Preparing for interviews
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression and making sure your appearance is appropriate should be a priority as you prepare for an interview.
It’s crucial to get the balance right between looking professional and blending in at an organisation – a shirt and smart trousers may be too casual, yet a sharp suit may be too much.
A charity is likely to be more casual than a City institution. However, until you are sure, it’s better to be safe and pick an outfit slightly more formal than anything which could be described as “business casual”. Trainers, jeans and t-shirts should be avoided, along with anything more appropriate for a beach or a nightclub than an office.
If necessary, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance once you receive your interview offer and it doesn’t hurt to do a bit of research if you can.
Test your outfit before the big day and make sure you are comfortable and that everything is clean and well-pressed. You won’t make a good impression if you are fidgeting with an awkward collar or struggling with an unforgiving waistband. You should wear your clothes, rather than your clothes wearing you – let them support, not overwhelm you.
NEVER arrive late to an interview. Allow extra time for factors like getting lost or transport delays. Even if you know the area you may not know the exact location of a particular street or building. Enter the building about 10 minutes before the interview. If arriving late is inevitable, please call Rayner Personnel or your interviewer to explain that you will be late. It is equally important, however, not to arrive too early for an interview - a busy interviewer will not appreciate being disturbed half an hour before a scheduled meeting.
Researching the company before the interview and learning as much as possible about its services, geographical area and competition will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company’s needs. Always check the company website - the more you know about a company the stronger your chance of success.
Candidates should always dress professionally for interviews. Even if the company has a casual dress code, interviewees should dress in a smart business suit. It is always better to be too smart than too casual. Before the interview, select your outfit and check for stains and creases. Equal attention should be paid to personal hygiene. You should also avoid strong smelling food, drink and perfume before an interview.
First impressions are very important. A firm handshake, a smile and plenty of eye contact are essential to demonstrate confidence. All interviewers are different: adapt your approach according to the interviewer’s personality whilst remaining professional at all times. Speak clearly in a confident voice, even though you may feel nervous.
During the interview sit up straight and do not slouch. Maintain regular eye contact and avoid fidgeting. Too many hand movements will make you appear nervous and will distract from what you are actually saying.
This is often forgotten as candidates are too worried about selling themselves and talking about their experiences. Make sure you listen carefully to the questions being asked. Never interrupt or talk over the interviewer.
Answer the Question Asked
Remain relevant and do not feel rushed to answer. Candidates often make the mistake of not actually answering the question. Make sure you understand what is being asked, especially if you are not being interviewed in your mother tongue, and get further clarification if you are unsure. Try to avoid vague stories about your background but do give examples that highlight your successes and uniqueness. Answer honestly and try to remain positive. If you must give a negative answer try to follow with a positive statement.
Many interviewees don’t ask questions and miss the opportunity to find out valuable information. Your questions indicate your interest in the company or job. An interview should be a two way discussion, an opportunity for you to find out about the company and the position as well as for the potential employer to assess your suitability for the role. Try to save some questions for the end of the interview.