Interviews are terrifying, there is no denying that simple fact. There is, however, a way to overcome the fear, and that is preparation! Once you have fully prepared yourself for how your interview will play out, it will seem a lot less intimidating. Having been recently reminded of the scary interview process, I have decided to share with you all my top ten interview tips. That way you will all hopefully be more relaxed and confident, leaving room for your lovely personalities to shine through. Keep reading to find out how I tackled my interview nerves, which ultimately got me my new job!
You should get started on this one as soon as possible, preferably as soon as your interview has been arranged. By research, I mean getting to know the company and the job role like you already work there.
Employers are looking for candidates who want to work there. People who are passionate about the company, and are aware of it’s current and future goals. For smaller businesses, there is only so much you can find out about them, of course. But you should also be focusing on the job role which you are applying for and the job description.
You should conduct your research thoroughly and thoughtfully. No, they probably won’t quiz you about what exact year the company was founded, but they may ask you if you are aware of the company structure or what the company’s ultimate goal is. Using your own common sense you will know what to, and what not to focus on.
You should be able to get all of this information on the internet. Employers aren’t unreasonable. If the information isn’t easy to find online, they won’t expect you to know it.
As for the job role, think about your experience and how you can sell yourself as the perfect candidate for this job. Think about what the job description is expecting of you and how you can use actual evidence and examples to prove that you will be able to meet (and exceed) their expectations.
Read and Re-Read your CV and Covering Letter
If you think about it, your CV and covering letter are all about you. It is all your employer knows about you at this stage. It may not feel like you because it’s formal and clunky and doesn’t mention that you like to go out with your mates every Friday night and drink half a bottle of gin – it is the professional version of you.
With this in mind, if your CV is mentioned in your interview and you draw a blank, it’s probably an indicator that you may have been fibbing or stretching the truth. To avoid awkward moments like these, I would definitely recommend printing your CV and covering letter and revising them using a highlighter and colourful pens.
Memorise the important bits. Pretend like you are your interviewer and look for things which they may find interesting or want to question you on.
Basically, get to know your professional-self like the back of your hand. Become besties and vow to keep your love for gin a little secret between the two of you.
Prepare for Typical Interview Questions and Topics
Although every interview is different, you can revise for them like an exam. The better prepared you are, the better you will do. If you start preparing your answers and conversational topics it will work greatly in your favour. Prepare anecdotes and evidence to support yourself.
For example: if you’re interviewing for a customer service role; it’s quite likely that they will ask you something about how you would conduct yourself to ensure that you are providing good customer service. You can totally prepare for this! Speak about how you’ve positively treated and helped other people, be it friends, family, colleagues or total strangers.
Use a true story as evidence of why you suit this position. I say a “true story” because yes you could make something up from thin air, but it will probably be quite evident to your interviewer that you are lying. You’ll be nervous as it is, you don’t want to be stumbling around a lie on top of that! If you give yourself enough time to prepare you will definitely think of sufficient TRUE examples.
Plan Out your Day
This is probably the main tip that you’ve always been told for interview success: get there early. It may seem like an obvious one, but if you’ve never travelled there before it could be really easy to be held up and to arrive 5-10 minutes late.
Arriving late tells your employer two things: 1. I’m not really bothered about this job. 2. My time management skills suck. Of course, you don’t want to give the impression of either of these things! It could honestly be a genuine mistake – but you need to make the effort to avoid being late at all costs.
If you’re relying on public transport, make sure to get the train/bus/tram which will get you there at least 15 minutes early. That way, if you need the toilet or you need to grab some water or you hit traffic on the other end you won’t have to run to your interview. Turning up like a sweaty mess won’t look too great either.
If you can, make a trip from your house to the place of your interview a few days before and time it. If you can’t do this, there’s always the route planner on Google Maps!
Pick Out a Smart Outfit
Look at the weather forecast and pick out an outfit the night before, to avoid any last minute changing disasters which could make you late and/or stress you out.
