Inspiring’s top 10 interview tips

You’ve got an interview, fantastic! Now you need to make sure you make the most of this opportunity. Don’t panic! With our top 10 interview tips you should nail it!

1. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
Doing research is key to succeeding in your interview. Before you can sell to the interviewer how your personality and skills fit with the company and the role you should understand: what the company does; what the position you are interviewing for entails; and who your interviewer is.

Read the website and beyond! Make sure you understand their business, their competitors, the projects they are involved in and latest developments in the industry. Also do your research on your interviewer by viewing their LinkedIn profile. Look at what they do now and how they got there. You may want to look for common ground with which you could engage them at interview (did you go to the same university? Perhaps you support the same football team?). All this will be useful information for you to show your fit and ask better questions when given the opportunity.

2. Be a STAR and dazzle potential employers with your answers!
Your interview answers should be clear and concise and show enthusiasm. Nobody likes talking to someone who seems disinterested or babbles a lot! The optimum interview answer should be 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Structure your answers and use examples. You can use the STAR technique to help you keep on track and show the achievement you gained in the example you are using:

S – situation: briefly outline the scenario you were in (who, where, when)
T – task: briefly highlight the objective and what you hoped to achieve
A – action: describe what you did and the skills you used (focus on your input)
R – result: highlight your achievement and how you developed as a result

The job description will contain key competencies that you are likely to be questioned on. You can plan some of your answers to include these examples. This technique will demonstrate to your interviewer that you have the skills you say you have. Don’t forget to back your answers by delivering them with a lot of confidence as this will show that you believe in what you are saying.

3. Listen, think and only then shoot!
Don’t rush into an answer to fill a silence. You can give yourself time to think about the question being asked, just ask for a moment if you need one. Most employers would rather wait a few moments and hear a relevant answer than listen to waffle. Also clarify the question if you are unsure of what the interviewer is asking you.

4. Where’s the toilet?
Ok, maybe not. But DO ask your interviewer a question. You should know everything and anything there is to know about your potential employer so technically you should also know the answer to the question you ask, but it shows you are interested. Everybody loves talking about themselves and their achievements so asking slightly more questions focused onto your interviewer’s achievements and career will put you in their good books. You can ask questions such as “what made you choose this career path?” and “what do you enjoy most about your position?” And, if you’re lucky enough to meet the CEO, asking them how and why they set up the company will really put them in a good mood!

5. Actions do speak louder than words!
No slouching! Remember the long days spent lounging on the sofa at university are long gone. You are enthusiastic, right? Right? Sitting up straight, smiling and keeping eye contact shows how enthusiastic and interested you are in the position. Give a confident handshake – you may as well not turn up if you are going to give a limp ‘wet fish’ handshake. Equally, don’t let your lasting impression be a sore hand from it being crushed!

6. Dress to impress
You might not be a book but your “cover” does show how keen you are to join a company. The first impression you make is the most important one, so do dress in a professional way that is relevant to the industry you are interviewing for.

Generally, men should wear a suit, a long sleeve shirt and a tie. Don’t forget a belt and dark socks! Leave your jewellery at home and style your hair in a professional manner. Also, make sure you don’t scare potential employers off with too much aftershave! Of course if you are interviewing at a company with a more relaxed environment (many start-ups do not have a strict dress code) it may be more appropriate to go smart-casual (think chinos and an open-neck shirt).

Ladies should also be dressed in a suit or a smart dress. Don’t wear anything too revealing, low cut or tight. Also be careful of too much make up, going for a natural look is best. Keep skirts to around knee length and jewellery should be kept simple.

7. Watch your language
If you are a fan of colourful language and slang in your everyday life, do try to avoid it in an interview, even if your interviewer is using it (they might be testing your professionalism!). Steer clear of professional jargon or ‘management speak’ too – it may look like you’re trying to avoid answering the question and your interviewer may not even understand what you are talking about!

8. Expect the unexpected!
Mentally prepare yourself for unexpected questions, presentations or exercises. Questions such as “can you tell me a joke?”, “what books have you read recently?” or “how many cars can you fit round the M25?” are meant to test your creativity and how well you can cope under pressure. There is no one correct answer to these. Take your time and use logic and reason to give insightful answers.

You should also be aware that the interview might include exercises like short presentations, group work or other challenges that might not relate directly to the position. Again, these should demonstrate your ability to think quickly on your feet.

9. Have you been to the loo?
Do a last check before leaving the house. At the bare minimum this should include:

● Knowing where you are going, planning your journey and leaving enough time! TFL journey planner will allow you to estimate your journey time (always leave more time!). It is best to go into the office 10 minutes before you scheduled time – earlier may just interrupt what your interviewer was doing and put them in a bad mood!
● Checking the weather, the last thing you want is to turn up to your interview in a soggy suit and with wet hair!
● Ensuring you have everything they asked you to take (this may include your passport, visa documents and confirmation email).
● Taking the essentials: an umbrella, hairbrush (more relevant for girls!), notepad, pen and a mint!

10. After your interview
Make sure you thank the interviewer for their time. It is okay for you to ask when you are likely to hear back with a decision. Also, if your interviewer sets you a task make sure you complete it and send it back ASAP. This will show that you are very interested in the role and are keen to get going. You can also email your interviewer after to say that you enjoyed meeting them and underline how excited you are about the position.

Hopefully that gives you some interview essentials that will stand you in good stead for the big day – so all there is left to say is good luck!

This blog was provided by Inspiring’s mighty HR team. You can catch some of them on Twitter (@Inspiring_Helen, @graduatebubble) for more golden nuggets of graduate advice and news!

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