10 Best Job Interview Tips
Once you’ve written a stand-out cover letter and nabbed yourself a job interview, the application process starts to feel very real. But don’t worry – we’re here to make sure you blow them away.
When you think of job interviews, you might be conjuring up thoughts of a particularly painful episode of The Apprentice. But, they really aren’t all that bad (we promise).
Remember that your interviewers are hoping to find their ideal candidate, so they want you to do well – it makes zero sense for them to try to trip you up. A little bit of plan and prep is all you need to walk into your interview brimming with confidence, and the rest will fall into place.
How to succeed in a job interview
Follow these tips on what to do before, during, and after job interviews to really impress employers:
1. Research the role, company, and industry
Turning up for an interview without being armed with interesting things to say about the company or sector as well as yourself and your work experience is the easiest mistake to make.
Do some research by looking carefully at the company website, following their social media accounts, and googling them to see if you can find any press coverage or even a company blog.
A pro tip is to set up a Google Alert for the company name so that you get any relevant news about them straight to your inbox.
2. List your skills that are most relevant to the role
Now you’ve done your research on the company and sector, it’s time to start thinking about which aspects of your skillset and experience are directly relevant to the company and the job role.
Read through the job description, pull out the most important parts and make a list.
Next to each point, write down any parts of your own cv or things about yourself that come to mind that you know demonstrate you have something to offer that directly relates to each point.
3. Prepare your own questions
The questions you ask at the end of an interview are so important, both to give you the opportunity to find out more, and also to show the interviewer that you’re engaged, inquisitive, and keen to learn about the role and company.
Being able to ask interesting questions is as important as answering them, so take the time to prepare a few.
Just make sure you don’t ask anything that’s already been covered in the interview, or it’ll seem like you weren’t listening.
4. Wake up early on the morning of your interview
An obvious one we know, but we’ll say it anyway: get up extra early on the morning of your interview.
If you have time, go for a run or to the gym to wake yourself up and get those endorphins going – this will calm the jitters and give you a confidence boost.
You should also aim to give yourself enough time to sit down for breakfast before leaving for the interview. We know that when you’re nervous before an interview, it can sometimes be hard to eat, but try to have as good a meal as you can.
You don’t have to go all out with a full English, but try to eat a bit of brain food beforehand – we recommend a bowl of cereal, some fruit, toast, and a cup of tea or coffee. You could also take an apple with you to fight those mid-morning hunger pains.
5. Plan out the interview day in advance
Planning everything in advance will put your mind at ease and ensure nothing goes wrong on the day.
Choose what you’re going to wear (wearing smart work clothes but nothing too formal will give a good impression) at least a couple of days before the interview.
This will cancel out any potentially disastrous moments where you realize your lucky shirt has a massive blob of ketchup down the front and you need to wash it last minute in a blind panic.
We’d recommend also carefully planning out your journey to the interview and even testing out the route if you have time. It’s always better to turn up early (at least five minutes early!) than it is to be late, so make sure to leave some extra time.
6. Try to stay calm during your interview
Try to calm your nerves on the day by not obsessing about what’s ahead too much. After all that great prep you’ve been doing over the last few days, there’s not much more you’ll achieve by thinking about it incessantly – that will only make you more nervous.
Always remember that it’s normal for you to get a bit nervous and most employers will expect you to be!
7. Answer opening interview questions concisely
The interview will likely start with a few general opening questions, and as easy as these questions might seem, they can throw you off if you haven’t prepared adequately. Usually, job interviews will start with a generic opening question like “could you tell me a bit about yourself?”. When asked this, try not to launch into your entire life story, as this isn’t what they’re asking.
8. Use examples to answer competency-based questions
You can expect that the follow-on questions from the opening ones will then draw on examples and experiences to test your key competencies. This is where your preparation will really start to pay off. Many employers report that a lot of candidates lack a wide range of examples and are too vague in interviews. Interviewers don’t want to hear about what you’ve been doing at university for every question, so if you want to stand out in a job interview, think outside the box by using examples from your life outside of education and at previous part-time jobs.
9. Handle difficult interview questions confidently
If a difficult question comes up, there’s no hard and fast rule for handling it. It’s easier said than done in a high-pressure interview environment, but try to stay calm and just answer the question as best you can. Here are some top tips on how to answer difficult interview questions:
Answer the question directly (avoid waffling and going off on a tangent)
Give clear and tangible examples when you can
Show you’ve thought about how your current skills are relevant/transferable to the job
As well as talking about your strengths, highlight that you’re keen to continue learning and improving in a new role.
10. Thank interviewers in a follow-up email
Once the interview is over, there are still a few things you can do to give yourself an advantage over other candidates in securing the job. A follow-up email to thank the employer for seeing you and giving you their time is always a good idea and will keep you at the forefront of their minds. If you haven’t heard back from them in two weeks or more, send an email or phone them to ask for feedback. Even if you didn’t get the job this time, remember that every interview is a learning experience and you’ll only get better and better at it each time you walk into an interview.
The last thing to say is simply… good luck!