Just a few seconds. That’s all the time you’ve got to make a good first impression. And when creating a good first impression can help you land the job of your dreams it’s important that you get it right. Job interviews are intimidating. They are drawn out, formal and can be uncomfortable. But with the right preparation and research you can walk into that boardroom and turn an interview situation from a one-on-one grilling into a brilliant opportunity to showcase your talents. And whether you’re applying to work in the creative industries, IT, finance or the public sector, there are a few golden rules to follow to help secure your success. Take a look at these for starters.
Do your research
By background research we don’t just mean a company’s history and current situation. In depth research should include finding out about their future plans. How do you fit into that vision? If you can show in interview that you can help a company realise their goals, you turn yourself into a sensible long-term investment. You can’t change your employment history. You can’t boost your qualifications. But you can know more than every other applicant about the company you’re applying for. Show them that you’re the person who can help them to realise their targets and visions.
Prepare your questions
You want to come across as someone who is an active participant in proceedings. You won’t do yourself any favors if you sit passively fielding their questions, nor will you appear very interested in the job. As a rule of thumb, try to come up with three thought-provoking questions to ask your interviewer. By thought-provoking we mean questions that need more than a yes or no answer, or that can’t be easily looked up on the internet beforehand.
Turn the tables
Yes, the interview is your time in the spotlight. But that doesn’t mean you have to give away all your power. An interview is also an opportunity for you to find out if a company is right for you. The questions that you ask can help you do this. Try to find out about the company’s future prospects and the potential it presents for your personal growth. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer direct questions about their experience at the organisation if it feels appropriate; it can be a way of building rapport.
Learn your lines
Now we’re not suggesting that you learn stock responses and recite them like a parrot, but there are a few killer interview questions that always seem to come up; “what attracted you to this job?” or; “why did you leave your last position?” may be off-the-shelf interview questions, but they will almost certainly put in an appearance at some point. If you’ve done your homework you’ll be able to answer cool and clearly, even to the dreaded “what’s your biggest weakness?” (Note: the correct answer is NOT that you’re a perfectionist).
Practice makes perfect
Enlist the support of a helpful – and honest – friend to role-play the interview with you. Yes, you might feel silly, but it’s well worth doing. It’s a great opportunity to verbalise the questions and answers that you have in your head, practice eye-contact and highlight any holes in your technique. Get feedback from your friend and try not to take any negative comments too personally. It’s impossible to know how we truly come across to others, so if your friend tells you that you speak too fast or that you giggle when you’re nervous, pay attention to their comments and try to act on their advice.
Before you leave the house on the big day itself, make sure you’ve:
– printed off a spare copy of your CV and cover letter
– planned your travel
– checked exactly where the interview is
– learnt the name and job role of the person interviewing you
– left enough time to arrive 15 minutes early
– thoroughly ironed your outfit
– remembered to put on deodorant.