“Congratulations. We’d like to invite you to an interview on…”
Success! You’ve relentlessly dished out CVs and have landed yourself an interview for that killer job. But suddenly, you panic. How can you make sure you stand out from the other applicants and cinch that position? Whether it’s a Saturday job to support your studies or your dream graduate job, there’s a few key tips to remember.
Look the part
The most important thing is to confirm the dress code. Most interviews are smart, but some aren’t, so make sure you don’t turn up in a suit if everyone else is going to be rocking up in skinny jeans. Wear what you’re comfortable in – if that’s a flowery dress and a blazer, you’ll ooze more confidence than that trouser suit you feel all stiff in. Oh, and clean your shoes, for goodness sake.
Not just to your potential employers. If there are other candidates waiting in line, or you’re at an assessment centre with a group, get chatting. It’ll help you stay calm (it’s a comfort to know they’re as nervous as you!) and your employers might be on the lookout to see who has good social skills. After all, you’re going to need to be able to talk to your future colleagues.
A whole other language
You’ve heard it before – body language does half the talking. You probably know never to cross your arms and legs – it looks defensive – but how else should you be sitting? Always maintain eye contact when speaking, avoid tucking back your hair or touching your face (it betrays your nerves) and mirror your interviewer’s movements. We’re talking subtlety – if they clasp their hands, try doing the same, if they lean forwards, give it a few seconds and follow. Psychological research shows this puts people at ease and makes people more likely to warm to you.
The interview will go far smoother with a little pre-planning. That means walking to the location before the day to find out exactly where it is and how long it will take to get there, getting your chosen outfit washed and ironed (yes, ironed, you lazy thing!) at least the night before, and packing your bag or briefcase with all the things you need in advance (any expenses forms, proof of work eligibility…) You’ll feel much calmer if you don’t end up in a last-minute panic, and this will come across.
Shine like a S.T.A.R.
That’s right, the good old STAR method. Use it for case studies and question answers. That stands for ‘situation’ (set the context of your case study: who, when, where), ‘task’ (your personal role and responsibility in the story), ‘activity’ (what you actually did; how you solved any problems), and ‘result’ (the outcome of your actions, whether it was personal growth or a successful presentation). Lots of companies are familiar with this method and will be on the lookout for it.
Remember, these people want to find a reason to hire you. They’re on your side! Interviewers all remember exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes, so relax: everything they ask will be an attempt to bring out your very best. Even landing an interview shows they already think highly of you. Get out there and show them exactly why you’re the best person for the job. Good luck!