Published: 15 May 2018
It’s funny how we spend all of our time as recruiters coaching our candidates how to put their best foot forward at interview, however when it comes to us “apparent” interviewee experts actually going to interview ourselves, it can still be a truly nerve-racking experience.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled 10 foolproof tips that will take us all back to basics and allow us to brush off the interview cobwebs and will provide a refresher and will make you a winning candidate in any interview situation.
1. Research the person who is interviewing you
Most people will suggest that you research the company but that is pretty well a no-brainer if you’ve made it this far in the process. What can be more beneficial to you at this stage of your application is to know your audience aka your interviewer. LinkedIn, Google Images, Twitter, even Facebook can all lead you to hints on both personal and professional preferences that can set you up for success. Look for a common interest or contact and subtly mention it in your interview to create a rapport and connection that is guaranteed to set you aside from the competition.
2. Lay out your outfit the night before - including shoes!
The more prepared you are on the day of your interview, the more relaxed you will be and therefore the more confident you will appear! Be sure to dress appropriately for the work environment - don’t wear a suit to a start-up and don’t wear ripped jeans to well, anywhere you hope to find employment. Make sure your outfit is above all, clean but also comfortable. If you think an outfit looks great but the wool is making you itch or you’re constantly shifting your focus down to make sure that pesky button hasn’t come undone, it will be noticed. Go with something that you have worn before or that you feel super confident in. Don’t forget to consider appropriate footwear for the weather, you can always take a pair of different shoes to change into, if you don’t fancy trecking far in high heels.
3. Review your CV and prepare your financial billing successes as well as intelligent answers for the red flags
Above all else on your CV make sure that you have accurate statistics about your billings. If you are a TC, make sure you understand the GP and revenues that you have generated as well as the profit margins and bill rates. If you are a perms recruiter, then make sure you have the last few years GP to talk about, and if there is growth, hallelujah! If there is not, make sure you are able to talk about the reason behind static numbers or any drops. Have confidence in how you talk about your billings.
That thing you’re hoping they won’t ask you about? Prepare to answer it. There is nothing worse than wishful thinking when it comes to interviewing. Pull out your inner Publicist and find a way to highlight something that might seem unflattering on paper, in a positive way. Hopping from job to job? Word of mouth gets around quickly and you’ve been referred to so many great places to work, it’s hard to keep track! Gap on the CV? You took time to travel / be a more present parent / pursue a new business idea / do further education, etc. The possibilities are endless when you reframe a situation in a positive light, just whatever you do - don’t lie.
4. Put your non-verbal communication under review
Spend a considerable amount of time before your interview monitoring your body language. Are you slumped over your newspaper on the tube or at your desk? Sit up straight! Practice making eye contact with people in conversation even if it’s uncomfortable, it shows sincerity and emulates connection. A study was done by Researchers at Cornell University who manipulated the cartoon rabbit logo on many Trix cereal boxes- the majority of adults chose the cereal box where the rabbit was looking directly at them versus the rabbit that looked to the side. Eye contact will engage your interviewer, who you can bet has had a number of hum drum conversations before you.
5. Ditch the perfume / cigarettes / coffee / gum altogether
Smells are personal but I’ve yet to meet someone who was impressed by a candidate that came in smelling like a poet. Coffee and/or cigarettes are two of the most repulsive second hand smells there are. Masking it with an overbearing amount of perfume is a first class ticket to nausea central. If you are nervous before your interview, opt for a tea or lemon water and pick a mint over gum so you’re not chomping nervously while you wait.
6. Time out your route
This is a key to-do the night or even the week before. Make sure you adjust the settings on Google maps so it reflects the actual time you will be commuting to your interview, this is especially important with public transportation. Pick a route that you are most familiar with and if you are unfamiliar, test it on a separate day. This will help you to know what to expect the day of your interview and alleviate unnecessary delays or stress.
7. Read the job description thoroughly (if there is one!) pick it apart and prepare questions
If you’re anything like me, you’ve gotten used to skimming as an acceptable form of reading things online. It has become almost second nature to the point where sometimes I find myself re-reading the same paragraph four times. Do yourself a favour and go through the job description with a fine tooth comb and if you spot a red flag, mention it. Most interviewers will appreciate your attention to detail, direct communication, and ability to clarify your expectations.
What if there isn’t a job description? Well don’t panic, it’s most common actually these days for there not to be a job description in our world as we all know what we do. However it’s good practice to ask for one up front but go with the flow if whomever your asking, just smiles and says, “well not really, but….”
8. Eat something
Even grabbing a simple piece of toast is better than going into an interview with a gurgly belly. It can be really distracting, not to mention embarrassing! Something light, like a handful of almonds or a banana can also help stave off the belly monster. If you’re meeting over lunch, make sure you order something that you are comfortable eating while engaging in conversation. If you are distracted by your food, it can be hard to stay engaged in the conversation and make that eye contact we talked about earlier. Hold the garlic please!
We’ve all heard it before (and probably rolled our eyes a bit); the well meaning advice of an acquaintance or colleague ‘smile and you’ll start to feel better.’ In fact, it’s scientifically proven that stimulating the smile muscles with botox can send signals to the brain, manipulating our brain’s circuitry of emotion and activating feelings of happiness! Having a positive attitude shows confidence that things are going your way and it is definitely something that stands out as far as candidates go. Since smiles are known to be contagious, if you walk in dawning a big bright smile, you can bet that you have left that interview room better than you found it. People remember the feelings they have about you and if you’ve left a smile on their face, it bodes well for your future on their team and that is definitely something to smile about.
10. Write a handwritten thank you note
A dying art, the handwritten thank you note is thoughtful and classy. Handwritten being the operative word here. People don’t often enjoy the act of opening more e-mails but boy do they ever enjoy opening a lovely little envelope addressed to them! Keep it short and sweet, and if appropriate call back to a positive point of conversation that you had or something that you learned from them. Most of all, be genuinely thankful that this person took the time to consider your application, as we know, hiring is an exhaustive process which is often piled on top of an existing workload. A little gratitude can go a long way.
Let’s hope after all this preparation you really nail the first interview, and you’ll be asked back for a second shortly after. Second interviews can be just as daunting if not more so as first interviews, so actually it would be good practise to go back to point 1, and review how well you covered each of these points. Think about how you can answer any questions you stumbled on better or provide clearer information for the second time around.
Don’t be blasé, you haven’t got that offer yet, and let’s face it, that’s the goal so that you have a decision to make and a strong negotiation basis.
Good luck !!!