Although some interview tips seem pretty obvious (such as don’t pick your nose), some novice interviewees can face unbeknown pitfalls during their first few meetings. Find out what the top 5 tips are to ensure you stand out in the interviewer’s eyes and make the cut:
1) Dress up
Yes, it’s an obvious one, but crucially important. You have to dress smart to make that first impression count. Girls will do well with either a nice shift dress or skirt/trouser suit, with discreet jewellery (if any). For guys, a nice ironed shirt and smart trousers, along with a sober tie (steer clear of red ties for interview) will go down well. Don’t forget to shine your shoes and groom your hair.
I know they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but if I am paying for it, I want it neatly presented. It’s the same case with recruiters: if they are going to pay your salary, they want to see you in top condition right from the beginning. Don’t lose that first opportunity to shine in their eyes.
2) Mind your body language
Mimicking the interviewer is common advice but I don’t really suggest that, because that is simply a way of pleasing them and nothing more. Instead, be firm in an interview, talk like you’ve just led Sparta to victory. Ok, don’t get that carried away, but keep track of how you present yourself; sit up straight and don’t cross your arms as body language experts see this as a sign of lack of both interest and willingness to communicate.
Get the basics right, i.e. smile whilst speaking (you should honestly be happy you are at an interview, if you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be there!) and you will already be ahead of the game. The use of hands to explain ‘stuff’ is fine, but don’t be too animated. Settle into the seat and then start speaking, don’t rumble along and then speak too quickly. Interviewers know that you will be a bit stressed, they don’t expect you to put on a performance like Max Clifford (the PR guru), so don’t try to act, just be natural. Having said that, don’t get too casual but strike a healthy balance in between.
3) Research the company well before embarking on the interview
I speak to people who interview students and graduates and one of the main reasons for rejections is that the interviewee did not know anything (or anything substantial) about the company. If you are going in for an interview, research the company thoroughly, don’t just recite the “About” page on their website, but try and speak to its employees on LinkedIn, see if there is any information available though blogs, etc.
Researching a company will ensure you will be able to answer questions thrown at you in an intelligent and poised manner. Without putting this research in, you are significantly diminishing, if not obliterating, your chances of employment.
4) Answering by example
When in an interview, remember that the outcome of the problem you solved isn’t important, what the interviewer wants to know is how you went about doing the job. In my first interview (3 years ago with National Grid) I made the amateur mistake of answering the questions concentrating more on the results than the method. Remember to answer with examples, e.g.: if you get asked…Wait, see what I did there? I demonstrated the technique for you – using examples when answering interview questions shows that you have actual experience of a situation that you can substantiate with examples.
On a similar topic, please mind your language. I know we like listening to JLS, Lady Gaga and some old school music, but please avoid answering as if you are talking to a bouncer outside a London club: it’s not “sumfin”, it’s “something” – those little things make a lot of difference when you are competing against top graduates at an interview.
5) Know your dates
One of the simplest and basic interview tips is knowing your dates well! Why? Simply because if it comes up in an interview, you come across as a responsible person who knows his/her ‘stuff’ well. If you get asked about the earliest date you can start, it is better to be very specific: “2nd week of X month onwards”, rather than: “I am free in a few weeks”.
That’s what we do – we write simple tips which make a lot of difference to your interview outcome. These tips are based on observations, conversations, or personal experience, so I hope you take note of them and implement them in your search for jobs on Give A Grad A Go. For more information and opinions on graduate careers, have a look at Career Geek.
This guest blog post was by Faizan Patankar, founder of Career Geek, a resource for students and graduates aiming to bring articles, advice, views and interview posts about the graduate job market.