By following our tips for preparing for a job interview you will improve your chances dramatically of landing your dream job.
You have spent weeks, and maybe even months, looking for and applying for jobs in your area. You have spent many, many hours preparing and delivering your CV’s. And now, finally, after all that effort you have had the phone call you have been waiting for! One of your job applications has been approved and they would now like to meet you for an interview! But of course, the hard work does not stop there. In fact, the hard work is only just beginning because preparing for a successful interview can mean the difference between getting the job and not. After all chances are you will not be the only person being interviewed for the position. So what can you do to improve your chances of standing out over the rest and landing your dream job?
Arrive at Your Job Interview on Time!
One of the single most important tips for preparing for a job interview that you can follow is to arrive for your interview on time. And by ‘on time’ we mean well in advance, perhaps as much as 15 – 20 minutes before your interview is scheduled to begin. Do not leave this important part of your interview up to chance. Plan your journey beforehand and prepare yourself by making the journey a day or too before. This will prevent you from getting lost on the day of your interview and will help you gauge exactly how long the journey is going to take.
If you arrive to a job interview late you have basically blown your chance of a successful interview. By arriving late to such an important appointment you immediately make a prospective employer question your time keeping skills and you are unlikely to come across as taking the job seriously. Plan your journey in advance and make sure you arrive with enough time to compose yourself before the interview starts.
Dress to Impress
One of the biggest single factors for success at a job interview is making a good first impression. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression! The very first judgement a future employer makes of you are based on the way you look and the clothes that you are wearing. So dressing appropriately for your interview is crucial to your success.
It does not matter what kind of job you are interviewing for, dressing professionally is absolutely vital. It is just as important to look smart and to be clean, so prepare well in advance to ensure that everything is clean and in order ready for your interview.
To dress appropriately for an interview men should:
- Wear a clean, pressed suit with a white shirt
- Wear a neat tie and do not tuck it behind the top button of your shirt
- Wear clean, dark leather shoes
- Avoid wearing jewellery
- Trim your nails and ensure your hands are clean
- Have a professional hairstyle, preferably short and neat. Avoid the ‘bedhead’ look
- Bring a briefcase
- Shower beforehand and wear a small amount of deodorant
To dress appropriately for an interview women should:
- Wear a clean suit with a matching blouse
- Wear a skirt length that you can comfortably sit down in
- Wear a limited amount of jewellery, i.e. earrings and a ring are plenty
- Wear natural looking make-up and avoid wearing too much
- Wear smart matching shoes, avoid wearing heels that are so high they are difficult to walk in
- Wear your nails neat and clean and avoid using garish nail polish
- Avoid wearing a lot of perfume, use only a small amount so as not to choke your interviewer
Things you should avoid when dressing for an interview include:
- Having headphones or earphones in whilst waiting for your interview
- Having your mobile on or if it must be on keep it on silent
- Chewing gum
- Bringing your coffee to the interview
- Wearing sloppy or overly casual clothing
The truth of the matter is we are all judged everyday based on the way we look and the way we act. A potential employer will be observing your body language and your facial expressions as you speak to them. So maintain a good posture at all times and remember never to slouch. If you are sat at a table then keep your feet together and keep your hands on top of the table. Try to look confident and alert, whilst coming over as relaxed. Gesturing is fine, but try not to over do it and avoid fidgeting. Never cross your arms in an interview as this will make you appear as though you are lacking in confidence. Try to smile as you enter the interview and maintain good eye contact throughout, without feeling as though you are staring them out!
Prepare Your Responses to Typical Job Interview Questions in Advance
Practice what you are going to say, perhaps asking a friend to conduct an interview with you. You may even wish to record yourself so that you can watch it back and listen to how you sounded. Plan how you are going to answer certain questions and keep practicing your responses until you can confidently and freely roll off the answers. Caution is needed however because you still want your interview to appear natural; it should never come across as forced or rehearsed.
