Saturday, March 10

Top Tips For A Job Interview

I've had a fair few jobs since I left college. I've tried everything including Customer Service, Marketing Manager, Social Media Manager, Administrator, Retail roles and even swinging through the trees as an Activity Instructor. Every interview I've ever had has been different, but I always try and prepare in the same way. Here are my best bits of advice if you've got a job interview coming up.




Do Your Research
You've got an interview, yipeee! Preparing for it can be a challenge, as you never know what you're going to be asked.  (Unless of course you've been asked to specifically prepare something!). I always take 15-20 minutes the day before, to go through the company website and social media pages to learn the basics of the business. It's so impressive when you're one step ahead if anything comes up in the interview. Sure, they don't expect you to know when the company started trading or how many offices they have, but simple bits of information like their main goals and objectives, could give you a bit of leverage, and help build your confidence too. I like following the company on their social accounts if they have them, you'll be surprised how much you can learn from their tweets and Facebook posts. I once saw a company I was interviewing with recently won a big award, so I congratulated them at the beginning of my interview, and it was a nice bit of conversation starter, whilst showing genuine interest from me (without arse licking!).

Know your CV
It's quite likely that you'll have your CV picked apart, or certain elements highlighted, so make sure you know it back to front. I had a great little motivational quote in the bottom of mine and was once asked "why is this your favourite quote?" and I froze...couldn't remember it for the life of me. Awkward. It could have been worse, but I'll always remember that moment. Know your grades, previous roles and the skills you've listed. You might get asked about them, and you'll want to confidently be able to talk about them.

Plan your outfit
It's important that you feel and look right for your interview, so dress accordingly. For office roles, I always liked 'business smart', so a skirt/dress, tights, blouse and flat shoes. Heels were a big no incase I fell over, but that's just my preference. When I was interviewing for the job outdoors, I didn't have a clue what to wear, so I asked the interviewer if they didn't mind me checking the dress code. Turns out all black and trainers was absolutely fine. For other interviews, social/creative/media based, I've gone more 'smart casual'. Dark jeans and a nice top, with heeled boots. I never wear anything showing too much cleavage, and like to wear what I feel my best in. I don't try a new style if it's not 'me'. My best advice is to plan your outfit at least a day or two before, in case you need to pop to the shops and get anything appropriate. Leave it out the night before, so you're ready to pop it on and avoid faffing and stressing yourself out prior.
Plan your travel
Sometimes, it's quite a challenge to navigate to the venue. I've gone as far as driving there a few days before, just so I was confident I knew exactly where it was however most of the time, a quick bit of Google maps and street view has been a real game changer. I normally drive, so it's important I ask if there's any parking, or the best place to park nearby. If you're taking public transport, check your routes and make sure you're confident in which bus, tube or train you need.

Get a good night's sleep
There is absolutely no point staying up and worrying about your interview. You'll be a mess if you're tired, and you certainly don't want to be yawning half way through. Get plenty of sleep, set your alarm and avoid alcohol or too much caffeine. Breatheeeeee.

Allocate plenty of time
I hate being late, and there really is nothing like a bad first impression if you turn up late for an interview. I normally like to arrive half an hour before my interview starts, and sometimes just sit in my car until I'm ready to go in (normally around 5 minutes before).

Check your phone is on silent
We all have our phones, and it's not always possible to leave them behind, so just double DOUBLE check it's on silent, or turned off completely. It's a real rookie error, and so embarrassing, if your ringtone is going off in your bag. Big no.

If you're offered water, take it
Something I've learnt from experience, is that you're normally offered a drink. Always accept a glass of water, because if you're in there a long time and you're a bit nervous, your voice and throat can get a bit dry, and a glass of water is so appreciated. Plus, if you're listening to the interviewer, and you're not sure what to do with your body/hands or where to look (constant eye contact is always a bit awkward), I like taking a glass of water to help calm my nerves. Water = a big yes.

Don't talk over the top of someone
I am a hugeeee chatterbox, and I will waffle on until the cows come home, so I try and recognise this when I'm in an interview. The biggest thing I avoid, is talking over the top of the interviewer. Listening is a key skill for any role, so show that you're interested in what they're telling you, and don't but in.


Be proud of your achievements
Even if you've listed them on your CV, don't be afraid to shout about your achievements! (Not literally shout, but you know what I mean). Even if you've recently raised money for charity, or you worked on a big project you completed at your current job, then share it and be proud. You're there because you'd love the job, so show the interviewers that.

Avoid asking questions on the salary etc
I've never really known the right etiquette with asking about hours, salary, holiday allowance etc (unless they choose to tell you and you discuss it), but I normally find it's best to avoid these things, as it can make you seem like that's what you're interested in more, rather than the job itself. If you get the offered the role, all these questions will be answerd, or you can ask them via an email later on.

Any questions?
You might be asked if you have any questions towards the end of the interview, and for this one (unless it's already been answered), I like to throw in a question surrounding the role to show my enthusiasm. For example "how many people are currently in the team?" or "are you working on any big projects at the moment?". Other times simply a "No, I don't think so, you've covered everything I think, thank you!" works just fine. Give them a handshake, thank them for their time, and don't forget to smile, it goes a long way.

Email after
I always like to drop an email (sometimes a few hours to around a day later) to the original person who invited me, just to say thank you. A really simple "Hello, just a quick email to say thank you to XXX for their time yesterday. I look forward to hopefully hearing from you soon" - this helps keep the communication flowing and again, a thank you is always nice.

Ask for feedback
Now it's a waiting game. Sometimes they'll tell you "expect to hear back from us by Friday" and therefore I'll just wait however, I normally give it around week if I haven't heard anything, before dropping another email to ask for an update. If you haven't got the job, don't be disheartened, and ask for feedback. You're completely in your right to ask why you didn't make it, and sometimes they'll be vague and say "another candidate had more experience" but sometimes, they might give you more specific advice which could be extremely valuable in a future interview or role.

I hope that's been fairly helpful to at least one of you out there, and I wish you all the best of luck!
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