Here are our tips on how to prepare for an interview and not be a quivering, nervous wreck on the day:
1. Don’t be afraid to ring up and ask about your interview. Find out whether it’ll involve group exercises or tests, whether you need to prepare anything, what format the interview will take and how long it will last. It’s also a good idea to find out who will be interviewing you.
2. Don’t be late! Work out how long it will take to get there and give yourself plenty of time. You should aim to arrive ten minutes early. If you’re using public transport, check beforehand if there are any scheduled works that might disrupt your route. Make sure you have the contact details of the interviewer with you, including their telephone number, their email and the address of the company.
3. Telephone interviews. If you’re taking the call on your mobile, make sure you have strong signal and the battery is charged. You don’t want to be left with a half-finished interview and an embarrassingly dead mobile.
Sit at a desk with a pen and some paper. It’s also a good idea to have your CV and covering letter to hand, along with your notes about the company. Tell your housemates, family, cat, dog and goldfish not to disturb you (a firmly shut door usually works).
4. You should check and double check the time and date of the interview. So if they email you saying: “The interview is at 10am on the 7th of May”, you should send them an email back to confirm, saying: “The 7th of May at 10am works for me”, or something to that effect. Put an alarm on your phone with the interview time and date, write it in your diary, stick it on your calendar and tattoo it on your forehead (ok, maybe not).
5. Research, research, research and research. Scrutinise the company’s website, check out their competition and find out where the company plans to go in the future. Look for news articles about them and make sure you really (and we mean really) know what is going on in the sector. Look beyond corporate values: What are they passionate about? Does their outlook match yours?
6. Practice makes perfect. Write down a list of questions they might ask you and get someone you know to ask them. That means imagining the worst or most tricky question they could ask you (e.g. look at your CV and pinpoint any weaknesses they might mention) and how you could counter it. But remember, you don’t want to sound too rehearsed.
7. What to wear? Clothes for a start. The main thing is to look smart and presentable. No school boy errors! All gents should invest in a well-fitting suit, a nice tie and a pair of smart, polished shoes. Ladies, on the other hand, have a wealth of options to choose from, but you should always try to be smart, professional and presentable. Think more tailored jacket, less boob tube.
Some businesses have a more casual look, but always dress slightly more formally, just to be on the safe side. Obviously if you’re going for a job with a young, hip design company, then full business attire might not be appropriate.
Some people even suggest hanging outside their offices at the end of the day to see what employees are wearing. It’s worth getting out the clothes you are planning on wearing and checking them for stains a few days before your interview. You don’t want to rock up in a dirty suit!
8. Always come armed with questions. It’s highly likely that you’ll be given the opportunity to ask some questions at the end of the interview. Try to prepare some in advance, such as where the company plans to go in the future and more detailed questions about the role you are applying for. Bring your CV, covering letter and a notebook and pen. You might want to jot down some questions beforehand in case you forget them.
9. The best job interviews take the form of a formal conversation. You want to interview them as well. After all, you are also deciding whether this company is right for you. It’s fine to ask about aspects of the company which interest you. It’s all about fit. Don’t be arrogant or dominate the interview, but don’t be afraid to pipe up. Read up on interview techniques and interview body language.
10. Think more ‘expect the unexpected’ rather than ‘be afraid, be very afraid’. Every interview will be different, so the main thing is to be on your toes and ready to react to whatever curve ball they throw your way.