Congratulations, your CV efforts have paid off and you got to the interview stage! A big chunk of the competition is out of the way, but this is not the time to get over-confident and relax. It’s time to step up your game. Keep in mind that the candidates you are competing with now are the best of the lot. So what can you do to ensure that you get through the next stage and bag your dream job? Well, most hiring managers will agree that preparation is the most decisive factor for interview success. Yet research shows that only 1 in 10 candidates actually prepares for an interview! Surprising, when you stop to consider that an interview could potentially be a life-changing moment. Even more so when our recent research shows that interviews are the most dreaded part of the job search process.

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Preparation begets confidence 

Prepare yourself, and you will walk through that door a little more self-assured and confident in the knowledge that you have done all you can. You’re already brimming with confidence? Still prepare! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can wing it. A seasoned interviewer will be looking at your attitude and not just your skills and experience, and according to many, taking the next steps will improve your chances enormously.

#tip 1 – Research, research…and research some more

First things first. If the company is the employer of your dreams, chances are that you already know quite a bit about it. But this is usually not the case, especially if you are applying at several different companies. Firstly, study their website. Find out what services they offer, sure, but go beyond that. Read their blog to learn what their latest news is – what they are working on or if they’ve won any awards. Then, Google the company – has it featured in any other media? What the current industry trends? This will show your enthusiasm, interest and level of preparation. It will also give you a few ideas about what questions you could ask. Take a look at the LinkedIn company page too – see the set up and if you feel that you could fit in with the employees there.

#tip 2 – Look the part

So now you’ve learnt a bit more about the company culture you can dress the part. You may think this is frivolous. After all, what’s an outfit compared to your invaluable experience and never-ending qualifications? Well, it’s human nature. Research shows that first impressions are made in seconds… and they stick. The wrong clothes could give the employer the, (often subconscious), impression that you might not quite fit into the company culture. Pick the appropriate outfit a day before, (this also goes for video interviews, as being at home is not a reason to sit for your interview in pyjama bottoms) and have it ready to go, cleaned and ironed. Make sure it’s something that fits well, doesn’t need to be tugged at or make you feel self-conscious. And smile!

#tip 3 – The interview starts and ends outside the room

Take the opportunity to make a good impression before you even get there. Sure you can… by the way you respond to the interviewer’s email or phone call when they get in touch to tell you you’ve reached round 2! So watch how you answer your phone (you may not recognise the number), call back as soon as possible if you miss the call, and don’t leave an email hanging for more than 24 hours. This is your chance to let your soft skills shine so don’t waste it. Once the interview is ended, many hiring managers agree that a follow up email, thanking the interviewer for the time and opportunity, goes a long way in increasing your chances and helping you to stand out.

#tip 4 – Time it well

It goes without saying that you should be on time, and in this case being on time means 5 – 10 minutes earlier. This applies whether you are doing an in-person interview or a virtual one. If the former, make sure that you know where you have to go and the route you have to take beforehand. Get a rough idea of how long it will take you to get there and allow enough time for traffic. If the latter, use a laptop. A phone or tablet is not ideal unless on a tripod. Be sure to allocate enough time for the set up. Choose a quiet environment and test the audio, video and link. Not having to worry about where to go or if the audio is ok at the last minute will avoid you getting stressed over things that are not about the interview. You don’t want to arrive looking flustered so get organised, arrive on time and focus on what’s important.

#tip 5 – Practise…but listen first

Most of us know what questions are usually asked in an interview. Having a clear idea about how you would answer them could avoid you getting stage fright. However, don’t get stuck on what you’ve practised to the point of being unable to answer anything else! Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions. Sometimes they do like to throw a curveball, just to see how you can handle something unexpected. So rather than practising whole paragraphs of answers by heart, make bullet points and tie them in where relevant. Read the job description thoroughly and think of a few situations you have experienced that best demonstrate that you have the skills they require.

Good luck! Keep following our blog to get more tips for job search success!