Interviews are designed to help an employer get to know you, so they can decide if you’ll fit in at their company. However, they’re also an opportunity for you to get to know the employer, and to find out whether or not they’re someone you’d like to work for. It’s definitely a two-way street.
Three top tips
1 – Be prepared
Make sure you know where you’re going. Getting lost on the way does not help nerves, trust us.
2 – Be on time
Don’t be late. No excuses.
3 – Be calm
It’s OK to feel nervous, but don’t let nerves get the better of you. Deep breaths.
Acing the Interview in five steps
1 – Get Ready
Interview success lies in the preparation, so spend some time beforehand getting ready. That means finding out where you’re going, of course, but also researching the company and asking yourself some key questions: what do they do? How successful are they at doing it? Why do you want to work there, and what can you bring to their team?
2 – Dress to impress
You don’t need to swagger up as if you’re on the red carpet, but make an effort: dress smartly, be neat and tidy and show the people interviewing you that you’re taking this seriously, and that employing you would be a wise move. Oh, and smartphones off, folks!
3 – Take your time
It’s tempting to just start talking immediately when you’re asked a question. Instead, take a breath and consider your response: your interviewers will respect the fact that you’re listening to them and thinking carefully about your answers. Also, don’t lie – you’ll get found out in the end.
4 – Tell them what they really want to know
Interview questions are designed to help employers find out whether or not you can do the job. Show them you can with your answers: when asked about skills, give examples of using them. Working out a revision schedule shows that you’re organised, for instance, while doing some work experience will have been great for your communication skills.
5 – Any questions?
Make sure you ask a couple of questions at the end. They don’t need to be difficult, but things like ‘how do you see this role developing’ or ‘what’s the five year plan for the company?’ show that you’re thinking ahead and would be committed to the job. If they don’t have a plan, it might not be the place for you…
If this is your first interview for a job or Apprenticeship out of school, no employer expects you to have buckets of experience. Just tell them about your studies and extra-curricular interests, and how they’ve helped you prepare for work. It’s absolutely fine to give examples of school / college activities, sports teams etc. and the skills you developed through them; your interviewer knows that everyone has to start somewhere and will be supportive.
Sometimes you might be faced with a more unusual questions, such as ‘if you were the Lord of Biscuits for a day, what would you do?’ In these cases employers want to see how you react and think on your feet, it’s not about getting the ‘right’ answer. Be yourself: pause and think about it before saying ‘I would outlaw dunking as a cruel and unusual practice,’ or whatever feels natural to you.