Welcome back to my post series on planning and organising your latest job search! In this post, I’m going to share the best Interview Tips I’ve found in my time job hunting. Whether your next interview is in-person or virtual, I’ve got the tips to ensure you make the best possible impression!
If you have had to search for work recently, you’ll know that job hunting is no easy task. For most of us, the days of walking into a life-long career are gone. Instead, we face an endless slog of applications, most of which we’ll never hear back about. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry, I know your pain! While job hunting will never be straightforward, I have some planning advice that should help you get some traction. I’m also sharing a free Planner & Tracker download, to help kick off your job search in style!
In this Post Series:
- Part One: Setting Job Search Parameters
- Part Two: Creating a Great CV (or Resume)
- Part Three: Know Your Worth
- Part Four: Interview Tips
- Part Five: My Personal Job Hunting Tips
Interview Tips for Every Situation
Regardless of whether your interview is in-person or virtual, there are some really essential elements to make sure you nail your first impression and give yourself the best possible chance of landing the job. Here’s my collection of top tips to prepare for an interview.
Preparing for the Interview
- Do your homework. Research the company you’re interviewing with, so you have at least a rough idea who they are and what they do. Looking surprised about basic facts doesn’t make a great impression.
- Be familiar with key criteria and responsibilities and have an idea of examples you can use to prove you meet them. Interviewers don’t mind you taking a few moments to gather your thoughts, but they don’t appreciate it when you don’t know the basic job description.
- Think of responses for typical questions; here’s a thorough list to get you started. You don’t have to have a set answer for each, but have a rough idea of the example you’ll use when faced with the pressure of “what’s your greatest weakness?”
- Be punctual. This has to be as simple as it gets. If you aren’t on time for an interview, why would an employer expect future punctuality? Leave home early if it’s an in-person interview, or make sure you’re set up and sign in ahead of time for a virtual one. If something does cause a genuine delay, get in touch to apologise and rearrange.
- Dress appropriately. This may be very different depending on what the interview is for, but basic good hygiene is always a must. Dress in something you feel confident and comfortable in. Struggling to walk in new heels looks less professional than a nice pair of flats.
- Prepare questions for the interviewer. Here’s another list of ideas to start you off. Some may be answered before you can ask, that’s ok. Just be ready to ask questions of the interviewer; a good conversation flows both ways.
During the Interview
- Turn your phone off! Seriously.
- It’s ok to be nervous! Don’t rush your answers, this is why you’ve done preparation beforehand. You know what answers you want to give, so explain them clearly.
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Most interviewers are a great judge of character and can tell if you’re faking it. Be your (professional) self and if you’re a good fit that will come across. If you’re not a good fit, that probably goes both ways and it’s not an environment you’d enjoy in the long-term.
- If you get a question that surprises you, that’s ok too. Have a few moments to think about your response and work through it.
- Keep your body language professional and confident. Handshakes are out of the equation at the moment but keep your posture tall, try not to fidget and remember to make eye contact.
- Don’t badmouth your previous workplace or colleagues. You’re here to talk about why you’d be a great addition to the team, not to complain about why you’re searching for a new role. Keep it positive.
- Make sure you get the interviewer’s name and try to get at least an email address. If it’s an in-person interview you can ask for a business card, or if it’s virtual you can find email addresses on the meeting invite.
- End the meeting on a positive note; enquire about when you can expect to hear back and reiterate your interest in the role.
In-person Interview Tips
While virtual interviews may be popular currently, face to face will always have a place, so here are some tips to deal specifically with in-person interviews.
- Plan to arrive early! The traffic will be bad or the bus late if you try and cut it fine (one of the laws of the universe!) If you’re more than ten minutes early, sit in the car or outside nearby and do some calming exercises or last-minute revision. This is not wasted time, it means you arrive relaxed rather than out of breath.
- Be nice to the gatekeeper. First impressions always matter. Whether you have to wait in reception or ask someone to point you to the manager, this is your first chance to show your best professional manner. If you interact with someone before your interview, they may be asked what they thought.
- Don’t be overloaded. Juggling three bags and a coat isn’t a great look. If you can minimise what you’re carrying that’s great, having a notebook to record names and answers can be good but try not to have notes to read answers from.
- You may get shown around the office and introduced to some of the team. Again, try to make your best first impression and remember names where you can.
Virtual Interview Tips
One big change to job searching in 2020 is that virtual interviews have become the norm. Here’s some interview tips to get you through them.
- Test your systems before your interview. I don’t mean five minutes before, I mean the day before. Check the lighting, make sure you can be heard and cover up anything you wouldn’t want to be seen in the background.
- Make sure you have everything you need within reach. If you have to get up to grab a drink it’ll become apparent that you’re still wearing pyjama trousers!
- It can be tempting to have your preparation notes in front of you. If you do, have them face-down so you don’t constantly look at them- it’s really obvious that you’re reading.
- On the same note, don’t forget to make eye contact with your camera. If you have difficulty with this, put some googly eyes on either side to hold your attention.
- Virtual meetings always come with some talking over other people. Everyone expects it, don’t stress about it. Just stop talking, you’ll have an awkward moment where you both say after you, and can then laugh about it!
- Hanging up is always awkward, thank the interviewer/s then hang up, especially if multiple people are interviewing you- leave the line so they can discuss how great you were!
Interview Tips: How to Follow Up
- Breathe. It’s really hard to judge how an interview went, but if you feel like you had a good conversation, rather than an interrogation that’s a good thing.
- Follow up. This is why you wanted at least one email address earlier. Send a quick email to your interviewer(s), thank them for their time and reiterate you interest in the postition. Send this within a day of the interview; you may not get a response but it shows your interest and professionalism.
- Don’t repeat the follow-up! Hopefully, at the end of the interview, you got a rough timeframe to hear back in. Now comes the waiting game. Keep applying for more jobs and be patient. If it goes past the timeframe by several days, you could send a polite email but otherwise, you don’t want to pester your interviewer.
Interview Tips: In Conclusion…
Never forget that your interviewer is a real person. They’ve been where you are and know what it’s like, and most will act accordingly. Make sure you prepare, are professional and keep your answers honest. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the right answer, but attempt a response and let the interviewer know you’ll go away and look it up. How you approach a difficult question can be as important as having the correct answer; so take a breath, think it through and keep it positive.
I hope you’ve found these interview tips useful! Try to approach an interview as a chance to demonstrate your skills and knowledge, rather than an interrogation where people are looking to catch you out. If you make a good impression you may be considered for future opportunities, even if you aren’t selected for the role you’re interviewing for. Like your CV, an interview is another way to get your name out and build a reputation, even if you don’t land the job.
If you want more job hunting tips and advice, including CV ideas, check out my latest Pinterest board. Otherwise, I hope this was helpful and don’t forget to subscribe below to receive your FREE job hunting planner & tracker printable worksheets!