After all the hard work you put into making your CV stand out and impressing an employer with your application form, it’s the best feeling in the world when they want to meet you in person for an interview. But now is not the time to relax, this is where the hard work really starts. Now it’s time to really sell yourself and stand out from the other 10 or 15 people they may be interviewing! Here are a few tips to help you do that:
- First impressions count – It takes between 5 and 30 seconds for a person to make their judgement about you, and once they’ve made their assumptions it’s very hard to change their mind! So it’s really important to create the right first impression in an interview. Obviously the way you dress will be one of the first things they notice about you so keep it smart and well-groomed, and avoid too much jewellery or excessive perfume/aftershave. If you’re not used to wearing smart clothes wear them in the house a couple of times to get used to them and ensure you feel confident and comfortable. Carry yourself confidently, head up, shoulders back and offer a firm, confident hand-shake!
- Speak slowly and clearly – It’s perfectly natural to be nervous in an interview but there are ways you can ease your nerves and appear more confident. Speak slowly and clearly, there may be one interviewer asking the questions and another one recording your answers so think before you speak and don’t talk too fast! If English isn’t your first language you may want to consider taking a course to improve your conversational skills. Most cities in the UK have a language school. Taking English Courses in Manchester, London, and Birmingham etc is useful as larger cities provide more opportunities to practice your conversational skills.
- Research the company – Every company worth working for will have a website, so use it! Look for key information such as the roots of the company, any future visions they have, their ethics and morals etc. If there’s not enough on the website then it’s a good idea to give them a call or visit their premises to ask a few questions. It’s good practice to structure your research as a SWOT report: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Look at what the company does well already, areas they could potentially improve on, what’s happening in the industry that could provide good opportunities, and any external threats from competitors or the economy.
- Preparation is key – There are certain interview questions that always get asked, such as “Why do you feel you’re right for the position?” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?” So prepare some answers to several commonly asked questions and you’ll feel more confident when these questions arise. Try to think of several situational stories/anecdotes that demonstrate your skills, for example if you’re asked about a time when you gave great customer service, be specific, talk about specific situations and customers. Make sure you know what the job description and person specification are for the role and answer questions accordingly to demonstrate how you meet the employer’s needs.
- Ending on a good note – Make sure you’ve prepared 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. Try asking them things like “What does your training plan offer?” or “How much scope is there for personal development?” Questions like this show that you’re interested in the company and a long-term future with them. It’s also good practice to thank the interviewer for their time, perhaps followed up by an email the following day. Little touches like this may make you stand out more than other candidates.