It’s hard not to view an interview as an obstacle course, designed to trip you up. But more often than not, recruiters are willing a candidate to succeed, and giving them every opportunity to sell themselves. It would be a shame to pass up on any of those opportunities, so Devonshire has some words of advice for you.
That’s easier said than done, we know. But thorough preparation beforehand will help put your mind at rest, as will planning your route to the interview. Give yourself plenty of time and check for any public transport issues or road works that may affect your journey. There’s nothing more stressful than running late for an interview, and it won’t put you in the right frame of mind for selling yourself.
Give yourself an early night before the interview, don’t drink too much coffee beforehand, drink lots of water and take deep breaths.
‘Appropriate’ varies according to the type of job and company, but it’s a pretty safe bet that showing up in dirty trainers and a half-unbuttoned shirt will not make for the best first impression.
However formal or informal the company, there are three ground rules to follow when dressing for an interview: Your clothes should be clean and ironed; you shouldn’t wear anything too revealing; and steer clear of slogan t-shirts, even if you’re interviewing at a trendy agency.
Even if you’re nervous, there are some easy body language tips to make you look as relaxed as possible. Sit up straight, smile, angle your body towards the interviewer, make eye contact and nod to indicate that you are listening and engaged. Be sure to avoid negative body language too, such as crossing your arms, which can look defensive.
Avoid awkward silences
Saying too much is better than not saying enough. If an interviewer asks you an open-ended question (“tell me about your last job”), don’t answer with just one sentence (“I did the marketing”). The interviewer has left it open-ended to give you a chance to shine in your answer. Expand the most on the aspects of your current/last job which are most relevant to the job you are interviewing for, and outline your successes rather than just your responsibilities. If you planned an event, drop in some supporting statistics that indicate how you made the event a success rather than simply stating that you planned it.
While talking is preferable to silence, talking without giving the interviewer a chance to speak is taking it a little too far. Stay on topic, and keep the job description in mind. If you start talking about things that are irrelevant to the job you’re going for, gently bring the conversation back round to the relevant points. To help you stay on topic, why not print out a copy of the job description and your CV to bring with you? It will make you look prepared, and help you stay on topic.
If you don’t have an answer to a question ready-prepared, don’t just panic and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. The interviewer won’t mind at all if you take a few seconds to formulate an answer. You can even smile and politely ask them to give you a moment to properly word your answer.
Your interviewer is under just as much pressure as you
It’s easy to view the interviewer as an unassailable figure of power, but they’re just as keen to get things right as you are. Hiring is a big expense for a company – hiring the wrong person is an even bigger one. You’re helping them out as much as they’re helping you out, so help them make the right decision – which, of course, is to hire you.