Interview tips and preparation

8 mins
Sellick  Partnership

By Sellick Partnership

Job interviews are daunting and it’s natural to feel nervous when there’s one fast-approaching. The interview stage of your application is arguably the most important and it is essential that you make the right first impression and, giving the interviewer enough reason to take your application further, or even offer you the role.

You’re going to be meeting someone, or possibly more than one person, who will be judging you in all aspects. From your character and hobbies, to your work ethic and accomplishments - even how to carry yourself will be a point of interest.

If you have any specific questions regarding your next interview, please feel free to contact one of our expert team today

The average length of an interview is between 45 minutes to an hour, but around a third of recruiters and hiring managers generally know if they will offer the candidate a job within the first few minutes. The majority of hiring managers have also stated that they reject people for simple things such as not making eye contact, dressing inappropriately or walking into the room the wrong way. It is therefore vital that you make a great first impression from the offset.

So, here are our top interview tips to make sure you stand out.

Get everything ready (including yourself) before the interview

First and foremost, it is important to make sure you know the exact details of your interview including where it is, when and what time. We regularly hear about candidates that fail to turn up as they put the wrong date or time in their diary.

Once you know where you are going, it is important to ensure you know how to get there and how long it will take. Look up public transport timetables and make the journey a day or so before if this is possible. Alternatively, if you’ll be driving, do a test run in the car and make sure you are fully aware of how long it will take to get to the destination of your interview, as well as finding out where the nearest car park is (and if you need change for the metre).

When you have sorted out getting to your interview, it is important to think about what you are going to wear. If there is a dress code it is important to stick to this, otherwise dress professionally. We would also advise getting your clothes ironed and ready the night before in order to save any stress on the day of your interview.

If you run into any unavoidable issues on your journey to the interview, it is always best to call and give a heads up. Let them know your estimated time of arrival and manage expectations. Apologise and be professional.

When you do get to the interview, take a minute to compose yourself. It’s highly likely that you will have thrown yourself off by rushing so calm down outside and try to make the best impression you can.

We would advise that you apologise again but then don’t mention it any further, you want to be polite but not overdo it.

Conduct research ahead of your interview

Consider the type of business you are interviewing with – are they privately owned or a public company? Have they won any awards such as Great Place to Work®, or do they have any accreditations? By taking the time to look into this and referencing it in your interview shows how interested you are in working for the company and may help you to stand out from the crowd.

Research their main competitors, how they are viewed on the market, and the structure of the business (especially if they are part of a larger group). If your potential role would be to improve certain aspects of the company, mention some of the things you would implement after looking at similar businesses. This shows the interviewer that you’re proactively thinking already about the improvements you can make.

Be sure to fully look into the services they offer, even if they would not impact your role directly; showing an interest in the wider company will only be viewed as a positive.

To really get a feel for the company, use all the resources available to you at this stage. Try not to limit yourself to the company website and look at additional sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Glassdoor and even Facebook. These can all be valuable sources to gain insights into the company you are interviewing for. They can also give you a feel for the company culture and values.

Before going into the interview, have another look at the job description and specification to ensure you have plenty to speak about, and it is also important to research yourself before attending an interview. We always advise candidates to memorise their CV, or take a copy with them to ensure they can easily explain their career history if and when asked about it.

Make the right first impression

You should consider how to make the best possible first impression when attending any interview. Candidates should stand and sit up straight. Positive and open body language will show the interviewer that you are enthusiastic and interested as well as being engaged in the conversation.

It is also important to arrive early to ensure you are relaxed and have time to compose yourself. When you meet your interviewer for the first time offer a firm handshake and appropriate small-talk when entering the interview situation and always remember to smile!

It’s worth nothing that we have all been through a global pandemic, so if you’re not comfortable engaging in a handshake just explain this. Equally if you feel unsure about this interaction and think it’s necessary to ask, then do so. If nothing else, it will show that you have consideration for those around you. When it comes to speaking during the interview, make sure that you think first and speak second in order to formulate a clear response. If you accept a drink at the beginning of the interview then you will be able to take a sip which will give you a bit of time to think about your answer.

Make the most of the time you have throughout the interview

When you are at your interview it is important to make the most of the time you have available. You will more than likely be up against a few other candidates, so you want to perform at your best if you want to secure the job. We always tell our candidates to engage with the interviewer as much as possible.

Your interview should be a two-way conversation, so it is okay to ask questions and speak about extracurricular activities and hobbies. This will give the interviewer a feeling for what you are really like, and by showing your personality you are more likely to stick in their mind when they are making their decision.

You should also try to develop a connection with your interviewer, so make sure you know their name, and use it during the job interview (if you are not sure of their name, call and ask prior to the interview, or ensure you listen very carefully during introductions). Employers will always hire candidates that they like so building up a rapport and ensuring you create a personal connection can greatly enhance your chances of getting hired.

What to do after your interview

Once your interview has come to an end you will likely be asked if you have any questions, so it is important to think of a few beforehand. Asking questions will make you seem much more prepared, and can let the interviewer know that you are very keen on the vacancy. Some good examples are:

  • If you have any advice for the successful applicant what would it be?
  • What do you like best about working for this company?
  • What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
Show gratitude

Although the interviewer will make up their mind on you relatively quickly, you will have one final chance as you’re leaving the meeting, so try and end on a high note. Smile and thank them for their time in a genuine manner, you could even reiterate your interest in the job, if this feels right at the time.

After the interview, you could follow up with a thank you email to further communicate your interest in the position, including why you believe you’d be a good match. It could also be wise to include something mentioned during the interview to show your honest interest in the conversation.

You don’t need to go over the top and risk coming across desperate, therefore something simple will suffice.

It is important to be patient. Some companies may take time to make their decision, so do not pester them with emails or phone calls. Instead, keep in touch with your recruiter who will be able to discuss your application with the employer for you.

What next?

For more interview tips, visit our Candidate page. If you feel you are interview ready and are looking for a new job opportunity, check out our latest live roles here. Alternatively, you can contact one of our expert Consultants today and they will be more than happy to help you with your job search.