The Interview: How To Ace It, In Ten Easy Steps
So. Your CV and cover letter, made glorious with our handy guides, have scored you an interview. Well done you! Huzzah! Because we’re always here for you, we don’t plan to ditch you at this final hurdle- no, we’ve compiled our top ten tips for brilliant interviews, from what to wear, to what to say. As the Scouts say, Always Be Prepared- and with these ten steps, you will be….
1. Be On Time
And by that we mean, absolutely, dead on time. The time they tell you to be there- not after, and not before. Your interviewer is almost certainly a busy person who has an awful lot of things to do, and entertaining you, pre-interview, is almost certainly not on that list. Allow yourself ten minutes more than you think you need for the journey; five minutes of that will be eaten up by public transport, and five minutes of that can be used to run through the things you want to say, and being zen. It’s important to be zen.
2. Do Your Research
Know everything you can possibly know about the thing you want and the people who can give it to you. Google is your friend. Google knows everything. Remember how you did for your cover letter? Just like that. Know about the interviewer. Know about the company. Know everything that Google tells you.
3.Wear The Right Thing
Yeah, yeah, we know, that’s vague. That’s because the “right thing” depends on the place you’re interviewing for. You know how you did all the research, in Point 2? Office culture can be researched, too. It’s common sense, really: smart suit for a city law firm, jeans and a jumper for a nannying job, wellies and a pac-a-mac for wannabe foresters. If in doubt, dress up, not down: looking extra professional for an interview is never a bad thing.
4. Blow Your Own Trumpet
I mean, first you have to find your trumpet. You have to find out what you’re good at and how that’s exactly what the company needs. Make a list before you go, if you like: every desirable attribute on the job spec, every task they mention, their overall goals, and how you fit with them. And then you have to march in there, and tell them. Have specific examples. I can do this for you, because I have done this, and this, and this. I can do this thing, because I did this other thing. I am this thing, and I can prove it by showing you this and this. Here is a thing I did. Look at all my brilliant things! I am so brilliant! Hire me!
5. Think Before You Speak
“So,” says your interviewer, consulting this handy checklist of questions, “Tell us about success. What does success look like to you?” And your mind, as minds have an incovenient habit of doing, goes blank. Blank as milk. What…what now? But this is not the disaster it first appears to be. Pause. Just do exactly what it says on the tin, like Ronseal- take a deep breath, reassess, speak. It makes you look thoughtful. And it makes you look more handsome, probably.
6. Look Them In The Eye
…and sit up straight. One makes you look honest, the other makes you look like you’ve got good posture. (Everybody wants to employ people with the self-will necessary to overcome the Laptop Hunch.) Both make you look like you have self-confidence, and self-confidence is the answer to almost every awkward social situation. Up to, and including, the interview.
7. Be Polite
Like Point Six, meet your interviewer’s eye, be prepared to give a good firm handshake, and for god’s sake mind your Ps and Qs. We aren’t joking about the handshake, either- it’s widely reported that employers make a decision in the first twenty seconds of an interview. In those twenty seconds, you need to seem like the sort of person that they’ll want to work with: look them in the eye, shake their hand with panache, and smile.
8. Ask Good Questions
You know that bit at the end of the interview when they ask you if you have questions? HAVE QUESTIONS. If you haven’t got questions, you haven’t been researching enough, you don’t care enough, and they won’t give you the job. Ask questions that nobody else will be asking. Ask about expansion; ask about principles; ask about the job itself. Ask questions that you really, honestly want the answer to.
9. It’s Not You, It’s Me
There’s one question, though, that you need to ask yourself, and keep asking yourself: is this right for me? As with every social interaction (see: dating, making friends, studying), a job interview is a two-way process. Do you share the same interests? Do you care about the same things? Do you hate the same things? Are you trying to do the same things? We’re not saying that your job has to be your life, but take it from us- you’re going to be an awful lot happier if you and your new employer aren’t ideologically opposed on every point.
10. Keep In Touch
Follow-up emails are absolutely standard: you go home, and then it’s basically like when your mum made you sit down and write thank-you letters after Christmas, only with a hefty helping of your own impressiveness. Mention something you talked about at interview. Mention some more things you thought of afterwards. Thank the interviewer again. It makes you look lovely, thoughtful, and reminds them that you’re very brilliant. Isn’t that a nice thing?
Good luck, nice people! Come back and tell us how it went!