During your interview you are going to be asked questions. Wikipedia states that
…a common interview question is “What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When answering the question about your strengths you need to bring out your attributes that are directly related to the job that you are applying for. You need to describe your experience and skills in such a way that they qualify you for the position you wish to take on.
For instance, ‘I have excellent people skills and am often commended on my customer service. I have a lot of experience in resolving difficult situations’.
Or you might like to respond by saying: ‘I pride myself on my ability to meet deadlines when working on a project. In fact, I aim to finish well in advance which gives me time to deal with any issues that may arise.’
When answering the question about your weaknesses, it is always best to have a well prepared answer. Trust me, the answer ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’ isn’t going to go down well!
Try to think of things that are not directly related to the job that you are interviewing for, and always try to turn that negative point into something positive. For instance, ‘I can be a bit of a perfectionist and can sometimes spend too much time checking over work to ensure it is perfect. However, I have now learned to do things correctly the first time so that I don’t have to spend so much time checking.’
Or you could say: ‘I have the habit of taking on tasks that I could easily delegate to others and spending too long on tasks when I could move onto another. This hasn’t stopped me from reaching my deadlines; however I do find it an effort to know when to stop and when to hand work over to others.’
Wikipedia goes on to explain that: The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. These questions are strongly encouraged since they allow the interviewee to acquire more information about the job and the company, but they can also demonstrate the candidate’s strong interest in them.
The candidate will usually be given a chance to ask any questions at the end of the interview. These questions are strongly encouraged since they allow the interviewee to acquire more information about the job and the company, but they can also demonstrate the candidate’s strong interest in them.
So before you even go into your interview, do a little research about the company that is interviewing you for a position. Think about questions you could ask about the company. You are likely going to be asked questions such as “What do you know about our company” and “Why do you want to work for us?”. Obviously you are going to need a better answer than ‘You were the only company that invited me for an interview.’ So use the time you have before your interview to find out a little more about the company. Use the company website to find out what their mission statement is, to find out about their past performances and to discover what they have planned for the future. If you are in any doubt about the position that you will be expected to fill then contact the company for more details before you go for your interview. This will help you come across as prepared for the position that you are interviewing for and will help you get a step ahead of your competition
Remember to speak clearly, you should neither shout nor mumble. Your pitch and tone of voice should be easy to listen to and clearly understood. Avoid stuttering and stumbling over your words and try to avoiding laughing or clearing your throat if you do not know what to say.
Beware of Social Networking
The greatest of care should be exercised when deciding which parts of your private life to share publicly with the world for all to see. Would you be happy for your new boss to take a look at your social media profiles, is there anything on there that could cause embarrassment? Make no mistake potential employers will use the social media profiles of job applicants as a way of finding out information about them. There are countless examples of people who, without thinking, have posted something on a social network that they otherwise would not normally say and have lost their jobs for doing so. Being completely open and honest is a good quality that employers will admire, but when it comes to your social media profiles using a little discretion is advisable.
Take a look at your social networking profiles and ask yourself what impression those profiles give about you as a person. Ask yourself would you be proud of this achievement and would you want your Grandma to see your status? Remember that something may only take moments to type but can put a dent in your reputation for a very long time.
Keep a Copy of Your CV
It is essential that you are completely familiar with the contents of your CV as they will be used by the interviewer. Make sure you remember every detail as if you are fuzzy on the details you will bring them into doubt. Nobody is going to hire somebody who can’t even remember the details on their own CV! The best way to remember what you put in your CV is to keep a copy of one. Before you even get to your interview you can read through your CV and ensure that you are completely familiar with what it says. Try to think of the questions that your potential employers are going to ask you based on what they know about you. They are probably going to ask you to expand on your previous work experience so make sure you are confident of the dates and positions of the various jobs you have done.
Having a successful interview should not be left to chance. Careful preparation beforehand to ensure that you arrive at your interview on time and that you dress appropriately can make sure that you create a good first impression. By researching the company beforehand and anticipating the kinds of questions they are going to ask you, you will come across as a confident, employable individual. Hopefully, by taking on board all the above recommendations you will be the successful applicant and will get the job!