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Tips for making a good impression at your interview

Attending an interview can be a nerve wracking experience - follow our guidelines and you will be well tutored and prepared, giving you the best chance of landing the job you want.

 

When an interviewer asks you questions about yourself and your career you need to answer positively and concisely.  You are unlikely to do this by chance, but you will do it by careful preparation and, of course, practice.

 

Qualifications and experience alone doesn’t guarantee you the job. Communicate your skills confidently and give out the right signals with your body language.  Emphasise your strengths and let the best side of your personality shine through.

 

 

Grooming

  • Always dress smartly using bright colours only as an accessory, not to dominate your outfit.

  • Take only one neat bag or small briefcase with you.

  • Limit jewellery to small subtle pieces, make sure your nails are clean & well trimmed and that your hair is tidy.

  • Small amounts of light perfume or aftershave is fine but make sure it is not overpowering and don’t spray anything just before entering the building.

  • Good personal hygiene and fresh breath is essential.

 

 

Etiquette

An interview is your chance to make a positive impression and good manners are vital. The position you have applied for may not be the right one for you, but the company may well be and the company could call you back for a different position in the future if you conducted yourself with style.

 

  • Prior to attending the interview, make sure that you know exactly where you are going and the time of the meeting.

  • Find out who will be seeing you and make sure you pronounce their name correctly and know their title within the company.

  • Check out the route you will take and ensure that you arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will show that you are keen and also give you an opportunity to fill in an application form if needed.    

  • When entering the reception area, be mindful that the first impression is created here.

  • Always be polite and friendly to the reception staff as they can often be the most powerful people in the company. Why? Because they are constantly liaising with senior management and if you have been less than impressive on your introduction, you can guarantee that the decision makers will hear of it and no matter how brilliant your interview went with the personnel officer, you will not get that job because you don't fit into the culture of the company and have shown a disrespect for others.     

  • Bring a copy of your CV with you in case the interviewer asks for it and have your references with you but only offer them if asked.

  • On introduction to your interviewer, shake hands firmly, make good eye contact, wait to be asked before sitting down, always sit upright and show interest in what is being said.

  • Never smoke, eat or chew gum even if the interviewer offers you or is doing so.

  • Always remain polite, friendly and professional whilst also showing enthusiasm.

 

 

Application Forms

Many employers ask you to complete an application form whilst waiting in reception.     

 

  • Take your time to fill out the form neatly, with brief and carefully considered answers.     

  • If you are fortunate enough to have the form in advance of the interview, take a photocopy and plot your answers on the copy.

  • When you are confident that the form represents you well, copy it onto the original in your best handwriting.       

  • Always pay attention to special instructions given on the form for completion.
     

 

Communication

At the interview, you need to show poise and confidence as well as illuminating your qualifications and/or experience.

 

  • Courtesy is most important, and you need to show an interest in the company and the opportunities available.      

  • Really listen to what is being said so that you can respond intelligently to the interviewer.     

  • Responsive smiles and firm handshakes can often make the difference between a job offer and no offer.

 

Don't be afraid to let the interviewer know if you feel nervous and remind yourself that the interviewer had to go through the very same procedure as you at some stage - otherwise they themselves would not be in a position to interview you!

 

 

Body Language

Our body language can sometimes tell another person more about you than words alone. An interviewer may be observing your gestures for clues as to your confidence and honesty.     

 

  • Always make sure your handshake is firm because this shows confidence.    

  • Maintain good eye contact (without staring!) as this shows interest and self-assurance.    

  • Sit upright but not rigidly, to show you are alert and lean slightly forward to show confidence and attentiveness.   

  • Talking with your hands show openness but don't overuse the hand movements.    

  • Nodding acknowledgment of what the interviewer is saying shows agreement but nodding constantly can be interpreted as lack of interest.    

  • Shaking your head or frowning is negative but smiling can help develop a rapport with the interviewer.

  • Covering your mouth shows you are uncertain and scratching your nose could be a sign that you are not telling the truth or trying to cover up.   

  • Resting your chin in your hand shows boredom and crossing your arms indicates defensiveness or resistance.

 

Single movements alone are meaningless, but patterns of signals build up a much fuller picture.

 

 

Know your CV

You should never have to refer to your CV during the interview, so make sure you remember all your employment dates, job titles, responsibilities and accomplishments. Have answers for questions relating to your choice of further education, career changes and gaps in employment.
 

 

Prepare for Questions

  • Show how much you already know about the company and the position by asking well thought out questions on the role and focus the interview on how your skills can complement the job.

  • Showing that you understand the requirements of the position gives credibility on how your background and experience applies.

  • Before the interview, always gather as much information on the company as you can and understand why the position interests you and how your long-term goals fit in with the opportunity on offer.