You’ve worked hard on your job application, impressed at the initial stages, and now you’ve been invited for an interview – congratulations! You’ve come this far, and the new job is within touching distance.
But first – the interview. It’s natural to feel nervous in the lead up to an interview for a new role, particularly if you’re moving to a new company. You’re eager to impress and know that you only have one opportunity to do it.
Here we’ll share some tips – some practical, others concerning your attitude and mentality – to help you ace that interview and land your dream role.
Prepare, prepare, prepare – it’s the most crucial pre-interview stage you can take.
You want to give the best possible impression of yourself at the interview stage, and preparation is key to doing that. A well-prepped candidate will always come across well to the employer, not only because they know their stuff, but because they’ve clearly put in time to research the role, company and industry. That points to a hard-working, conscientious individual who knows how to take initiative.
Your preparation should also include anticipating which questions might come up, and thinking about how you would answer them. One question that is almost sure to come up is: “do you have any questions for us”? Have at least two or three questions prepared that delve into the details of the role or company strategy – make sure it’s not something that could be answered by searching the website!
Moreover, undertaking thorough preparation will make you feel confident. Conversely, if you haven’t done as much research as you would’ve liked, you might feel under-prepared, and less confident as a result.
2. Get things off to a smooth start.
Once you’re in the interview room, you have less control over how things develop. What you can control, however, is everything leading up to that moment.
Pick out your outfit the day before and ensure everything is washed and ironed. Choose something smart that makes you feel dressed to impress. However laid-back a company’s culture appears to be, never dress down for an interview unless it’s expressly suggested.
Make sure you know exactly where your interview is going to be and how to get there. Whether you’re driving or taking public transport, check the route and leave earlier than you need to. Have a contingency plan in place in case things go wrong.
Planning ahead and arriving with time to spare will help get you in the right headspace. If you arrive feeling stressed out or frazzled, it might be difficult to collect your thoughts before you go into the interview.
3. Calm your nerves.
Whilst nervousness is an emotion that forms in your mind, it can manifest itself physically. So when dealing with nervousness, it can be effective to target those physiological symptoms head on.
The best advice is to breathe deeply. You can do this inconspicuously whilst waiting to meet with your interviewer. Breathe in through the nose for 3 counts, hold for 3, and then exhale through your nose or mouth for 3 counts. Doing this even for just a few cycles helps to control your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Feeling physically calmer and more in control can help to keep you cool and focused.
4. Remember the interview is a two-way process
People tend to think of interviews as a test that they will either pass, or fail. That’s understandable.
But in fact, an interview is an opportunity for the recruiter to get to know you better, and decide whether you would be a good fit for the role and company culture. And that works both ways.
The interview is the stage at which you, the candidate, begin to have more agency. You will have the opportunity to meet the people you will be working with, perhaps to see the office, and ask questions. Whilst you’re there to impress, you’re also there to decide whether this is really the right role for you.
Just as it’s difficult to convey your individual qualities on a CV, it’s difficult for companies to convey their culture on a website or job posting. At the interview, you’re both assessing the other to see whether it’s a match.
5. Be yourself.
Clichéd as it may be, it’s crucial to be yourself.
Don’t put forward an inauthentic façade that you think is what the interviewer wants to see. They will be able to see through it, and it will undermine the purpose of the conversation – for both parties to learn more about the other.
Many interviewers favour an informal interview style, with some chit chat along the way. It’s fine to lean into that and let your personality shine through, as long as you never forget that you’re in a formal interview setting.
Hiring choices are made by taking into account a variety of factors. Your skills and experience have already been conveyed on your CV. What the interviewer wants to find out by meeting you is your personality – your attitudes, how you communicate, and how you work with others.
Being yourself at the interview stage is key to finding a role that’s right for you.
It’s understandable to feel nervous about an important interview. But remember your own value, and all of the skills and experience that make you a great candidate. It’s why you’ve been invited for an interview, after all! Instead of focusing on feelings of nervousness, allow your confidence to shine through and you’re sure to make a great impression.
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