Top Tips For A Successful Job Interview
Congratulations, you have nailed your CV and cover letter which has resulted in a job interview! Now the real work begins. Here you will find all the necessary information to bag that next job. Maybe you’re sitting there with no CV or Cover Letter? No worries, we have you covered. Grab a coffee and check out our CV and cover letter guides for all the helpful advice you need!
Types Of Interviews
Knowing what types of interviews there are can influence your preparation and mentality. For the first stage, many recruiters favour a telephone interview over a face-to-face one. Whether it is for a part-time, internship or graduate job position, below are some of the interviews you may face. We discuss in detail what kind of interviews you may face, how to prepare for them, and what to expect.
Typically the first stage in an interview, a telephone interview allows the employer to find out more about you and why you applied for the role. The employer may ask some competency questions to understand if you are suitable for the position. These questions are for the recruiter to figure out if it is worth inviting you in for a face-to-face interview. You may be asked about salary expectations, what your experiences are, and if you’re suited to the company.
How To Prepare For A Telephone Interview?
- Choose a quiet area with no background noise or distractions.
- Living in a student house? Kindly remind your flatmates not to come storming in with 50 Jägerbombs. You can celebrate after the phone call.
- Are housemates non-negotiable? Head over to your local college or university and book a private room.
- The interviewer can hear your voice, but cannot see your notes. Use this to your advantage and prepare some handy cheat sheets to help with those difficult questions.
- Dress smart. Give yourself the mentality that you are going to a face-to-face interview.
This may take place on Skype or Hangout and is becoming a popular method of interviewing candidates. Why? Well, many companies are nationwide or even international, therefore a convenient way to interview someone without unnecessary travel expenses. A video interview is also another form of telephone interview – and this needs just as much preparation.
How To Prepare For A Video Interview?
- Make sure you have a working webcam with a decent wifi connection! Otherwise, the interview will not go far.
- Tidy room? Hey – we’re not judging here, but keep it tidy and make sure all suggestive looking items are not in the frame!
- Sufficient lighting – the interviewer would like to put a face to a name, so make sure you are in a well-lit area.
- Dress to impress! Remember the top half of you can still be seen, therefore choose something presentable and smart (you can still keep your slippers on).
- Practice with a friend.
Face-to-face interviews are highly common, so whether it is a part-time job or graduate position, you will most likely have one! A face-to-face interview is probably the most nerve-racking one. Make sure you are well prepared and have done your homework. Research the job description and the company you are applying for. You should also consider writing down all your answers to questions you may be asked, and try to remember them. Think of this like study notes for your big final exam at uni.
How To Prepare For A Face-To-Face Interview?
- Practice that handshake! A firm handshake displays confidence and professionalism.
- Consider body language – do not slouch in the chair (regardless of how comfortable it is).
- Arrive on time! 10-15 minutes before is a safe bet. Check on Google Maps and plan your journey (especially if you are taking public transport).
Group interviews involve the interviewer asking group questions, as well as individual ones. If you are applying for placements and graduate positions you may be invited to an assessment day, which follows a similar format. We also have a nice article on how to be assessment-day-ready. In the meantime, why don’t you grab another coffee and enjoy the read?
How to prepare for a group interview?
- Have your self-introduction ready! First impressions count, so make sure it is a good one.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. Yes, everyone is competitive; but the interviewers will be looking at those who are keen team players.
- Listen carefully – it can be distracting having to share your interview with others, but keep your eye on the prize!
- Relax and enjoy it! Remember, everyone is in the same boat as you, so take a deep breath before you walk in and smash it.
How To Prepare For An Interview?
It’s a no brainer – preparing for an interview is key for ensuring success. To have nerves before an interview is common; it shows you care! However, dispel some of these worries by checking the interview preparation checklist below.
- Examine the job description
- Research the role
- Research the company
- Prepare answers to the most common questions
- Know what you are going to wear
- Practice that posture
- Transport (if necessary)
- Questions to ask the interviewer
- Practice with a friend or family
Examine the job description
There’s nothing worse than going into a job interview thinking it is for something else. This is why researching the job description is crucial! When looking through the job description, look at these key points:
- Required skills & qualifications
- Main duties and responsibilities
- specified work experience (if necessary)
Carefully align their requirements with your interview answers to showcase you are the ideal candidate for the job!
Research the role
You might be thinking ‘hey, isn’t this the same as researching the job description?’ it’s not. Use external and reliable sources to examine the role. Sometimes companies can be ambiguous and will vaguely identify the extent of the duties involved.
Research the company
Researching a company before an interview is paramount – this not only expresses your passion to work for the company, but you can relate your answers to the company’s desire.
Consider these points too:
- Look at the company’s mission statement! This will give an overview of what they do.
