Interviews are tricky. With first stage interviews lasting roughly 45 minutes to an hour, as a candidate you have a very short amount of time to convey your skills, personality and suitability to a job.
So how do you ensure you’re memorable for all the right reasons?
Do your homework. The most basic of tips is to be prepared. Don’t just scan the company homepage but research your prospective employer thoroughly, including their industry sector and key competitors. Check out the profile of your interviewer on LinkedIn, read the job spec so you know the remit of the role off by heart, think through relevant examples of previous experience that you can draw on to substantiate your suitability, and think of plenty of questions to ask when prompted. Ask your recruitment consultant for insight: part of our service is to fully brief each candidate before his or her interview. As confident and knowledgeable as you might be in your field, an interviewer can smell an under prepared candidate a mile away…
Look the part. This is a job interview: you’re potentially asking this company to pay you thousands of pounds a year for your services so make the effort. Interviewers (believe it or not) are human too and will note things like creased clothes, messy hair and dirty shoes… Of course each company will have different dress code policies so if you haven’t been provided insight into what that is, play it safe and polish those boots!
Show them you really want the job; it helps! You can be wearing the smartest of outfits but if your body language and responses don’t match up, you’ll suck all the energy out of the meeting and leave the interviewer underwhelmed. Sit up straight, keep your hands on the desk, maintain engaging eye contact and remember to smile (not constantly, that would be overkill). Just try not to over do it – the ‘just downed a litre of red bull beforehand’ look isn’t necessarily conducive to a good interview experience!
Ask questions, don’t just answer them. Interviews are two-way things (add link to previous article) so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even better, come prepared with them written down – there’s no harm in that. Or as the interviewer talks through stuff, write down some questions for the end. And make sure they are genuine questions, not stock ones you’ve Googled… Always have at least a couple of questions for the end of the meeting; the last thing the interviewer wants to hear to the classic question “do you have any more questions?” is a one word “no”. If your questions have been answered during the course of the meeting, then simply say “I was going to ask about X and Y, but I’ve got a good understanding of this from what we’ve discussed”... this demonstrates you’d given good thought to what you wanted to get out of the interview prior to the meeting.
Don’t ask silly questions. “What is the annual bonus/benefits, what are the hours, how long is lunch, do you all go down the pub on Fridays?” are just no-nos. It’s not that these aren’t important pieces of information, but they can be found out later in the process and by asking them, you risk giving the wrong impression about your work ethic. Keep questions in line with the job - this is why preparation is key and helps prevent the panic from setting in and letting silly questions slip out whilst you try think of what you’d actually like to ask.
No one likes a moaner. Don’t be remembered as the candidate who moaned about their current boss or client. You might be justified in your thoughts and currently working for a total dragon, but keep them to yourself; it simply isn’t what the interviewer wants to hear. Always keep it positive, diplomatic and drama free.
Impossible is nothing. Employers recruit people because a job needs doing and problems need solving. If the role is vacant or about to become vacant, generally that workload will land on someone else in the business in the meantime and more often than not, it’s on the person sat opposite you in the interview. So demonstrate you’re the man or woman to take that burden away. Confidence, skills, energy and drive – that “problem solving” mentality is invaluable and can’t be taught.
But don’t get too carried away. Enthusiasm is key, but don’t get too animated; you will run the risk of not listening properly to the question or interrupting the interviewer. This can not only be irritating, it can also create concerns in terms of whether you’ll be difficult to manage, or whether your ability to interpret important conversations correctly.
Now tell me you want the job – and why. If you enjoyed the interview and want the job, tell them. Showing the interviewer that you’re keen can make all the difference.
Follow up, but stay cool. Every interviewer appreciates a brief follow-up note. If nothing else, saying that you enjoyed meeting and are happy to answer any other questions is a polite gesture. But don’t start stalking them on social media or calling every day for an update – that’s a major turn off. Your interviewer is busy and may have a process to conclude before updating you. Speak to your recruitment consultant about how to best reach out and separate yourself from the pack.