Successful interviews usually happen when the interviewer and interviewee are on the same page. It shouldn’t be forgotten that they are a two way process for the interviewer to decide that you are right for the role & organisation and for you to decide the role & organisation is right for you. The dynamic between the 2 parties shifts during the interview process partly depending on the circumstances that have led the interview to happen in the first place. The guidance below should be regarded as generic advice for a 1st interview where the balance tends to be with the interviewer and should be considered alongside the specific advice from your consultant.
Before the interview
Fail to prepare – Prepare to fail! A cliché but like so many, it’s true.
- Plan your route to arrive at least 15 - 30 minutes early.
- Research the organisation. Aside from the fact that you’ll come across as disinterested if you don’t know about the organisation you wish to work at, finding out some details and current issues will give you an easy topic to discuss during the interview.
- Prepare for classic interview questions (see our separate article on this)
- Review the job description for specific questions likely for the role
- Brush up on technical skills, especially textbook knowledge, if they are a key requirement for the role
- Dress smartly. Unless it is specifically stated not to wear suit and tie, wear the best you have and make sure shoes are gleaming. Appearances shouldn't matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you've even uttered a word.
- Bring something to write occasional notes as well as the names of the interviewers on it. Take in any pre-prepared role specific questions written down on this
- If you are a smoker don’t smoke immediately before the interview
Starting the interview
- Turn your phone off as soon as you arrive in the building
- Handshake – this is important! – Not limp and not bone crushing. If you are nervous and have sweaty palms try to discreetly wipe them first
- Building rapport fairly swiftly is important, however, starting an interview in an overly familiar way can be perceived as inappropriate behaviour. If you get the opportunity ask open-ended questions in order to encourage conversation.
During the interview
The basic aim of building rapport in your interview is to increase the impression that you think along the same lines as your interviewer, showing them that you share a similar professional outlook and way of working. Some common sense do’s and don’ts:
- Listen to questions carefully and answer truthfully and succinctly
- Keep regular eye contact and open body language
- Show knowledge and enthusiasm for the role and the company
- Talk about politics or religion; it may cause awkwardness or even offence. Ideally keep to topics that are related to the industry, organisation and role.
- Say negative comments about current or former employers or colleagues
- Use slang or profanities, even if these are used by the interviewer.
- Bring up personal issues or family problems
After the interview
Follow up with a thank you email, either directly to the interviewer or via your recruiter if you used an agency to secure the interview. This is a way of continuing the dialogue and shows that you are keen and enjoyed the meeting.