If you are asking yourself, ‘what qualifies her to give job interview advice?’ The answer is simple; experience.
Since I was 15, I’ve never been out of work. I started out selling pies and bovril at the local football stadium, then moved around part time, temporary and summer contracts until I settled in nursing. I’ve now had over 20 jobs, and I’m on my 3rd career.
Preparation for a job interview is absolute key, and it’s probably why you’re reading this post. So here are my top tips for smashing that interview and getting your dream job. (Or the boring one that pays the bills)
If your application lacks detail, has poor grammar/spelling or just doesn’t sell your skills, then you won’t get to the interview stage at all. Check out my post on job applications if you need help improving this. Also, never ever lie, you will probably get caught out at interview.
An informal workplace visit isn’t always appropriate, though some job adverts will say whether visits are welcome. The best thing to do is ask. Making an informal visit to your new potential workplace, not only shows enthusiasm, but shows you are proactive and gets your face out there. Plus you get a trial run to see what traffic and parking is like prior to your interview.
The worst interview I’ve ever had, they held it against me that I didn’t attend an informal visit first. I was told I clearly didn’t prepare for the interview and obviously wasn’t proactive. I had actually done weeks of research and was extremely excited at the job prospect. In hindsight, sometimes people just aren’t good interviewers.
You must, must, must prepare for the interview.
- Read about the company – they will most likely ask you what you know about them. Do they have partnered companies? Have they recently won an award? Are they private or public sector?
- Read about the job again and remind yourself of the links to what you do now.
- Read your application again to remember what you wrote, and take a copy with you.
- Practice some interview questions and answers – out loud. If you panic and go blank on the day, these should be so well rehearsed, the answer should just come out.
- Check out where the interview is and plan to get there in plenty of time. Leaving enough time to look over your notes is helpful and reminds you of what you’ve studied.
Deciding on an interview outfit is just as important as your performance. Always opt for something smart and neutral. Unfortunately, certain tattoos and piercings might be held against you. If possible, cover them up. I understand it doesn’t affect you as a person, but trust me, some older generations don’t take them lightly.
- Plain trousers/skirt
- Smart dress
- Clean, smart shoes
- Excessive make-up/excessive jewellery
Dressing nicely looks respectful to yourself and the interviewer. It shows you take pride in your appearance, and take care of yourself.
When the time comes for the actual face to face interview, smile and shake everyones hand. In every social encounter, we form opinions of people straight away, this is no different. I have had excellent feedback in nearly all interviews I have attended. Therefore, if I didn’t get the job it was due to lacking a skill they needed, rather than not being the right ‘fit’ for the company.
Try to stay calm, the person interviewing you is possibly nervous too. I have interviewed several people, and it can be rather scary! They aren’t looking to trip you up or trick you. A good interviewer only wants to bring out the best in you, find out your skills and whether you would be a good fit in their team.
Be mindful of your body language, don’t cross your arms or avoid eye contact. Answer everything clearly and as detailed as possible. If you have rehearsed some questions, you will find the whole process much easier.
Things to Remember
- Relax. Rushing through because you’re nervous, won’t get you the job.
- Listen to the questions. If you didn’t understand, ask it to be repeated – or explained differently.
- There is no harm in asking for time to think of an answer. I have done this in plenty interviews. Especially if you are asked a scenario based question.
- Back up every answer you give with an example. By this I mean, relate it back to the job you do or have done in the past.
- Tell them what you know, not what you THINK they want to hear.
Always have a question to ask at the end. In every interview I’ve ever been to, they ask; ‘do you have any questions?’ If you have nothing to ask, prepare an answer such as; ‘I did, but I think you have covered everything I wanted to ask.’ It looks much better than shrugging your shoulders and saying; ‘no’. Shake everyone’s hand and thank them for taking the time to see you.
If you got the job, then congratulations! However, if you were unsuccessful then you should see this as an opportunity to improve. Contact the interviewer and ask for feedback. Interview feedback is an excellent way to improve on your skills and confidence. If you receive a phone call telling you that you were unsuccessful then ask straight away; what could I have done differently? How can I improve? Some unsuccessful letters are sent out by post, and most will have a name and number to contact for feedback. Please don’t be afraid to do this. It’s very common to phone for feedback and interviewers are used to people being in contact. You may even boost your confidence if you find out you interviewed well, but just didn’t have a skill they needed you to have.
If you’re reading this, then I hope you get the job. I know I have helped family with my tips, so maybe you will find some too! I would love to hear from anyone struggling with applications or interviews. Or if any of my blogs help you get a job then please let me know.
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