- Know and understand the company’s values and culture. Integrate these into your answers!
- Look through their website and social media accounts to understand their industry.
Research Interview Questions And Answers
We go into more detail about common interview questions and answers in more detail below, but use this a quick overview of what to expect. Write down your answers using the STAR technique. Wondering what on earth the STAR method is? Well, it’s an abbreviated term for:
- Situation – (set the scene)
- Task – (explain the task)
- Action – (what you did)
- Result – (the outcome)
The above method is used countlessly in interviews and is a way to keep your answers cohesive, structured and well presented.
Prepare Your Interview Outfit!
Prepare your interview outfit a couple of days in advance. Make sure your clothes are well ironed and clean (including shoes). If you are wondering what the hell do I wear to an interview? Don’t fret! We go into more detail on what to wear to an interview soon. However, a general rule should be smart casual dress; of course, this does depend on the type of work environment. But think of it like this, its best to be overdressed rather than underdressed.
Practice Your Posture And Handshake
Body language speaks louder than words. Do not slouch; sit up straight and lean slightly forward to show you are engaged. Also, make sure you have clean teeth and minty breath. One good technique is to mirror the body language of the person conducting the interview.
Are you driving? Cycling? Or are you taking the train? Figure this out before the day. Being late and stressed can easily be avoidable. It’s a good idea to find the place of the interview a little bit earlier, in case you get a little lost. However, don’t appear for the interview super early; 10 minutes before the meeting is reasonable. If for some reason you’re running late to an interview, you should call them and explain that you’re running late and when you expect to be there. Of course, you should apologise. A reasonable company would understand if the train breaks down or there is an unusual amount of traffic.
Questions To Ask The Interviewer
At the end of every interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Whatever you do, don’t say no! This shows your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the role. You should ask questions like, “what do you like about working here?” and, “what are the day to day tasks for this job role?”
Practice With A Friend Or Family
You have checked through most of the checklist and now it is time to practice. Yes, it is a little hard to take it seriously, especially if it is with your best friend. However, you should practise. If you can’t with your friends – ask an older sibling or a parent. Hey, you could even ask a trusted tutor!
What To Wear To An Interview?
In this section, we will go over some pointers and advisable suggestions to help make you look fit for the job. Whether that is examples of interview outfits, attire for men and women or some golden pointers, you are in the right place.
What is business casual?
Despite the ‘casual’ part, choosing a business casual outfit can seem impossible. There is always the fear you are going too casual, or end up being too overdressed. The emergence of Silicon Valley saw the likes of Mark Zuckerburg introducing the hoodie into everyday working life. Now online companies and startups are adopting the smart casual attire.
When Are You Expected To Wear Business Casual?
- Online companies
- Entry-level jobs
Comfortable, affordable and simple are just a few of the reasons why workers favour this, but this all changes when you need to decide a business casual interview outfit.
Business Casual Interview Outfits
These are good outfit choices for most companies, including the more traditional ones! If you feel like the work culture is a little more formal, simply swap the shoes for something smarter. Who knew picking an outfit could be so easy?!
What Is Formal Attire?
Seen as the traditional way of dressing for an interview, the formal attire is a hard one to master, especially on a student’s budget! However, you can dress without breaking the bank. Praise the lord for Primark!
When Are You Expected To Wear Formal Attire?
- High skilled roles
- Finance, banking and pharmaceutical industries
- Managerial roles
- Placements and graduate positions
Formal Interview Outfits
Dress to impress. If you feel tied down with the lack of colour, don’t be afraid! A vibrant blazer or shirt normally goes down a treat.
Job Interview Questions And Answers Sample
Interviews can be unpredictable. But we like to make things easy for you. Check out the most commonly asked questions along with their answers below!
Tell Me About Yourself
You either say too much or too little. Luckily enough, they do not care about your first school crush or your favourite alcoholic beverage. Instead, tell them things that will emphasise your personality and capability for the job. This is an opportunity to use the ‘elevator pitch’ to sell yourself in 30 seconds to one minute. In this race against time, how do you answer “tell me about yourself?”, without rambling on like you are in the elevator going to the 300th floor?
Answer the questions in two sections
- How are you suited for the role? Spend around 15 seconds summing up any relevant education background, work experience, or your passions to express how you are suited for the role.
- Why do you want to apply for the role? Maybe this is your first job and now you want to utilise the skills acquired in school and apply it to a work setting.
For three years I have worked as a Sales Assistant for Company X. During this time I have gained commercial awareness and the processes behind a typical trading day. This encouraged me to go to University and study business management. Now I have graduated with a first classification I am looking to utilise the skills learnt from my education and placement year as a product manager in a retail setting. The role interests me because my passion for fashion has been a big part of my life for many years now and want to use this in a professional setting. I also enjoy working in a collaborative space and I understand that your company recently won Best Place to Work 2018, which is highly important to me.
