Your CV is generally the first introduction you have to a company or recruiter. However, your CV is really just there to get you in the door for an interview. Once you are invited for an interview then it’s make or break. An interview establishes more than just whether or not you can dress yourself and ‘can like speak good and stuff’ but what makes you, you. It confirms that you are not lying on your CV but it also delves into your interpersonal skills and creates a moment for the interviewer to get to know some of your leadership and communication style. It is a real face to face moment to see if you will fit into the company and whether or not you would actually like to build a career with that specific group of people.
Here are a few things that we think are important to keep in mind to help you stand out when you go for an interview. While this list is not exhaustive – it should help you stand out from the crowd!
1. Be punctual – nothing says “I can’t lead myself” like arriving late.
Every time we have to sit and wait for a candidate that is late for an interview it leaves us thinking “will I be happy to send them to my client?”. When you are late, no matter the reason, the interviewer feels that their time is being wasted. That is not the kind of start you want when trying to land your dream job. You want the interviewer to leave thinking that you will be a good investment and not a possible resource drain!
2. Dress professionally – this may seem obvious but looking the part goes a long way.
While this does not mean that you need to necessarily wear a tie or 3mm of makeup it is important to dress like you are already on the job. When doing research about the company find out what kind of dress code they hold. If it is a smart environment and everyone wears ties and high heels then this is not the moment to “express your unique style choice of no shoes and a tie dye shirt”. If you want to work there you may need to adjust your wardrobe slightly.
3. Remain calm – you are there to offer your service as much as they are there to offer you a job.
This is a massive one as we tend to say some pretty awkward things when we are nervous! Breathe. You are there to offer a service to a company as much as they are there to employ your services. After all – there are two types of employers out there…those that will hire you and those that won’t. You are just trying to find the ones that will hire you and go from there.
4. Smile – you will come across calmer and more confident when you smile.
When we get nervous and are trying to be serious we can easily overcook it. Practice smiling before you leave for the interview. Remember that smiling actually releases tiny little dolphins that swim around your blood stream and make you happy. Or was that endorphins? Anyway…rather smile than frown!
5. Maintain eye contact – this shows respect, confidence and that you are engaged in the conversation.
Interviewers are looking for that confident person that is going add value in the role they are looking to fill. Eye contact shows that you are engaged and ready to be put to work and make a contribution. It shows confidence and self assurance. Hey, even if you are not 100% sure of yourself it is better to fake it till you make it rather than awkwardly shuffle your feet and look at the desk. It will help to ask a friend to “fake interview” you the day before to test your new found confidence.
6. Speak slowly and clearly – good communication is key to being heard and understood.
Mumbling and speaking too quickly may put the interviewer off as they may worry that you won’t be able to effectively communicate with other employees or possible customers/clients. Speak slowly and do your best to pronounce your words clearly. Interviews can range from 15 minutes to 3 hours so don’y try and rush your way through your answers or questions.
7. Listen carefully – make sure you understand what is being said and asked.
Interviews have a set structure with specific questions that need to be asked to assess each candidate. Some interviews are weird and creative (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewek-6TudOM) while others are straight forward. Listen to the questions being asked and do your best to answer them. Try keep it conversational where possible.
8. Tell the truth – obviously don’t lie but do remember to be yourself.
This seems like it should not be on the list…but it needs to be. People sometimes think it is okay to lie on their CVs or in an interview. Trust us…the truth always comes out! This goes for using appropriate references and making sure you don’t doctor any elements on your education history. It is easy for a recruiter to run a background check on you and any misdemeanors or lies about work history and education will show up and need to be accounted for.
9. Ask intelligent questions – employers want to know that you are prepared and are interested in the company and the role.
Depending on the specific industry that you are looking to work in there will be key questions that will help you as the candidate establish whether or not you want to work at that company. You might want to know about the company’s social responsibility or celebration culture. Do they have employee wellness programmes or is it possible to study and learn on the job. Do not fall for the temptation to ask solely about how quickly you can get a pay raise. Certain questions may appear selfish and make the interviewers think you are only there for your own gain and not to help the company move forward.
10. End well – shake hands and thank the interviewer at the end of the time.
Thanking the interviewer for their time and the interaction is good practice. This sends a strong message that you value people’s time and effort and that you are considerate. A good firm handshake or a kind smile with a hearty goodbye could easily set you apart from those that just leave when the interview is over.