16 Sep 2019

7.4 Tips to Ace an Interview

Gemma Dicker

First impressions are so important, they make an impact and ultimately decide whether you get the job or not. Since working in recruitment, I have spoken to many candidates and clients, taking post-interview feedback, hearing about the best and worst interviews. From this and my own personal experience I have put together my own top tips so you can ace that interview and make an outstanding first impression.

1. Do your research! This is the first stage of preparation. Start browsing on the company’s website, look at their social media pages and even go a step further and look up the interviewers on LinkedIn. Put together some facts about the company, memorise them and then show off what you know in the interview. This will definitely impress the interviewer and show them how interested and proactive you are.

2. Actually read the Spec! When I say ‘Do your research’ I am not just referring to researching the company but also the role you have applied for. You need to analyse that job specification, understand each of the responsibilities and fully comprehend what the company is looking for in a successful candidate. Applied via an Agency? Ask your Consultant for information on ‘why’ the job is available. Is it due to growth, a new project, replacing an incumbent (if so, think about how you can demonstrate why you’re an upgrade to their previous employee).

3. Consider what you might be asked! People can often feel daunted by the word ‘interview’ but if we just look at the basics, you will see that an interview is really just a series of questions and answers. Most interviews have the same fundamental questions along with some more job specific questions. So, think about your strengths, weaknesses and your unique selling points. What are your career aspirations and why did you apply for this role in particular?

4. Know yourself! You will need to know your CV like the back of your hand, anticipating any questions relating to your experience, education or gaps in your CV. All these topics are likely to be brought up in the interview so you need to think about how you will answer them.

5. Give some detail! Leaving things unsaid, leaves your interview with the chance to make assumptions. Though this can work for and against you, your job is to give enough detail in your answers, that you lead their minds along a path that shows you in a good light, post interview. A one worded answer is not enough; elaborate and explain, as each question gives you the opportunity to sell yourself.

6. Show some interest! There will usually be time at the end of an interview for you to ask the questions. Many people do not prepare for this part of an interview and therefore miss out on the chance to find out more about the company. You can ask questions about company culture, training, progression or anything else that relates to the business and position you are interviewing for. Not only is this a great opportunity to delve deeper into understanding the company but also to show the interviewer how interested you are. Remember to keep the questions relevant and not ask a question about a subject that has already been discussed in the interview. You should also avoid asking questions about salary or other benefits.

7. The little details! Now a reminder of the little things that are sometimes forgotten or not seen as important. However, you may be surprised at how the following could be the difference between passing and failing that interview:

7.1. Dress to impress! Unless told otherwise you should always dress smart and be well presented. You can always ask the recruiter if you are unsure of the attire. Prepare what you’re going to wear, the night before.
7.2. Never be late! Always plan your journey the day before and use Google Street view to see the entrance of your interview location. Allow time for any possible delays. You should always aim to arrive for the interview between 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time.
7.3. Manners! It doesn’t just start with a good firm handshake when you first meet the interviewer. From the receptionist who greets you, to the person next to you on the train or on the car in front on your commute – leave your home with a smile on. You never know who you’re passing and where they work (for example, a recent candidate had road rage en-route, only to find it was the interviewers PA, true story).
7.4. Personality is key! You need to show energy and enthusiasm. An interviewer is looking for someone who is interested in the job and who will fit well into their team, so make sure you let your personality come through and remember to smile a bit.

There you have it, some obvious and not-so-obvious tips. Interviews can be nerve-wracking and stressful; I know that from first-hand experience, but preparation can go a long way.
You owe it to yourself to remove as much of the stress as possible and you can do that by preparing in advance. If you follow my interview checklist, you can feel armed and ready to take on the challenge. Now it’s up to you, so take some time to plan and prepare, and go show those interviewers why you are the ideal candidate for the job.
Remember that practice makes perfect, so the more interviews you attend the better you will be!

For more tips or help, don’t hesitate to contact me: gemma.dicker@twentyfourgroup.co.uk