Almost everyone gets nervous before interviews. If you find that you do get particularly nervous, (tell-tale signs are sweaty hands, "butterflies" in your stomach and going to the toilet constantly) then you may wish to take a look at the tips provided by our members on how to cope when you're inside the interview room.
Preparation for the interview is incredibly important. If you do your proper background checks it can reassure you and give you confidence, and it can also do you great favours if the interviewer asks you any questions regarding the company in question and the work they do.
In preparation, a number of things can be done:
- Research the company. Thorough research ensures you know exactly what the company is, what they do, their ethos, and their history.
- Think and write down any and all skills or experience that might be relevant to the job. Remember, the more you list, the better you will look.
- Make sure everything you need is prepared the night before. Make sure your clothes are neatly pressed and ironed and that they are smart. Make sure you have any documentation if you are required to take any along.
- Think of questions to ask them. This is important as well. At the end of the interview they may ask if you have any questions. If you ask at least one question, it will show that you have prepared and that you have researched the company. It also shows that you are keen and interested in the job and the company.
Before you go into the Interview Room
It's important to try to stay calm. This is obviously harder than it sounds, because your subconscious is likely to be running wild whilst on the surface you look roughly composed. Make sure you're hydrated by drinking some water in advance. Keep some water with you, at least until you enter the room too, as this should prevent you suffering from "dry mouth" syndrome. Make sure you've had something to eat - not too long before, this will ensure your stomach doesn't rumble too loudly, but shouldn't interfere with your digestion should you suffer from the nauseating effects of the butterflies.
- It's very important that when you go into an interview you make a good impression. This means dressing smartly, even if the interview you were invited to was scheduled as 'casual'. This means no jeans or trainers, guys and gals. Guys - you won't necessarily need to go all out with a suit unless it's a big company with an excellent tradition, but certainly a trousers/shirt/tie or trousers/shirt/jacket combination is essential. Girls - my advice probaly won't be very good not being one myself - but similar rules I would assume apply with regards to trousers/blouse/jacket combinations. Keep your hair tidy, and guys remember to be clean shaven. Don't wear too much makeup, jewellery, accessories etc, and don't use too much aftershave/perfume.
- Smile when you're first addressed, and when you walk into the room, ensure your posture is upright. Slouching leaves a very bad first impression (take it from me!) If you're offered a hand or two to shake, accept the invitation and shake firmly, this is a sign of confidence and composure. Ensure you make eye contact, especially at the start, but try to maintain this throughout, as it will make you look focused and engaged.
- Do not sit down until you are asked to do so; it may not seem like a big thing, but it could be seen as insolent behaviour. Try to take the lead from the interviewer(s) too: if their tone and posture is relaxed then see this as a sign to be relaxed also; if they are very upright and formal with their speech, try to adopt the same manner. Don't lean on your elbows during the interview either, and don't fiddle with your fingers, even if this is a nervous habit. If you find you normally fidget, try putting your hands together with your fingers interlocked as if you're praying and rest them on the desk in front of you - the fact that they are visible should encourage you to look over them into your interviewer's face and not fiddle.
- Remember your manners at all times. Pleases and thank yous are duly noted and are likely to be reciprocated, even if that means a consolation phone call if unsuccessful that you wouldn't have otherwise received. Accept a glass of water, or tea/coffee if offered, and if they are also going to have one. Do not accept or request fizzy drinks or food.
- Listen carefully to what you're being asked. Don't interrupt, but do ask them to clarify what they are asking if you don't understand the question straight away. Show interest in the interview by maintaining eye contact, and nodding or smiling where appropriate. If you find you cannot answer a question, don't be afraid to say "I'm afraid I cannot answer that" - don't spend half of the interview time trying to think of an answer or sputtering a half decent one out. Showing that you are willing to admit straight away to not knowing something is definitely preferable to someone who tries to cover things up.
- Concentrate on what you're talking about: talk slowly and clearly; stop to think about your answers if an example or answer doesn't come straight to your mind - they will prefer this as it will seem like you're taking it seriously. Avoid waffling out an answer at all costs; definitely don't "um" and "err". Try not to talk for too long; be precise, and end your answers with a clear conclusion to lead you into being asked the next question.
- Answer questions honestly, and frankly, but be careful not to criticise current or former employers - your interviewers may think you'll do this to them. Try not to reveal any confidential information about other people either, as this makes you look untrustworthy. If you can, try to promote your existing skills and abilities through the answers you give. Your interviewers will look kindly upon attributes such as enthusiasm, determination and a willingness to learn and get involved. Attempt to use positive words, such as saying "I enjoy..." rather than "I like..." and speak positively about the opportunity to accept this role. For example, "I anticipate the challenges this job would provide", rather than "If I get the job I think I could cope with the challenges..."
Click here to see What questions you might be asked?
The End of the Interview
- When they have asked you everything they will want to, they are likely to ask you if you have any questions. Make sure you do take this opportunity - it may well be your only chance and it'll give you an insight that you may wish you had received if you are offered a job and then don't enjoy the circumstances. An interview is about finding the best fit for both of you, and its important to remember that you are looking for a job that suits you, as much as whether it suits them.
- Ensure you ask relevant questions, there's nothing worse than irrelevance. Don't ask them about the weather, or their niece's wedding. As questions about the future plans for the company, staff training and development. This would demonstrate an interest in the company that will look favourably upon you and a willingness to get involved. Additionally, if you have researched the company in advance, you can prove your knowledge of the company - which could make you a better candidate than others - and mean your questions are more interesting to the interviewers - leaving them with a better impression of you.
- Inquire as to who you would be working with when you first start, and how your development will be managed in the early stages of your career. This will show a willingness to learn as well as showing that you're taking an interest in their methods of training.
- Don't spurt out questions about your potential salary, especially if this is a first round interview: if there will be another round or more, save this question for later. If it is a last round interview, then save this question for the end, and phrase it appropriately - i.e. "What would the salary be like for this position?" not "So, how much will I earn?" (You can just imagine the second question being followed by a "mate", just don't.)
- Find out if this company is a suitable place for you. Don't settle for the first offer that comes your way. Just turning the tables in a respectful and inquisitive way will help to relax you and build up your confidence. I bombed so many interviews before I hit my stride and began to nail them. I hope this helps you with your interviews and I hope you find the job that truly fits what you want to do after college!
- Once you have finished interviewing them, make sure you thank them for giving you the interview, and remember your posture, smile, handshake and manners as you leave.
Click here to see What questions you could ask?
Remember that many people apply for the same job and some don't even get through to the interview stage, so don't be too disappointed if you're not successful. It is, after all, going to be a vital experience in helping you prepare for future interviews, and you never know, if you make a good enough impression they may keep your details on file and contact you in the future if a smiliar suitable role comes up.
Read all the Interview Articles
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- Preparing for an Interview
- Types of interview and how to prepare
- Interview Questions and Answers