It’s the email you've been waiting for, you have an interview for that job you think would be perfect for you, but how do you turn interview into employment?
It doesn't matter if you are fresh out of university or job hunting for the hundredth time, interviews can be difficult to master. In the lead up to an interview we can often start to question many things about ourselves. Am I really good enough for this job? Will I talk too much? Or maybe not enough? Will they like me? This can all happen before you have even sat down to start your preparation.
No two interviews are the same because everyone has their own interviewing techniques, but, having recently been through the interview process, these are my five top tips that are sure to help alleviate stress and get you off to a great start.
1. Be Early
It sounds like common sense to some but always make sure you are early to an interview. The last thing you want before meeting a potential employer for the first time is to be rushing, sweating and stressed. Make sure you research the journey you will need to take in advance so you know timings and can account for unexpected circumstances like traffic.
I’ve found that when I arrive early to interviews it gives me extra time to centre myself, go over my preparations one more time and the process always goes much smoother than if I had rushed. Whatever you do do not be late. Your time and your potential employer’s time is important, do not waste it.
‘To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, to be late is to be forgotten’ - Elin Hilderbrand
Equally, don’t be too early as this can also put undue pressure on your interviewer’s schedule. So if you’re more than 15 minutes early, take a walk round the block, or grab a coffee nearby.
2. Do Your Research
Always, always, always do your research! This can be a number of different things; research the company, the job role, or the task you’ve been set. Whatever the job is that you are trying to obtain, make sure you are as prepared as possible. One interview I attended while at school was for a well-known supermarket and as I was familiar with the brand I didn’t think to research further into the company beforehand. Big mistake.
‘Don’t be left unable to answer questions that a simple Google search could’
I was required to complete a questionnaire, something I find I usually perform well in, and ended up highly embarrassed that I did not know the answers to what would have been simple questions if I have taken the time to research the company.
3. Be Honest
We all want to come across as the best versions of ourselves in interviews, which can sometimes lead us to be more agreeable than we should be. An interview is the first chance an employer has to get to know you beyond a CV or portfolio. If they ask you something you are not 100% about, be honest. Don’t try to give the answers that you think that your interviewer wants you to say - it’s often painfully obvious. Far better your prospective employer to know in advance that you are a trustworthy person, besides, in today’s working environment skills can always be taught on the job, so don’t be worried a small thing will cost you the job.
If you aren’t honest these things always have a way of coming out. I have been in companies before where progress was halted because a new employee who claimed to have a certain skill during their interview actually didn’t. This, of course, resulted in the rest of us having to pick up the unexpected work they weren’t capable of doing. You definitely don’t want to be responsible for your new colleague's upsets.
4. Be memorable
You don't have to be the loudest person or have distinguishing features for an interviewer to remember you. When you are preparing, try to think of something that helps you to stand out from the competition. In the past, whenever I have attended an interview I tried to think of ways to go the extra mile (and I don’t mean cake bribes!) For example, if I have a presentation to deliver I bring physical handouts; this means that the interviewer has my notes to take away with them and will be more likely to think about me and the interview again later on.
‘If you can’t be brilliant, at least be memorable’ - David Ogilvy
As a marketer, I tailor my presentations/handouts to the company brand and often use their logos/colours. plus, where possible, typography. This links back to doing your research; using the company’s branding can help the employer imagine you as an employee, plus it shows resourcefulness, which never hurts.
5. Ask questions
While it is true that an interview is your chance to impress your potential employer, and hopefully get the job, it is also a time for the employer to impress you.
If you are attending interviews, chances are you are unhappy in your current lineof work. Try and remember why that is and what you think would help to change that, in order to help shape your questions. Be careful though, this isn’t a chance to vent your frustrations; save that for friends and family.
An interview is your opportunity to ask important questions that could be the determining factor on whether you take the job or not, should it be offered. Ask about the things that matter to you, whether that’s office culture, development schemes, career progression, or anything else you think will make you happy to get up on a Monday morning because salary really isn’t everything.
Interviews, like exams for some, will always be a difficult process but try to remember that something about you and your work got you through the door and in front of your interviewer. They saw something that interested them, so now is your chance to prove them right.