I’m no expert, but I spent a lot of time surfing the internet in search of interview help before I went along to my first one yesterday. I was a nervous wreck of course and it would have really helped to have some comforting advice all in one place. Some of these things I found out and knew before I went, some I wish I knew, either way, I’m glad to know them now and to be able to share the knowledge.
One – Remember that the person doing the interview wants nothing more than for you to succeed. If you’re perfect for the job and they can hire you, their job is done. Bear in mind they may already have a heavy work load and interviews could be keeping them away from it. They’ve advertised a role because they want to fill it and they’re probably pretty keen to fill it quickly. They need you as much as you need them. So do them a favour and be perfect.
Two – Confidence is everything. Make sure you feel confident in what you’re wearing and think the outfit through in advance. Black and white is safe, but a colour can be nice. A blazer is good. As a couple of my trusty friends told me, you can never be too smart.
Saying that, don’t try too hard and make sure you’re comfortable more than anything else. I’ve never been a make-up kind of girl, but before my interview yesterday I was so worried about looking my best, I caked it on. Then I got so ridiculously stressed over whether it looked alright, I took it all off and started all over again. In the end I went with what I’m comfortable with. A light splattering of mascara and some lip balm and I felt so much better for it. Simply stick to what you know and you’ll be fine.
Three – Reserach the company. Practice answers to all the predictable questions. Particularly: Why do you think we should hire you for this job? What do you think we are looking for? Tell us a little about yourself? Whether you have a friend or loved one who has the patience to listen or not. Sit in front of a mirror if you have to. Practice until talking about yourself feels completely natural.
Four – Be Prepared. Take a bottle of water. Plan your journey, work out your travel time and leave extra early. Take tissues. Take a pad and pen. Have contact details for the person interviewing you in case you get delayed. Know who you’re calling when the interview is over to debrief.
Five – Expect the worst. If your ideal interviewer is a man, imagine it’s going to be a woman. If you hope the interview doesn’t involve any practical aspects, presume it will. Make sure when you get there, you’re ready for anything and you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.
You probably will be. My interview yesterday was really enjoyable. No-one ever tells you that if you’re interviewing for a position that you actually really want, you’re actually very likely to enjoy meeting the people, seeing the office and getting a glimpse into what could be your future. So get excited, not just nervous.
Six- Remember to ask questions. This isn’t just an opportunity for them to figure out if they want you. It’s a chance for you to decide if you really want the job too. Be sure to get a feel for the surroundings, the people and the working environment.
Seven – Reread the application you submitted before you go. Remind yourself who you are on paper. Remind yourself of everything you’ve learned from every job you’ve ever had. Remind yourself what you did and didn’t include. Pick holes in your history as if you are the interviewer. Try to figure out where the holes are and come up with excuses for things they might question… Low A Level Grades, 3 months out of work etc.
Eight – Be ready to show them that you are the person specified. Save a copy of the Job Description before the closing date because there is a high risk of them taking the online vacancy down afterwards and removing any trace of the job description with it. This is bad because you want to be able to reread the person specification before interview and ensure that you fit. Have examples of times when you have done exactly what they say they want you to of done. If they say they want you to be organised, make sure you can think of an example of a time when your organisation really paid off. Also, use the job description for interview clues. They’re likely to base their questions around it.
Nine – Remember you’re only human and they know that. Don’t freak out if you can’t do everything they said they want you to be able to do and if you aren’t everything they said they want you to be. Be aware of the things that might hold you back at interview, but don’t be discouraged by them. Be ready to recognize your faults at interview and show a keenness to improve, challenge yourself and learn new things.
Ten – Believe in yourself. You’re going to have to talk a lot about what you’re good at and how amazing you are. If you don’t believe it, they never will. Hold your head up, smile and be proud.