Ahhhhh what do I wear to my interview?? It’s simple: dress for the job you want. If the job description says smart casual, I would recommend going on the smarter side to be safe. Don’t go overboard with the makeup, hair and accessories either. Keep your hair away from your face and your hair minimalistic. You want to look smart and clean.
When I say dress “smart”, use your common sense. As is perfectly shown in (one of my ultimate favourite movies) Step Brothers if you turn up for an interview for a cleaner’s role in a tuxedo, you will look absolutely ridiculous. In fact, stay away from the tux altogether guys!
EG: For my interview I wore a black shirt underneath a black, knee-length shift dress, black tights and some black brogues with a smart coat.
Get a Good Nights Sleep
I know, I know, easier said than done right?! If you’re really worked up and anxious and unable to sleep, remind yourself: what, realistically, is the worst that can happen?
They won’t laugh you out of the room under any circumstances. The worst that can happen is that you get a phone call or an email which tells you that you’ve been unsuccessful. In which case, it wasn’t meant to be and you can chalk the interview up to experience and continue on with your life a little bit wiser.
Distract your Mind
On the way to your interview, don’t dwell on what lies ahead too much. You’ve prepared as best you can, now it’s pretty much out of your hands.
Listen to some music, a podcast, watch your favourite Youtuber or read a good book on your travels. This will distract your mind away from the nerves (even if just ever so slightly) and more importantly, will improve your mood and your demeanour.
Be Confident and Friendly
The time has come. You know what to say and how to wow them – just make sure you smile and are confident. If you’re not naturally like that, just fake it until you make it! Don’t let your nerves get to you. Use your adrenaline to your advantage.
The interview will probably last an hour max – see it as a performance. It’s only an hour of your life, you need to make every second count.
So smile, laugh at their jokes and remember, they’re probably just as nervous as you. Interviewing people can be pretty daunting. So remind yourself that they are just as nervous as you are – it will all be fine, I promise.
At the end of your interview, their final question will most likely be “and do you have any questions?” Yes! Yes you do! Remember, you want to look interested in this role, but you also want to show some initiative.
Prepare these questions in advance when you’re doing your research. TRY not to ask about salary – of course if it comes up, then discuss it, but you don’t want to look like that’s all you’re in it for.
I always struggle the most with this bit, but I’ve learned so I’ll give you a couple of examples of the questions I’ve started to ask (and they’re good ones):
- “Why did this role become available?” – you may feel a little uncomfortable asking this but trust me, it’s a totally reasonable question to ask. If redundancies are being made, if they’re expanding the team or the department, you have a right to know about it!
- “Is there anything on my application which concerns you?” – this is the time for you to get some feedback. Personally, I’ve always gotten a flat “no” on this one, which is lovely to hear. But if they’re concerned, you should open a dialogue so that you can explain and reassure them. Perhaps they think you need more training – tell them how willing you are to get that and the steps you will take to get the ball rolling.
Aaaaaand breath. It’s all over now. What I like to do is plan something to look forward to straight after the interview. On my last one I treated myself to a lucozade and a bacon turnover from the pastry shop on my way home (yummmmmmmmm). I also bought some ingredients and did some baking when I got home before playing the Sims into the wee hours.
At the end of the day, there are probably lots of things you love doing which you can never find the time for. Well make the time! You’ve put so much hard work into this interview, you bossed it, and now you deserve some down time. If you’re struggling for ideas, check out my Self Care post, there are plenty of examples in there!
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Well done for making it through to the end of this one. Apologies for the length of this post – but I reaaaally hope it helps even just one of you in your future interviews!
Have you had an interview recently? Do you have any useful tips to share? Do you want to confess to a nightmare interview experience? Please comment below and let me know what you think!
Thank you so much for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on my other social media accounts, and feel free to comment below or message me for a chat. I’d love to talk to you.