Why Do You Want To Work For Us?
First of all, revise the job description and your CV like it is your final exam, highlighting any sections that are a point of interest. Afterwards, acquire good research of the company and industry. Brainstorm 3-5 bullet points that show your passion to work for the company but also connect it to your personal development too.
Remember These Three Points
1. Your answer should last 1-2 minutes long
You may think those 2 minutes will drag to the end of eternity, but with the right preparation, it will fly by.
2. Structure and practice
First highlight why the job interests you, then combine it with the information taken from your CV and background to combine a cohesive answer.
3. Show your enthusiasm
Show your energy and determination for the role, even if it is for an entry-level position. The recruiter or employer will want to see that they’re investing their time in someone who cares.
For me, I have always enjoyed working in a collaborative space and Company X is no different. The innovative changes such as [insert example] have disrupted the industry which to me is inspiring. I would also like the opportunity to develop my career in the technological industry and utilise the knowledge I have acquired from my time at university.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
The one that everyone dreads. It is tempting to blurt the words ‘my greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist’. But let’s be real, the interviewer wants an authentic answer, not one which has been drafted by an unreliable source on Google.
Be honest. You may think owning up to weaknesses will leave you vulnerable to the interviewer, but you could not be more wrong. Interviewers are human too (hard to believe), but they too have weaknesses. Who knows, maybe you will come to learn their weak points!
Show how you changed your weakness into a positive. Highlight to the interviewer that you became self-aware of your weakness and went on the journey to self-improvement, subsequently resulting in a positive outcome.
During my time at University, I had difficulty in presentations. I would be swamped with fear and resulted in me receiving poor grades. In my second year, I decided to act on and this and attended workshop classes in how to present professionally. Although this was challenging, I became more confident and I achieved a 2:1 in my presentation.
Competency Based Interview Questions
Wondering what competency questions are? A handful of these questions are asked during an interview and will provide an insight into how you can utilise your skills in a work environment. This is the chance to show the interviewer how you deal with real-life scenarios and your ability to utilise your skills to overcome challenges, conflict or to generate results.
What Skills Do They Require?
Look through the job description and highlight any competencies they have listed. Below are a few examples.
- Decision making
- Customer service
- Use the STAR method – situation, task, action, result.
‘Tell me about a time you worked or led a team?’
I was working as a Sales Assistant for a large shoe retailer when one weekend we had our busiest trading day and were understaffed. The Manager was unavailable on the shop floor so delegated responsibilities onto me. Acting calm and collected I spoke with the remaining team members and advised to work in specific areas to make sure everything was covered and customers were able to be served. Whenever I had a free moment I would also help with colleagues to ensure everyone remained calm and positive. The result of using communication and effective teamwork meant we were able to reach our targets and delivering excellent levels of customer service.
Questions To Ask In An Interview
As the interview draws to a close, it transitions into a two-way street where you have the opportunity to ask questions to the hiring manager. A common response to this is: ‘I have no questions, they were all answered just now.’ Avoid this like the plague! To show off your inquisitive nature, below are examples of questions to ask in an interview.
Examples Of Questions To Ask In An Interview
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
- How do you enjoy working here?
- Can you describe the culture of the company?
- What does the future look like for the organisation?
- Is there room for a profession?
- How much training is involved?
- What do you like best about the company?
- What will happen now?
Why Should You Ask Questions In An Interview?
There are many valuable reasons why you should ask questions in an interview. Still not convinced? Read on…
1. Shows you’re interested
If you were uninterested then your initial reaction would be to get out of that rook as quickly as you can. Instead the easiest way to show genuine interest is to ask questions regarding the role, company or even interviewer. For example, how did they progress into their position they’re in now?
2. You have researched the company
Asking questions regarding risks, competitors or recent changes highlights your initiative to research the company. You can also ask questions regarding the values of the organisation to see if they suit your tastes.
3. Settle any doubts
Will this remain a temporary position, or is there room for it to become permanent? How much training is involved? This is also the chance to find out any little doubts you may have to influence your final decision!
Questions Not To Ask In An Interview
Asking questions in an interview is strongly advised, however, there are some which are best left unsaid. Why? It may show you are uninterested in the role or displays an unprofessional attitude. Better safe than sorry!
- What is the salary?
- What does your company do?
- When can I take time off for a holiday?
- Did I get the job?
- Can I get a pay rise?
- How long is lunch?
Now you know what to say, how to behave and what to wear for your interview! Don’t forget to research the job position and the company, and practise your interview technique! We wish you all the luck for your job interview. Psst, you can also make your own free online CV right here, too.