Firstly, if you have a job interview scheduled, well done! You’re one step closer to your ideal role and it’s important to acknowledge how well you’ve done so far to reach this point.
Having a positive job interview experience is all a matter of planning, as it not only improves your chances of earning the role but improves your confidence going in, which translates into your body language.
In this article, we explore how you can properly prepare for a job interview with our top job interview tips for success, including how to approach questions and how to create a great first impression.
What should you consider in a job interview?
The preparation for your job interview is just as important as your performance in it. If you take the proper steps you’ll feel much more comfortable, which helps you build confidence.
Consider splitting the interview into multiple sections. This can help you build an idea of how you should approach each element by using our specific job interview tips.
Some of the key things to consider – and subsequently what we’ll be exploring – is the following:
- How to prepare answers for your job interview
- What questions should you ask your employer?
- How can you create a good first impression with your employer?
- What should you take to an interview?
- What tips should you consider on body language and manners?
Take a look at our vacancies.
How to prepare answers for your job interview
In the days preceding your interview, it can be a good idea to consider the various questions you might be asked and how you can answer them in the best way.
You’ll typically face several ‘generic’ questions that aim to explore your personality and working style alongside more technical questions that measure your knowledge, understanding and skillset.
If you want help with answering job interview questions, you can use the following tips:
Research: A key job interview tip is that you should always research the company that you’re applying for, as it can help you provide context for your answers. During your researching, learn the requirements of the role and how your background matches these points. By having this knowledge, you can align your answers with the company values and build a more complete, confident answer.
Plan for common questions: You’ll likely be asked generic questions by employers, as it allows them to build a broader understanding of you as an employee. Questions such as ‘tell me about yourself’ and ‘what are your strengths’ are common. If you pre-plan your answers to these questions by also using some of your knowledge about the business, you can demonstrate your value with confidence.
Explore the job description: Always take the time to re-read the job description throughout the application process. Fundamentally, the employer has told you what they want within the job description and anything else you can show is a bonus. Consider how your skills and experience align with elements of the description and think of examples where you can demonstrate these skills.
Actually practice: An easy way to prepare for a job interview is to role-play the setting with friends or family members. This is a great way of building confidence if you’re anxious about the experience, while also helping you develop your ability to adapt on the fly.
What questions should you ask your employer?
You’ll generally receive the opportunity to ask your own questions during the interview, which is the ideal time to show your initiative and reinforce your value.
While it can be tempting to not ask questions because the interview has gone positively, it’s still important to do so as there’s always generally an opportunity to learn more. Some of the best questions to ask include:
- Can you explain the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
- How will you measure my performance in the role?
- Does this role work alongside other teams?
- What challenges does the team or business currently face?
- What characteristics are you looking for from the successful candidate in this role?
Find the support you need.
How can you create a good first impression with your employer?
The whole cliche around first impressions is a cliche for a reason. In most instances, the job interview is the first time that you meet your employer in person. It’s important that you make a great first impression and many things can play into this, including body language, manners and other seemingly minor things.
Firstly, dress accordingly. While we’ve already discussed what to wear in a job interview, the simple rule is that you can never be too dressed up. Some businesses may have a more relaxed dress code but generally will expect you to dress more formally for the interview process. Our top job interview tip is to either ask your recruiter or have a standard professional outfit that you can fall back on.
When you’re planning for your interview, also think about travel arrangements and timings. You don’t want to arrive late – this will generally ruin your chances of a positive experience. Try to get there 10 minutes before the appointment as this gives you and your interviewer time to prepare. If you arrive any earlier, you risk surprising the employer who likely has a busy schedule.
Finally, think about your greetings! Maintain good eye contact, greet each person individually if there’s multiple interviewers and maintain ‘professional’ body language – no slouching, leaning, swearing etc.
What should you take to an interview?
During the run-up to the interview, you may receive information from the employer on what you’ll need to take. Depending on the role, this may include a task such as a presentation or an example of work such as a portfolio.
If you’re unsure what to take, you can’t go wrong with the following essentials:
Extra copies of your CV: Employers typically print a copy of your CV and cover letter but it’s a good idea to have spares that you can hand out to anyone else in the interview.
A way of taking notes: Depending on the role you’re applying for, it may be worth taking notes about the day-to-day responsibilities or requirements of the role. Aside from demonstrating diligence and commitment, this can help you when you’re considering questions to ask at the end of the interview. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact when you can while taking notes.
A folder or binder: If you’re presenting a written task, portfolio or further documentation, having all of your additional assets in a folder is ideal. Having physical media is a great alternative to laptops or smartphones, just in case there’s internet or technical issues.
What tips should you consider on body language?
Positive body language and good manners is one of the most underrated job interview tips. Non-verbal communication is just as much a ‘soft skill’ as verbal communication and it’s used at its most during an interview setting.
- Having good body language is simple. Make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to. Frequently make eye contact with others to keep them engaged. Maintain a good posture and smile as much as you can without being overbearing. A positive demeanour can go a long way in a professional setting.
- Treat every person with respect during the process. It’s not just the interviewer that can impact your application. Think about how you speak with fellow candidates and employees you meet such as administration staff.
- Remember your polite greetings and farewells. If you’re shaking hands, look the other person in the eye and provide a firm but not crushing handshake to everyone individually.
- Consider sending a follow-up. This is a judgement call but if it feels right, you might send an email follow-up after the interview. This might be a simple ‘thank you’ or provide further context around you as a candidate.
Job interview tips for success
Below are some of the general job interview tips that will help you find success:
Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know’: While it’s always a good idea to have an answer to the majority of questions, it’s not uncommon for an interviewer to throw a curveball at you. If you truly don’t know the answer, say you don’t know. This shows self-awareness and an understanding of your limits.
Be concise: One of the hardest things to do is be informative and concise. Try to remain as focused as possible and avoiding going on tangents if you can. You want to respect the interviewer’s time and avoid rambling, which can lead you to saying something incorrect or unimportant.
Let your personality shine through: How you fit into the culture is just as important as your skill set. You want to give the employer an indication of your personality and work ethic, as this can help them understand if you’re a good fit for the position. Try to stay on topic but if you can offer context from your personal life, do it!
Be authentic: Always be authentic during your interview, as it’s very easy for interviewers to tell if you’re being dishonest or talking about things that you don’t really understand. Take your time when you’re answering questions – don’t be afraid to pause, collect your thoughts and provide an answer when you’re ready.
Don’t use icebreakers: Many people say icebreakers are great but more often than not, they fall flat and have the opposite effect. Let the interviewer guide the interview at the start, be polite and try not to tell any jokes or present any strong opinions – you don’t want to offend the people interviewing you and ruin the interview before it gets started.