Interview Tips

Make an Excellent First Impression

Having a good CV will of course help you get those interviews, but the rest is up to you. Here are some useful tips (some you may not have thought of) to help you towards getting that job:


As soon as you find out that you have an interview with a company, the first thing you should do is go online to check out their website (if they have one). If they don't, then you can't really be asked or blamed for having no knowledge. You don't have to read through all the pages, but just enough to pick up a little information. You should be looking for a reason as to why you want to work for that employer.


If you are asked the question, “Do you know anything about our organisation?”, then you don't want your answer to be “No”. At the same time, you don't want to give them a whole big spiel (you'll bore them). You’ll really impress the interviewer if you can offer even just a little something to show that you have researched, and find some simple yet compelling reasons as to why you want to work for them.


Work out your route and leave plenty of time to get to the interview, even if you leave 30 minutes or an hour earlier than you should. You don't want to be panicking about not making it in time. The extra time will give you time to go somewhere else nearby, sit down and have a coffee, relax, compose yourself, go to the bathroom, etc, and arrive in good time for the interview.


If you're late (no matter what excuse you have), it is always noted. It creates a negative impression and it puts you behind immediately. I've also heard of people being told just to leave, without the chance of being interviewed. They figure that if you can't make it in time for the interview, then will you be able to make it into work on time?


Before you enter the building, turn your phone off completely. Do not be sitting texting, calling people or checking your Facebook page while you wait. If you're seen doing this, then it will be assumed that you can't do without your phone/FB for an hour, so how will you manage for 8 hours every day?


Also of course, there is the possibility that your phone will ring, bleep or vibrate during the interview process. Not only will this cause you stress during the interview, but it will also annoy the hell out of the interviewer.


One of the best ways to relax is to assume the interviewer is on your side. For some, it may even be their first time interviewing anyone and they're as nervous as you are. Good interviewers are not interested in tripping you up. In fact, most of them are on your side, or are at the very least they will be approaching the interview in a professional manner. It may even help to you to relax if you think of the interviewer as someone who wants you to do your best.


You will be doing yourself no favours if you try and suppress your personality, or pretend to be something that you aren’t.


While you think this may be the perfect job for you, it may be that it’s not. There are other jobs out there. There are many jobs that I never got, which I thought were perfect for me, but it's not until some time later that I was thankful I didn't, for various reasons. If you keep this in mind then you’ll remove some pressure from yourself that this is your only chance to perform.


If you think the interview is going badly, relax and tell yourself that you're not ever going to see this person again, so you can say what you want, and use it as practice for the next one. You never know, you could even recover if you take this approach.


Ensure you take the time to have a good read over the job description again. Think about the type of questions you may be asked in relation to the role and the skills required. Think of examples in the past where you have carried out similar tasks or had similar responsibilities. Refering to transferable skills, experience and responsibilities, is also totally acceptable.


Most organizations now use behavioural questions – which means they will be expecting you to provide specific examples of where you have demonstrated the skill they are seeking.


Again, think of the questions that you might be asked, write them down and do practice interviews with a friend or relation. I'm not suggesting you rote learn your lines. This is never a good idea because you cannot predict the questions you will be asked, and you may get stressed if you cannot remember a specific answer or you get asked something that you never thought of. But do practice. It will help you have a basic idea of how you expect to answer any of the obvious questions.


Sounds silly, but don't be too early either because this can also have a negative effect. Being a little early is good, but I would say the cut-off point is 15 minutes. Any earlier than this, and you're just annoying people. The interviewers are not expecting you and they're not ready for you.


I seen one girl recently turn up one hour early. She then sat in the waiting room, making conversation with staff (who were trying to work), and sat talking on her mobile. The decision had already been made before she stepped into the interview room. Which brings me to my next point ...


Smile and be friendly .. people like that!


Give everyone you meet a handshake (where required), and look them in the eye when you speak to them. This starts as soon as you enter the building, including the receptionist. Each interaction you have with your future employer feeds into the bigger picture of their impression of you. Use this knowledge. Be polite and friendly with whoever you meet in the process, from the very first phone call to the last 'goodbye' to the receptionist on your way out.


I have a friend who works as a receptionist and it is incredible the amount of prospective employees who are rude to her on the phone or in person. What they don't realise, is that she is also one of the company directors!


Most of us have probably been there, in a job that we hate. Your boss is an idiot, you don't get paid enough or you don't get along with other staff members, etc. DON'T mention it because they don't want to hear it and it will have a negative impact on your interview.  If this is the case for you and you get asked "Why do you wish to leave your current employer?" or "Why did you leave your last employer?", you lie. I don't recommend lying in interviews, but this is a 'white' lie. Turn it into something positive: "I'm looking to progress in my career", or "I feel that this position would be more suited to my experience and abilities". Being negative about your current/past employer or colleague(s) can never be a good thing. They don't know your story and will assume that it is a problem with you, so keep it all positive and upbeat.