Your CV has got you through the door; now it's up to you to impress the recruiter and prove you really are the right person for the job. The following key points may seem straightforward but they're the most important steps you can take to ensure you make a good impression from the get-go.
Research the company thoroughly prior to the job interview. Hmm, we may have said this before. But we make no apologies because this is the single most important piece of advice we can give you.
Read through the company website to gain a thorough understanding of what it does, its values, clients or audience and any technologies it uses (or could be using).
You should also Google the company and read any press releases, forums or internet chatter. Note important issues or points you can discuss at the interview, and, where possible, suggest how your contribution could impact their business model; show them the money!
Take copies of your CV and the job description with you to the interview. It may also be worthwhile taking a digital copy with you on a USB stick, along with any other portfolio work that may interest them. Don't be afraid of showing off, you can bet the other candidates won’t be holding back!
All this prep work will go a long way to helping you prepare answers to questions you might be asked during the interview. As well as swotting up on the standard questions, if you applied through a recruitment consultant, make them earn their fee by briefing you on specific things the employer might ask. At the end of the day, they want you to get the job and get paid their placement fee – so use them.
You also need to come up with relevant questions to ask the interviewer about the company and your role. You may well be able to come up with questions based on the interview content itself, but it’s worthwhile having a few stock questions prepared just to ensure you're not floundering like a beached whale when the tables are turned.
You may want to ask something along the lines of "what's it like to work here?", "what are the career prospects like?", and "where does the company see itself within the marketplace within the next few years?".
Do we really need to tell you this? Well, yes actually – make sure you're on time. Don't have an alarm clock? Get one.
Plan your route in advance and make a dry run to the interview location a few days beforehand to make sure you’re clear on where you’re going. Print out directions and maps from sites like Google Maps and make sure you have alternate routes available should there be any problems.
Make sure you have numbers for both the recruiter and the company you’re interviewing with so you can let them know if there are any major issues that will cause you to be late or need to rearrange the interview.
Always keep everyone informed if there are unavoidable problems. They will understand, honest.
Dress the part
While many companies will still expect you to turn up in a suit and tie, or formal office wear, this may not always be the case – particularly if you are interviewing for a website or new media company. And turning up overly smart for an interview at the latest dotcom could actually work against you.
Speak to your recruitment consultant or the HR department of the company that’s interviewing you about the appropriate attire. If in doubt, go with the smart option, but don’t overdo it. Don't use any heavy aftershave or perfume and be careful to consider the amount of make-up and/or jewellery you wear.
After the interview
If you're unsuccessful, use it as an opportunity to improve. Ask for feedback from the interviewer. You're entitled to it! If you were skills or competency tested, ask for the results. This shows initiative and keenness on your part, as well as boosting your future interview success chances; the interviewer might consider you for future vacancies at the company based on this action alone.
And remember what your nan taught you...politeness costs nothing. It's always worthwhile sending a note of thanks – via email or otherwise – for the interviewer’s time.
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- Top 5 interview tips
- Interview checklist
- How to dress
- Find an IT job