Leading up to an interview, you will have put plenty of time and effort into your CV making it stand out to get you to this point in the process. Why wouldn’t you then put this much effort into your interview?
If you are serious about getting a new position, it is crucial you prepare well for the interview. The interviewer / decision maker has roughly 45 minutes to an hour to make a decision on you so first impressions are key. Before you have even opened your mouth, a judgement will be being made on your appearance. Make sure you dress for the occasion, for example a full suit, shirt, tie and smart, polished shoes. In certain jobs, you may be client facing and your attire should mirror that of the company and their clients. Also, this doesn’t apply to everyone but you may want keep the facial hair trimmed or be clean shaven. A firm handshake is worth practicing too. Interviewers make their initial impression within seconds of meeting you and these are some of the first things they’ll notice.
Be on time! Clear your diary for as much time as you can before and after the interview so you are not rushing to get there or get away. You need to have a clear head to focus on the interview and not be worrying about time constraints. If you arrive late, you will be worrying about this and it’s not the best first impression. If you are trying to get away, this will come across in your answers which will have little or no thought go into them.
Do research into the company before you attend a meeting with them. If you are guaranteed one question in an interview, it will be along the lines of ‘what can you tell us about the company’? Or ‘why do you want to work for this company’? The only way you can answer this is to do your homework on the company. To not do this is lazy as information can be easily obtained through a number of sources, for example, the internet, your recruiter, industry professionals. Also, don’t memorise information and list off facts like a robot, take an interest in the company. Learn about their history, how they came about, what they do, what their plans are, etc. It will help to learn about the interviewer too, find out their background and try to find some common ground – this really helps build the relationship. Look into the role you will be doing and see how you will fit into the team, this will lead to you asking questions (always have one or two prepared) which again shows interest and how keen you are on the role. Lastly, find out the location of the interview venue and make sure you know how to get there. If you have time before the interview, do the drive as a practice run so you know how long it will take you to get there – this should help with arriving with time to spare. Make sure the venue address is correct as these can change, especially if the meeting is off site. By doing this, you will be able to see what parking facilities are available if needed. Have change ready just in case the car park is a pay and display.
Your body language will say a lot about how you think the interview is going. You need to come across confident but not cocky or complacent. A few examples of this; give eye contact to the interviewers, be articulate, sit up straight and keep a good posture, smile, don’t fidget with your hands (this is the biggest giveaway). Believe in yourself and think positively, you want to put across to the interviewer why you would be a good asset to their company.
Before entering the interview, have it clear in your mind what the motivation is driving you to get this position. ‘The position is offering a higher salary’ and ‘the office is closer to home’ do not make good answers. Progression is a good motivator if you are moving for a step up in your career, or if you want to work for this new company because of their success and reputation in the industry. With salary, don’t mention this unless it is brought up by the interviewer. If it is discussed, the best advice I can give is to be honest. Don’t lie about what you are currently earning and be realistic with what salary you are looking for. If you are offered a figure that you quote in the interview, don’t then ask if there is scope for improvement – the company is being good offering the salary you asked for in the interview. You might not want to mention about running your own business in five years’ time as this doesn’t show commitment or longevity for the employer.
Take a copy of your CV to the interview. The interviewer may want a copy for the interview but not have it to hand so be prepared. Also, take examples of your work and projects you have worked on (if applicable). It is always useful to be able to show what you have achieved and this is important to get across in an interview. Be proud of your achievements and talk about the experience / skills you have and how you will be an addition to the current team. You have an hour or less to prove yourself so don’t be shy.
A couple of things to avoid – Answering / checking your phone. During that one hour of the day, turn it off! If it really is crucial to have your phone on due to personal circumstances, explain this to the interviewer as soon as you enter the room. Also, previous employment will probably be discussed so be careful how you describe your time there. The chances are the interviewer could know someone that works at one of these companies so don’t put them down. Even if you had a terrible time at a company, be diplomatic in your answer – you never know who your next boss might be!
It would amaze you the amount of people that don’t follow what seem like ‘simple rules’! I hope this helps when you are next preparing / attending an interview. Remember, if you are going in with your top button undone and slouching in the chair, it’s similar to having a coffee ring stain on your CV.