Job interview tips – http://wp.me/p5SQPa-t7
Do you know what, job hunting is an eye-opening experience. In my previous job I interviewed quite a lot of people for roles, and I’ve been job hunting myself for a couple of months now. I have attended quite a few interviews so far and I’m learning things about myself and about the entire process every week. As a person who has a tendency to err on the side of anxious I thought I could offer some advice and tips for other people in the same or a similar position.
On that note, here are my tips for attending a job interview and generally not losing your you know what in the process:
- Screen shot emails. I never rely on my Internet when I travel to a job interview, I always screen shot the emails on my phone so I can ensure I have the address on me regardless of whether I have connectivity or not. This also means I will usually have the name of the person I am meeting and the exact job title (in my industry they are often very similar but slightly different job titles on a role to role basis, you don’t want to get confused on the day). When you screen shot emails make sure you include the signature so you have the name of the person you’ve liaised with and their phone number in case you need to call them en route or when you arrive.
- Arrive early. I usually aim to arrive a whole hour early. I walk from the station to where the interview is so I am certain I know where it is and then I will find a nearby cafe to relax in before I have to go in. This allows for travel delays, gives you time to get lost a bit first and provides the opportunity to do a last scan through of the job description and your CV.
- Always accept water. When you arrive at your interview I am 100% sure you will be offered a drink. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, always ask for a glass of water. It’s so useful for a multitude of reasons but the two most important ones in my opinion are: you may get a dry throat due to nerves and knowing the water is there will prevent you from panicking, and if you need a few seconds to think about an answer you can take a sip of water to make a pause seem more natural.
- Feel free to think. If you need time to think about an answer, just tell them that! I have been on both sides of this situation, as an interviewer and an interviewee, and I can guarantee that if you are asked a question and you say, “I need a few moments to think about that” they will not think any less of you. It’s also worth remembering that your pause will feel longer to you than it really is.
- Know your CV. I know this seems obvious, but I realised how important this was at an interview the other day when something I said was questioned because they didn’t think it was on my CV. They made me doubt myself and for a second I panicked that I had missed it off, but deep down I knew it was there and I had the confidence to tell them to double check. Sure enough, there it was. I felt like it gave me the upper hand in what could have otherwise been an awkward situation where I looked stupid.
- Don’t feel ganged up on. Interviews can seem scary, but trust me, they want you to do well. Recruiting is time consuming and expensive and they want to find the best person for the job as easily and painlessly as possible. Don’t go in with the attitude that you are being tested or that they are trying to freak you out or trip you up. They want you to be the right person so that the process can be over for them asap.
- Bodies are bodies. You might need to sneeze or to cough and this is fine. If you know you have a bit of a cold then let them know this when you arrive. There are lots of ways to do this subtly without making them think you have a contagious lurgy. The last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit unwell so when I’ve met my interviewers I’ve said to them, “I’m just recovering from a bit of a cold so please excuse me if I go a bit croaky!”. It breaks the ice, they’ll often praise you for making the effort to attend, and that way if you do cough you can just excuse yourself, take a moment to recover and continue with minimal awkwardness. One more thing – if you cough into your right hand during your interview they will probably appreciate it if you excuse yourself from shaking their hands at the end. This isn’t rude, they will be pleased! Similarly on the ‘bodies are bodies’ point – go for a wee beforehand.
- If you are too ill, stay at home. Sadly I can say from experience that some companies will refuse to reschedule your interview if you are too ill to attend. HOWEVER, I think this is rare. If a company can accommodate you, usually they will. I was far too ill to attend an interview last week so I emailed them late afternoon the day before and explained this and asked if I could please reschedule. They were incredibly understanding, gave me a slot for the following week and wished me better. This is all personal opinion and judgement, but I am of the view that attending an interview with the common cold is fine, but if you are so ill that you are functioning at less than 80% of your usual self (or obviously if you do have a horrible contagious lurgy) then you should try to rearrange.
- Have your questions ready. You will get asked towards the end of your interview if you have any questions. I think it is always best to have a couple ready. Often some role-specific ones will come to you during the interview itself (and it may be absolutely fine to ask these as you go along, gauge this for yourself dependent on how the conversation is flowing) but I have two questions that I always ask at the end of every interview: “What are some of the challenges in your role and how do you tackle them?” and “What are some of your favourite things about working for this company and about your role here?” I find these questions to be extremely valuable. The answers you get will give you an idea of how the team and the company as a whole solves problems together and how cohesive the work community is. You will also find out what makes people at the company tick, what they value and what the culture is like. In my experience of asking these questions I have found they really help to build a rapport and often have a bit of a laugh with your interviewers.
- Ask for feedback. If you are unsuccessful in your interview then find out why. Often when they contact you to tell you that they’ve gone with another candidate they will give you feedback automatically, but if they don’t then ask them for it. This actually applies to any stage of the application process – even if a company has said on their jobs page that they can’t give feedback I still email asking for it if I am rejected. Sometimes they will stick with what they’ve said and tell you they don’t have enough time, but they might appreciate your initiative and send you some pointers.
Please do leave me a comment with your job hunting, job application or job interview advice! I would love to collate people’s tips into another blog post.