It’s that time again. You’re on the move, looking for greener pastures. You’ve updated your resume, contacted your recruiter and found an interesting job opportunity. Now the only thing standing between you and your next career step is the interview or interviews. Getting it right is not the same as not getting it wrong: it’s as important to know what to do in an interview as what not to do in an interview.
Our interview tips will help you prepare for an interview so you make a lasting impression.
What to do in an interview
A job interview is a chance to get to know your potential employer and vice versa. The hiring manager has reviewed your resume, liked what he/she saw and wants to see you. But it doesn’t stop there.
Here are some interview tips to pay extra attention to:
- Be confident: make eye contact and remember they want to meet you.
- Know your resume: expand beyond your resume and use anecdotes and concrete examples.
- Ask questions: what is a typical day like? What are the major challenges?
There are Dos and Don’ts for every job interview. The Dos (above) are the targets you should try to hit but the Don’ts are lines you definitely shouldn’t cross.
Here are some examples of what you should not do:
- Being late: There may be a good reason but there is never a good excuse.
- Negativity: Be positive about current and past employers and colleagues.
- Leading with money: First of all, show interest in the role not the reward.
The interview – before, during and after
The job interview is a process. It starts with the invitation and continues until you walk out the door at the end of the meeting. Honing your interview skills will give you the best chance as a candidate.
Job interview preparation
Preparation is essential. Make sure you can talk about every point in your resume beyond what’s on the page. Prepare for an interview by making sure you are able to give examples of challenges and how you overcame them in your previous roles.
Research the hiring company. If it’s a listed company, know the share price and if it’s up or down. Find out about the history of the company as well as the culture, the ambition and the competition. Show interest by preparing several interview questions to find out more about the day-to-day of the company and don’t be afraid to interview them right back. Ask about their daily challenges and how they overcome them.
Get to the job interview early to give yourself time to catch your breath. Interviewers will often ask reception staff about their first impressions so turn on the charm before you walk through the front door.
The interview itself is an opportunity for an employer to assess a potential employee. How you present yourself is essential in the interview and can make or break your chances of getting your dream job.
Make sure you dress appropriately. Business attire is recommended, but take into account the work environment. If it is a financial services role you’re going for, more formal business wear is required. If it’s a technology start-up you are looking to join then something less formal could also be appropriate, but until you’ve got the role you won’t truly know the company dynamic so keeping it smart is the safest option.
Body language is also vital. Folding your arms or slumping in the chair closes you off from open communication. Sit up straight, smile and, above all, make eye contact. The interviewer knows all about you from your resume. They really want to find out about your personality. Employers look for the right cultural fit in candidates. As should you, after all you will be spending a lot of time together should you be successful in the selection process.
Keeping the lines of communication open is important. Follow up after the interview with an email to thank them for their time and express how much you enjoyed the interview.
This follow-up is also an opportunity to establish expectations for further communication. Most interviewers will give you some indication about next steps. If they don’t, make sure you ask them about it so you are not left in the dark. However, it’s important to strike the right balance between being enthusiastic and pestering a potential employer.
Also avoid any social media posts about the interview you’ve just had. Potential employers will do their research on your online profile. Any social media post, even if it’s positive or meant in good humour, could be viewed as indiscreet.
Punctuality is vital and is sadly still one of those common interview mistakes. You don’t get any points for being on time but showing up late can give the impression you are disorganised, have poor time management skills or not really that interested in the job.
Take notes. Bring pen and paper and make a note of anything interesting like the name of a client or a product. This shows that you are well prepared, interested and at the same time, it gives you something to do with your hands.
Turn off your mobile phone. Again you won’t get any points for getting this right. However, your phone can disrupt the flow of a good interview or show your lack of preparation.
Be your best self
Remember that the interview is a snapshot of what you will be like to work with. Your resume states the facts but the interview tells the truth about you. This is what an employer is looking for in a potential colleague.
Spend time honing your interview techniques in advance of the conversation with the hiring manager. Interviewing is a learned skill, but there are techniques that you can learn to control the flow of the interview, even if you aren’t the one formally asking the questions. It’s also important to practice active listening, so that you fully understand the question and can ensure your answer is relevant to the specific skills that the interviewer is evaluating you on.
Remember that practice makes perfect. Learn some commonly asked questions and practice your answers. You need to present the best version of yourself. That means being honest, but it also means carefully selecting examples of your work history that demonstrate your aptitude for the specific role.
Take a look at our job interview page for more interview tips and advice.