Friday 2. 2018
You could think of a job interview as a nerve-wracking process during which you’re pitted against other applicants who may be just as suitable – if not “better” – for a position than you are, or you can look at it as the stage of a job search where you really get to shine. We tend to agree with the latter outlook. Your interview is an opportunity for you to prove that you’re the right person for the job – to take control of the situation and display the skills and personal suitability that may just win you a career-changing position.
But what steps can you take to absolutely nail it?
The team at TMI Resourcing have spent several years working in recruitment, so we’ve got a pretty good grounding in interview preparation. Here are the ten things we reckon you should do to ensure your job interview goes perfectly.
Most people tailor their CV to draw the prospective employer’s attention to any experience that is particularly relevant to the position they’re interviewing for. If you tend to do this, it’s definitely best to look back over the version you’ve sent so you’re ready to answer any questions about what you’ve previously written.
You should then study the website and any other details referring to the company – ie. press releases, making sure you’re well informed about everything they do and work to find out more about the role you’d be taking. Many interviewers ask “what do you know about us?” – so it’s important to be able to answer this fully and confidently. Don’t forget to take a peek at any social media platforms they may run too, as this will often inform you of the latest developments regarding the company and its activities. If you know the names of your interviewers, consider looking them up on Linkedin. We advise against going on an online following spree, however, as this may come across as a little obsessive!
As soon as you receive an interview invitation, read it thoroughly. If you’ve been offered a specific date and time, it’s obviously important to be sure that you can make it. You may be asked to respond with certain information too, so make sure to include this in your reply. Rushing to say yes without taking everything in may make you seem like an unsuitable candidate.
That said, you should respond to the request at your earliest convenience. You want to show that you are keen, and it’s best to avoid making your potential employer feel like an afterthought.
Many interview invitations welcome questions from applicants in case any further information is required. This isn’t just a formality – if there’s something you feel you ought to know before the interview, go ahead and ask. Just think it through and include everything in a single, concise email so the employer doesn’t feel pestered or bombarded. Also make sure that your question hasn’t already been covered or isn’t easily answerable using Google!
You can find decent lists of typical interview questions to prepare for online, though many companies will try to throw a few curveballs in there to try and get an answer out of you that hasn’t been rehearsed.
Aside from the technical questions relating to the practical side of the job, popular questions delve into matters of diary management, teamwork, working under pressure, resolving disputes and navigating complicated scenarios. You will likely also be asked about your perception of your suitability for the job. Try not to fall into the trap of offering “stock” answers to these questions (“my main weakness is that I work too hard!”), and consider coming up with a few concise, honest anecdotes detailing a time when you have put certain skills or approaches into practice in the workplace.
You’ll likely be asked if you have any questions as the interview draws to an end. A rookie mistake is to simply say no. Having a few questions prepared is a good way of indicating that you’ve thought deeply about the position. Be ready with a few, so that if your first couple are answered during the main interview you’ll have others waiting in the wings. Be sure not to ask questions that might give a negative impression, however (e.g. asking how much holiday you’ll get each year might suggest you’re just in it for the perks), and don’t ask questions that the interviewers have already answered (it’ll seem like you’re not listening), or that were explained in the job description or offer letter.
The truth is, what to bring to an interview really does vary from business to business, and you will always be informed of this either in your invitation or on a follow-up email. Remember, if you’re asked to bring something, it’s not optional. Interviewees for design positions might be asked to take their portfolio along, while those with vital qualifications might need to have copies of the relevant certificates with them. Take a look through all correspondence regarding your interview again the day before it takes place, just in case you’ve missed anything.
While the days of obligatory suits and ties may be all but over, you still need to consider your appearance. You may find a “dress code” specified in your interview invitation, which should be adhered to 100%. If not, don’t be tricked into thinking you can wander in in threadbare jogging bottoms and battered trainers. If your interview is in a public building, take the opportunity to wander in and take a look at what the current staff are wearing to get an impression. Of course, it’s always best to err on the side of smart – it gives a good first impression and your employer will always tell you if there are guidelines once you’ve landed the job. Try not to wear too much distracting makeup or jewellery and go easy on the perfume or cologne. The right shoes are important too – not just for the sake of appearance, but also for comfort.
As we’ve just mentioned, feeling right is just as important as looking the part. Heels that are too high may not only make you look like you’re more suited to a night out than a day in the office, but they come with the added threat of a tumble, or sore feet. Layers are a good idea, as they help you ensure you’re neither too cold nor too hot. Tight clothes can leave you feeling restricted, which can exacerbate nerves. If you’re prone to sweating, bring along some deodorant to use just before you arrive (not too much!). Handkerchiefs are also a great idea in case you have the sudden need to blow your nose part-way through. You may not use these things, but they can give you a sense of security.
If you’re the right candidate for the job, you’ll have suitable answers to all questions that are thrown your way – even if they’re buried deep in the back of your mind. Panicking can push everything out of focus, so try to chill. The best approach is to be relaxed and accepting. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Your interviewers may also be slightly nervous, and thinking about putting them at ease may offer you a little more confidence. After all, they need the right person to turn up. You need to reassure them that it’s you.
Confidence and cockiness are not the same thing. The attitudes of contestants on The Apprentice rarely constitute a good example of what to do in an interview – though it’s surprising how many candidates try to emulate them! Interviewers want to see a relaxed attitude, positivity, inquisitiveness and an ability to understand and answer all their questions in full. Keep this in your mind and it will be difficult to go wrong.
For help with achieving your dream job, just call the team at TMI Resourcing today on 0161 507 6939.