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Top 5 interview dos and don’ts
You’ll find a lot of advice out there about how to dress, what to say, what not to say and how to present yourself at a job interview – in fact it can be downright confusing and overwhelming. Don’t worry, though, we’ve made it simple for you. Here are the top five dos and don’ts to bear in mind ahead of an interview.
1. Do be prepared
Find out everything you can prior to your interview – this means researching the company’s history, its values and, if possible, its future plans. Not only will this show the interviewer that you have done your homework, it will also help you to establish whether your own values fit the company. After all, an interview is as much about you getting a feel for the company as it is about the company getting a good idea about you.
Find out who the interview is with; it makes a big difference whether your interview is with the HR manager or your prospective line manager - or even someone higher in the pecking order. Use all the tools at your disposal, whether it’s LinkedIn or Google, to try and get more information about what they do for the company and a little of their own career to date. If nothing else, it will help you feel more relaxed knowing a bit about who you’ll be meeting – and you can always ask them about their own role in the company when the time comes for “Any questions for us?”
2. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet
We Brits are often so reserved about coming across as big-headed or too forward, but a job interview is one of the few places where it’s essential to blow your own trumpet. This is your one opportunity to get across to the interviewer exactly what your skills are and why you are perfect for the role – they aren’t mind readers so the only way to do this is just say it. It’s possible to get information across without appearing to brag; simply be clear and concise, and ensure you underline how your skills match the job at hand. Speaking with passion can also help you appear genuinely enthusiastic and not pompous.
If you’re likely to get nervous, then make a short list of your achievements ahead of time and have them ready to refer to in the interview, if need be.
3. Don’t dress too casually
The phrase “Dress for the job you want” is absolutely correct. Even if you’re unsure about the dress code or office etiquette, always err on the side of caution. It’s much better to go over-dressed to an interview than under-dressed. It shows you have made an effort, signifying to your potential employer that you are serious about wanting the role and that you take pride in your work. So we’d always recommend professional and formal.
If you are offered a second interview then you can always pare your outfit down once you have established more of a feel for the company. Failing that, speak with your recruitment consultant for some advice.
4. Do have ideas and questions
If you have prepared for your interview (as per point 1) then you will have researched the role and company. This should hopefully open up a list of questions and help you come up with some ideas (however vague) that you could bring to the role. If you want to impress at interview, try to come up with two or three ways in which you feel you could contribute or improve the existing service or role (without pointing out any flaws). You may even be able to expand on these in the interview itself, but if not, at the very least, the interviewer will no doubt admire your proactivity.
This goes double for questions. There is always an opportunity at the end of the interview to ask questions and it can be hard to think of anything on the spot when interview nerves are at play. However, it’s essential that you take advantage of this as it shows you are interested in the role and the company. Make a list of questions as they occur to you during your research and bring it with you to use as a prompt, should your mind go blank. Just be sure to listen carefully during the interview so that you don’t ask about anything that has already been covered.
One tip, though: avoid asking about salary at this point. If you’re lucky, the interviewers may volunteer the information, if not, ask your consultant afterwards. Instead, focus your questions on positive aspects such as the company culture and growth opportunities.
5. Do be on time
This may sound obvious but it’s an important point. Being late to an interview is an absolute no-no. Research your route ahead of time and if possible, do a dry run. Make sure you know where to park or how long it will take to walk from the train station. Plan to arrive 10 minutes before your interview slot.
Not only will this ensure that you make a great first impression, but it will allow you to feel more relaxed, rather than arriving as a hot flustered mess. If it’s a video interview then the same rules apply, just make sure you’ve tested your connection ahead of time.
Occasionally things happen that are unavoidable or out of your control – if you are going to be late then call the company/your consultant and let them know, they will appreciate the courtesy and (usually) exercise some flexibility.
If you follow these five golden rules, then you should feel a little more confident when approaching a job interview. If you still need some support, then get in touch – we’ll guide you through the process and offer all of the support you need to help you try and land that dream role.