12. Top Interview Tips

Bear in mind the three Ps to achieve success in your interview - Prepare, practise, and perform!

First impressions count

Greet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake. Give eye contact. Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. Research has shown that the interviews could well have made up their mind about you in 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether they like you or not and whether you will fit into the team.

Be prepared

Re-read your CV and the job advert just before the interview. Do your research thoroughly.  Look at the company website or literature. You may be asked about the salary you are after so make sure you research that as well if they have not already stated it. And make sure you arrive on time!

Remember your body language

It is not what you say, but how you say it. During the interview, do not fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor! Sit upright and try to maintain good eye contact. Use your hands and lean forward when making a point. Many people cannot think and control their body language at the same time, which is why you need to prepare.

Listen to the questions

Answer questions properly - even if you need a few moments' silence to collect your thoughts.  It's better to say you need a minute to think about your answer rather than speak instantly and regret it afterwards. It is also very easy to start planning your answer before the interviewer has finished speaking, therefore giving an inappropriate answer. Always ask for clarification if you are uncertain as to what is meant by the question.

Why should they hire you?

Most job adverts will list qualities they're looking for - a team worker, a good communicator - so it's up to you to think of examples of how you can demonstrate these skills. Be ready to talk about your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills. Have at least three strong points about yourself that you can relate to the company and job on offer.

Be positive

Your interviewer will be thinking about what it would be like to work with you, so the last thing they'll want to hear is you talking about your boss or current colleagues behind their back. Interviewers like to see someone who enjoys a challenge and is enthusiastic. Do consider that whilst you want to appear confident, never verge towards arrogance which does not go down well in an interview!

Expect the unexpected

Your interviewer may try to catch you off guard. It is impossible to plan for every difficult question, such as “Who is your favourite book character and why?" but try to appear relaxed and in control. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but do not evade it.

Develop rapport

Show energy, a sense of humour and smile. It's infectious, being positive and enthusiastic. Ask your interviewer questions about themselves i.e. “What have you enjoyed most about working here?” and any issues the business is facing i.e. coping with increased external competition.

Be natural

Try to sound as natural as possible which will also make you appear more confident. Even if you have prepared and memorised your own answers, you should be careful to make sure that you don’t come across as too rehearsed. Once you have practised a number of times, then relax as your interview should sound like a conversation, not as if you are reading lines from a play!

Follow-up after your interview

Ask your interviewer for a business card at the end of your interview and follow it up by sending a "thank-you" e-mail, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and how interested you are. Take the opportunity to detail the key skills you could offer them.