How to Get Ahead In Your Next Interview

You’ve navigated countless job websites, you’ve filled out the ten page application form and you’ve been selected for an interview. The hard bit is over, right?

In today’s economic climate, interviews are more competitive than ever. In some parts of the UK, as many as 30 people apply for every vacancy, which means you’ve got to do whatever you can to not only stand out from the crowd, but impress your interviewer if selected.

There are lots of important things you need to do to make sure you’re fully prepared for your next interview. From learning about the company you’re applying for or turning up to the interview on time, impressing your next employer on the day of the interview takes a lot of thought and preparation.

To help you on your way, here are some of our tried and tested techniques when it comes to shining in an interview:

Before the interview

Preparation is key. You’ve probably heard the term “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” countless times, but people say it for a reason.

Prepare for an interview in the best possible way, and suddenly it all becomes a lot less scary. You’re less nervous because you’ve got loads of pre-prepared answers for the inevitable “tricky” questions that invariably pop up. You arrive on time because you already know where to go in the morning before being lost in rush hour traffic. You look the part after ironing your suit the night before. These things matter, and they will make a huge difference to your composure, your chemistry with the interviewer and your overall ability to think on your feet.

Preparation is everything:

  • Research into the company: Before your interview, do your research. Learn about the company’s history, the staff at the business, their latest projects. Have they just released a new product? What is it? What are your thoughts on it? Impressing the interview panel with your knowledge on their latest developments shows them that you care about them, which can only be a positive.
  • Find out where the interview is: This in an obvious one, yet not everyone does it. It doesn’t matter whether the location of the interview is a short or long drive, bus or long train journey away, planning your route and travelling to the interview location ahead of time saves you a whole heap of stress on the day of the interview. You don’t want to be held up by roadworks and getting lost on the day.
  • Dress appropriately: For most job interviews we’d recommend a suit, but thats not always the case, so dress appropriately for the interview and industry you work in. Dressing appropriately for your industry is one thing, but whatever industry you work in, you need to make sure your outfit fits. Arrive at an interview in a suit that is too big or too small, and you’ll start to feel uncomfortable straight away. This is going to affect your poise and composure, so as important as it is to be smart, it’s just as important to be comfortable.

The big day

Items to bring with you: Your new suit is ironed and fits perfectly, you’ve arrived at the interview with enough time to sit down and relax, and you’ve brought everything you needed to bring. But what should you bring? Bringing spare copies of your CV might seem obvious, but rushing out the door solely focused on getting to the interview on time makes it so easy to forget such things. To help you out on the big day, here’s what you should bring with you:

  • Spare copies of your CV: just in case the interviewer hasn’t printed yours off.
  • Notepad: writing down any interviewer answers will make you look astute and interested.
  • Pen/pencil: because you need to write down those answers somehow.
  • Bottle of water: don’t assume interviewers will provide you with a drink. Bring your own just in case.

Top questions to ask:

You can answer all the questions that the interviewer throws at you, but if you’re caught open-mouthed when they ask you if you’ve got any questions for them, you’ve blown it. Asking questions during the interview is incredibly important as it shows an interest in the company and the people interviewing you, but it also shows that you’re not afraid to step forward to get what you want.

Make sure to ask questions that you genuinely want answers to (within reason; don’t ask how trustworthy the members of staff are). Here are some example questions to get you started:

  • What training/induction will I receive?
  • What are the main responsibilities for this job?
  • Would I be involved in any other projects within the company on a one-off basis?
  • Who would I have most contact with either within the company or clients/suppliers?
  • What are the company’s plans for the future and how would these affect my role?
  • Where are the opportunities for future progression or personal development within the company?

When the interview is over:

  • Get feedback: If you’re not successful and don’t get the job, there’s still more to gain from this opportunity. No matter how well or poorly you think the interview went, it’s essential for you to ask for feedback. Getting honest feedback from interviewers will enable you to plug any possible skills gaps, work on your questions or prepare your answers better. Failing to get feedback will only leave you making the same mistakes for future interviews, so be sure to ask what went wrong after your interview.

Author: Oliver Adderley is Managing Director of Jobs Direct.

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