final round of interviews, reiterate again that you would love to work for the business in question.
After Your Interview
After your interview, it is important to follow up with the business within 24 hours. This is to ensure that you stay in their head as they are coming to a hiring decision. An easy way to do this without taking up too much of their time is to send a follow-up thank you note. This note can be sent via email or can be hand-delivered (typed or handwritten). The type of communication that you should choose is entirely dependent on what industry you are applying for a job in. If your role is likely to be in IT or software, sending an email is best as this fits in well with the work that you will be doing. Other formal fields such as law and business should be delivered a typed, formal letter. In contrast, other types of business or smaller businesses may appreciate the personal touch of a handwritten note. Handwritten notes are great as they show that you have taken time out of your day to sit down and contact them.
Within the note, you should once again state how interested you are in the role and how much you would love to work for their company. Give a few reasons as to why their company is top of your list. This tells the employer that even after your interview and first impressions of them, you are still enthusiastic about the role. Include a further thank you for their time and state that you enjoyed getting to know them further. If you visited their offices, you may wish to say something that you loved about their space, for example, collaboration areas where colleagues can work effectively together. Remind the interviewer about the things that set you apart from other candidates, whether this is your qualifications or experience in previous roles. This will leave a final good impression in the interviewers head while they make their final decision.