So you’ve navigated the application minefield successfully and snagged yourself an interview or two, the hard part is over right? Not necessarily, you’ve got your foot in the door, now it’s time to make sure that the door won’t slam on your face, and although this may seem simple for some, for others this is where the real stress begins. No matter how confident you are of your abilities and suitability for the role, doubts and insecurities may creep in, you start questioning even the simplest of things; what do I wear? What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t find the interview location? Along with many other questions. Below are some interview dos and don’ts to help you on your path to your new career position.

Do dress smart. When going for a first interview you may be unsure of the company dress code and this may worry you. Don’t let it, always dress smart, suit, shirt, and tie for men, same for women, perhaps with a skirt if preferable, and black shoes for both, or an acceptable equivalent. If the job is something you know to be less formal, substitute jeans for that smart-casual look. Dressing smart ensures the employer sees that you are taking the job seriously, whether you end up dressing that way if you get the job doesn’t matter.

Don’t dress completely casual. No matter what the position, don’t turn up completely casual in, for example, jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of converse. If you look like you just fell out of bed into the pile of clothes on your bedroom floor, you’re in trouble. The interviewer may wonder why they should take you seriously if you don’t afford the interview process the same manner of respect.

Do your research. Although when you first apply for the position you may not know anything about the company, as is the way when dealing with a recruitment company, once offered an interview you should be given further information. Once you have this, research the company, look at their webpage, read the ‘About Us’ section, find how long they’ve been in business, who their business partners/clients are, and what the company ethos is. You don’t have to know everything about the company by heart, but being prepared will show your interviewer your dedication to the role, and they will more than likely ask you what you know about the company. Don’t be afraid to take notes with you, not pages and pages that you constantly have to look at, but the odd written note or highlighted printout used for reference, will show your interviewer you have done your homework, and may even impress them.

Don’t turn up completely unprepared. If an interviewer asks what you know about the company, or if you have researched them at all, and you respond with an awkward ‘nothing’ or ‘no’, then you might be in trouble. There is no excuse for not doing any research, even the smallest amount, and turning up to the interview completely unprepared will make your interviewer wonder about your interest in the role, and your dedication to attaining the position.

Do research and plan out your journey to the interview. You will have been given the address to the location of the interview, whether you know where it is or not, be prepared. Use one of the host of maps software available online, or your smartphone, and find out where the location is, how you can get there, and roughly how long it will take. If you have the opportunity, maybe even do a test run to familiarise yourself with the route to your interview, and gain an approximate idea of how long it will take. Take into account possible traffic and rush hour, and leave early giving yourself buffer time for any unforeseen circumstances, being 30 minutes early is better than 5 minutes late. If you get there way ahead of time, you can simply find somewhere to sit, have a coffee, read up on your research, and compose yourself.

Don’t be late! This may seem very superfluous to mention, however you would be surprised at the number of interviewers that have to deal with candidates turning up late. No matter how suitable you are on paper for the position, and how well you sell yourself, being late gives an extremely negative first impression, and first impressions are very important.

Do ask questions at the conclusion of the interview. There will always be a point where the interviewer will ask if you have any questions, and whether these are pre prepared, or based off what has been said, take the opportunity to ask some. Doing so will show that you have done your homework, but also demonstrates your interest and understanding of the company and the role that you are applying for.

Don’t ask about money, holidays, or the possibility of moving into another division/sector of the company. These types of questions show disinterest in the role that you are currently applying for, and make the interviewer think that you are only there for the paycheque, are already planning your days off, and really aren’t interested in the role itself. These are things that will all be explained in due time if you are called back for further interviews, or are offered the position, and aren’t something to be discussed in a first interview.

These are just a few things to help you through the interview process, most of all, sell yourself! The company has shown interest in you on paper, now is the time to make a good impression face to face, show them who you are, what you can do for them, and that you are the ideal candidate for the position.

Posted by Alexander Goodenough

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