Landing an interview for your dream role is both exciting and terrifying. Unlike every other interview, this one feels like the be-all and end-all, and you’ll likely already have started piling the pressure on yourself.
So, before you start planning your outfit for your first day of work, rethinking your office lunches, and figuring out how you’ll spend your first paycheque, here are all the tips you need for nailing your interview – segmented into before, during, and after.
How to prepare for an interview
1. Research the business
No matter what business you’re applying for, you should always do research for an interview. In almost every interview, you’ll be asked ‘tell us what you know about our business’, and you’ll need to be equipped with something a little more than what they sell and how popular they are on social media…
2. And the role
After you’ve taken a deep dive into the company as a whole, you’ll need to make sure you’ve fully researched the role you’re applying for. If you are missing skills or don’t have a qualification they’re asking for, be ready to sell yourself and show your willingness to learn.
If you know you’ll need a qualification, there’s always time to enroll in a masters of education online and study alongside the job. You can then present this in the interview to show you’re already trying to fill any skill gaps you have.
3. Rehearse your answers
While you won’t know the exact questions they’re going to ask you, there are a few standard options that you’ll likely be asked. Check online for practice interview questions and work with a friend to nail your answers. Practicing with a person will help you learn to maintain eye contact and improve your body language. If you need to do a presentation, practice this too to ensure you don’t go over the allotted time.
4. Dress the part
There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to what to wear for an interview. Most businesses now accept smart casual, so make sure to find an outfit well in advanced. Going for a professional style will help you look the part while also making you feel more confident.
5. Be on time – or early
With real-time traffic updates, apps to plan your route on public transport, and time on either side of the interview, there’s very little excuse for being late. Make sure to plan your journey and double-check traffic reports the morning of to allow for extra time if needed.
6. Equip yourself with your CV, work examples, and key figures
An interview is all about selling yourself. Even if the company hasn’t asked for previous work examples or a presentation, it’s always nice to equip yourself with a few selling points to really impress them.
7. Turn off your phone
This is your dream job: Opportunities like this don’t come around often. That means there should be nothing that gets in the way of you nailing your interview. Avoid the embarrassment and turn off your phone – don’t risk leaving it on silent, only to realize it’s on vibrate. Turn it off.
What to do during an interview
While you might be trying to remember exactly what to say in your head, it’s integral that you really listen to what’s being said. You could easily miss a question or misunderstanding what they’re asking for if you let nerves get the best of you. Stay focused, and the rest will come naturally.
Fake it till you make it. Even if you feel like a mumbling nervous wreck inside, always be sure to smile throughout your interview. Plus, smiling is contagious; if you do it enough, your interview will leave the interviewer feeling positive.
10. Maintain eye contact
Everyone’s worst nightmare. A key part of active listening is to look people in the eye when listening or talking; this gives the impression of confidence and shows you’re totally prepared for whatever question they throw at you. If you are using a presentation, make sure to speak to the interviewer and not to the screen.
11. Speak clearly and slowly
Remember that rehearsing you did with your friend? Now it’s your time to shine.
12. Stay truthful
Lying could cause you a lot of problems in the long run. Enhancing your abilities or lying about qualifications can easily be tested, so it’s not worth the risk. Always be truthful but positive about your strengths, weaknesses, and boundaries.
13. Ask questions back
An interview is as much for you as it is for them. They’re there to see if you’re a good fit for the business, and you’re there to see if they’re a good fit for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the work, progression, and what they like about the company.
14. Use body language
First impressions are key, and a lot can be said without ever saying a thing. The way you sit, stand or hold yourself during the interview can say a lot. So don’t let them have any doubt; sit up straight, uncross those legs, and have your arms on the desk.
What to do after an interview
15. Thank them for their time
Even if it’s gone terribly, and you’re desperate to leave, always be professional and polite and thank them for their time. That lasting impression could be make or break.
16. Follow up
There’s no rule on being keen. When you leave, or when you get home, shoot across an email reiterating your appreciation for the interview and let them know you’re eager to be considered.
17. Distract yourself
The worst thing you can do is dwell on it. Overthinking will guarantee you’ll find something you could’ve done better. But what’s done is done, and all that’s left to do is wait and see.
18. Think about negotiations
If you do get offered the job, what are your terms? You might have thought of additional questions to ask or may be disappointed in the salary they’re initially offering. Be sure to make a few notes to prepare if that offer phone call comes through.
You might also be required to do a second interview. Whichever way the interview goes, it’s worth being prepared for every outcome – good and bad. You never know, you could be in your dream job in no time!