At the risk of stating the obvious, here are some of the things you should do before and during an interview and some you most definitely shouldn’t. Find out as much as you can about the job and the company.
- The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. Have a look at their website or surf the Internet for any information or press releases. Make sure you know where you are going and do a “dummy run” if you can. Allow yourself extra time for traffic and public transport problems. Dress smartly. First impressions are very important. Little things like dirty nails or shoes, bad makeup or too much perfume can be off-putting to an interviewer before you’ve even opened your mouth! On one occasion we had to lend a candidate some more sober socks to replace the Homer Simpson ones he obviously thought would do nicely. Be pleasant and friendly to the staff who meet and greet you. Interviewers, especially in smaller companies, often ask the support staff (reception, secretaries, PA’s etc) for their opinion of candidates.
- Shake hands and make eye contact with the interviewer when you meet him or her. Take 2 copies of your CV with you even if you have already provided one. It’s always useful to have one to refer to during the interview.
- Be prepared to explain why you left your previous jobs and why you are looking for a new one now. If you left any of your previous jobs “under a cloud” try to present it in a positive light (without being dishonest). Try to keep your answers to the point and don’t ramble on. Be aware of the interviewer’s body language and try to pick up any signals that you are losing his or her interest. Prepare some questions to ask at the end. This will prevent your mind going blank.
- On your way out shake hands again and thank the interviewer for seeing you. Confirm that you are interested in the job (if you are) and ask when you can expect to hear from them. Don’t criticise former employers or colleagues or blame them for any problems you might have experienced. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unclear what the interviewer is looking for.
- Don’t EVER ask about holidays, benefits or even salary at this stage. That comes later. And lastly, don’t swear, eat, chew gum, text or answer your mobile phone. Oh, yes. You’d be surprised…