Well done, you've got yourself an interview! Now that you're this far, let's make sure the next stage goes to plan too.
- Dress the part - don’t give your interviewer any reason to be distracted by anything other than how great you'd be for the role. Dress smart and groom yourself properly. That means no crazy jewelry, no wacky hairstyles, and try to keep the piercings to a minimum.
- Sell yourself - just because you haven't been working for the past five years at a highly recognised company doesn't mean you don't have great work experience to sell yourself on. Remember that work experience placement or internship you did for two weeks, or your part-time job over the summer? They're great examples of you working hard and gaining experience of the working world! Don't forget about any activities you did at school - these show off your skills too!
- Know your stuff - this one can't be stressed enough! Whatever the company, read up on them - find out what the company does, their size, the services it offers, the target market, and their culture. You want to go into your interview with as much knowledge as possible. Don't only show off about what you've done, show off about what you know too.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- It goes without saying, look smart - you're trying to make a good impression, and certainly in a working environment, smart is the look to go for. We don’t mean you need to wear a full corporate suit, but guys, think grey or black chinos, a shirt and tie, with some smart shoes, and girls, think a skirt and a shirt. Don’t hang yourself up on blazers and heels, you need to be comfortable - just look smart, professional, and like you’d fit into the company.
- Fresh breath and clean teeth are a must, ditch the gum and stick to mints.
- Although you may love your piercings and tattoos, not all employers do - it’s a good idea to cover up your tattoos, and take out any piercings for your interview as they can give an unprofessional vibe.
- And finally, now you've decided what you're wearing, don't forget to wash and iron it and make sure you've removed that little tea stain, before hanging it up ready for the day. And don’t forget it’s not just your clothes that need to be clean too - make sure you arrive freshly showered and lightly spritzed
This shows you're well organised and punctual - definitely what a potential employer wants to see. When planning when to leave home, don’t forget to factor in delays – it’s always better to be early and wait, than be late. Remember, if you are running late and it was unavoidable, do give them a call to let them know, and make sure you apologise!
As soon as you're at the interview location you need to be in interview mode. This means no quick glances at your phone before you go in, no distractions or temptations. If it’s in your bag, make sure it’s on silent or switched off, not just on vibrate.
This means a copy of your CV and covering letter, and any examples of work experience you’ve mentioned in them. Don’t forget any proof of ID if required too!
“So, tell me, what are your strengths and weaknesses?” It can be a difficult one if you’re not prepared in an interview. It can seem intimidating – you could either not big yourself up enough because it can be embarrassing, or you could over do it.
It’s time to blow your own horn, and you’ve got to be specific about it! Make a list of your strengths that go into each of these three categories:
Knowledge-based skills: Your skills gained from education and experience (e.g., computer skills, languages, qualifications, training and technical ability).
Transferable skills: Your portable skills that you can take from job to job (e.g., communication and people skills, problem solving and planning skills)
Personality traits: Your unique qualities (e.g., dependable, flexible, friendly, hard working, expressive, formal, punctual and being a team player).
Whatever your list includes, make sure you find a way to link it to the job – your relevant training for the role, your great communication skills, and your punctual and hardworking attitude. These are all strengths that employers look for. Remember, in your interview, you’ll want to cover all three categories to ensure your potential employer gets to see a rounded view of you.
When you’re talking about your strengths, don’t feel shy, be proud of having such great strengths!
We’ve addressed your strengths, but what about your weaknesses? You don't want to highlight these too much, but of course, you still need to answer the question.
Everyone has weaknesses, whether we want to admit to it or not, but we usually wouldn’t want to talk about them in an interview.
There are ways around overemphasising your flaws such as counteracting it with a strength. For example;
Being organised wasn't always my strongest trait, but I found ways to manage my time and therefore my organizational skills.
I like to make sure that my work is perfect, so I tend to spend a little too much time checking through it. However, I've come to a good balance by setting up a system to ensure everything is done correctly the first time.
I used to wait until the last minute to set appointments for the coming week, but I realised that scheduling in advance makes things much easier.
By turning your weaknesses into strengths, you’re still answering the question, but showing your ability to adapt and problem-solve – a great quality to have!
If you don’t get the job, don’t be too disappointed. Ask for feedback so that you can keep improving your interview technique and nail the next one.
Small things really do make a big difference, and something as simple as a thanking the interviewer for thier time can go along way.