Most interviewers pass judgement of a candidate within the first two minutes of an interview so it is vital you make a positive first impression. Discover what you can about the company culture so you make a good “fit”. Your manner and dress are critical for success.
Before the interview
Be absolutely sure of the date, time and location of the job interview.
- If there is any chance of a misunderstanding, ask for it in writing. Ask for directions to the interview location. Check there is parking if you plan to drive.
- Research the company and the people who are interviewing you using the internet. Pay particular attention to recent news items so you can ask informed questions in the interview.
Make a good first impression
- Arrive 5 -10 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin.
- Visit the restroom before checking in with reception to check your appearance.
- Turn off your mobile phone as soon as you arrive.
- Introduce yourself in a professional way with a firm handshake and good eye contact. Be courteous to everyone you come in contact with. (Speaking condescendingly to the receptionist will only call into question your leadership and team skills).
- Dress professionally in a way that fits with the company culture. You can call HR or the main office number before the interview to ascertain the dress code. It is always better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed for an interview so, if unsure, a classic suit is a safe bet.
- Be well-groomed with clean teeth and fresh breath, combed hair, clean fingernails, moderate make-up for women and freshly shaven for men.Keep perfume or after-shave to a minimum.
- Do not smoke before the interview.
- Wear clean and polished shoes.
The interview itself
- Carry a folder with paper and a pen to note down anything of importance (but don’t take extensive notes, it’s distracting for the interviewer).
- Bring two extra copies of your CV with you; one for your own reference and an extra, just in case.
- Bring samples of your previous work (if appropriate) but show them only on request.
- Have the name, address and telephone number of your references ready should the interviewer request this information.
- Write a list of questions you want answered. (This shows you are prepared!)
Be aware of your non-verbal behaviours
- Sit straight.
- Smile as often as you can.
- Maintain eye contact but don't stare.
- Lean forward but don’t invade the interviewer's space.
- Avoid fidgeting and slouching.
Give clear and concise answers to all questions asked
- Don’t turn the interview into a conversation although it’s fine to make comments and ask brief questions. (This way the interviewer does not feel like their simply firing questions at you.)
- Treat the interview as you would a first date. Don't second guess them and become the person you think they are looking for. This will only lead to a bad ‘fit’. Be yourself and use the interview to allow the interviewer to get to know you and assess whether the job and/or company is right for you.
- Keep all answers to a maximum of 2 minutes. Any longer and you will lose the interviewer’s interest.
- If you do not fully understand a question, ask for clarification.
Ask questions to show your interest in the role and organisation
- Ask any questions that have arisen from the interview.
- Ask questions prepared from your research (unless the answer has become clear during the interview).
- Ask about the next steps in the interview process.
- Never ask about salary in the first interview.
Closing the interview
- Thank the interviewer for his/her time.
- Express your interest in pursuing the role further.
- Offer a firm handshake and make a graceful exit.
Interviewing with Recruitment Agencies
The above advice holds for interviews with recruitment agencies with a few specific exceptions.
- Be prepared to disclose your current salary/package information to the recruitment consultant. They cannot represent you without knowing your minimum expectation.
- Be completely honest about what you are looking for in regards to salary, location, title, responsibilities etc.
- Remember, even if you are applying for a specific job, the recruiter may also be appraising you for other positions, so don’t position yourself too tightly to the one role on offer. Be yourself and show your best qualities.
- If your recruitment consultant arranges for you to meet with a company, contact your recruitment consultant after the meeting and offer them feedback. This will help in the subsequent steps leading up to a job offer.