If you’re studying with us, you likely have an end goal after qualifying, whether that’s further education or career development. We know you’ve worked incredibly hard to achieve your qualifications, so now we want to help you prepare to ace your job interview.
Research suggests that it only takes two seconds for someone to make their first impression of you. So, although you may have rehearsed a dozen answers for typical interview questions, how do you prepare to make an impression? Well, it's all about the details, and we've covered the secrets to sealing the deal in our top ten interview tips below…
1. Arrive early for your interview.
Our first interview tip is the most important one. Always arrive early… but not too early! We surveyed over 500 people who recruit regularly and found that 41% of interviewers hate when candidates show up late. It's the largest pet peeve when it comes to making a first impression. Comparatively, only 2% of the interviewers we spoke to dislike it when a candidate arrives early.
There's definitely a sweet spot, and we think it's around the 10-minute mark. This is because the company will see you as a timely person eager for the job, but they won't have to worry about entertaining you for a long time whilst you wait for your interview.
Arriving early means you’re there in case you need to fill in any forms or find your way to the office. Plus, leaving earlier than necessary also allows for problems such as getting lost or stuck in traffic.
2. Smile to leave a lasting impression.
The best thing you can wear to an interview is a smile. Hold your smile as you hold good posture, leaving people around you with the impression that you’re friendly and confident. And just remember, we are human, which means the most important thing that connects us to others is our natural empathy.
What’s more, if you’re feeling nervous, a smile will flex your facial muscles and trick your brain into thinking you’re happy and comfortable, instantly triggering relaxing hormones.
So remember, a smile will always ground you and connect you with your interviewers. Once that connection is established, everything else will flow naturally. Your ease and confidence will make you look like a natural team player, someone that the company wants around.
3. Dress smart for your job interview.
Underneath your most radiant smile should be a clean and professional outfit. Now, we're not suggesting you buy a designer suit, but details matter. So much so that 23% of our survey respondents told us that inappropriate clothing or shoes is a massive problem. So pay attention to how you prepare your outfit, ensuring you don't have creases or stains on clothes or scuffs on your shoes.
If the role you're applying for has a casual dress policy or a specific uniform, you might think the way you dress for your interview is irrelevant. However, you'd be wrong! A smart outfit can leave a lasting impression of you just as profoundly as a scruffy one can.
The way you present yourself shows whether you pay attention to detail and appear professional. In addition, it shows that you've made an effort, which suggests you are serious about getting the job.
4. Relax your body language.
Did you know that 80% of all communication is through body language rather than what you say? The best thing about it is that it's a natural communication that simply reflects your mood. So how do you control this? By deciding on your frame of mind.
You don’t need to overthink it; your natural mood will do the talking. Just practice calming thoughts and breathing techniques beforehand to get your mind and body in a confident place.
You’ll notice that if your arms are loose, you can talk more with your hands. And when your back is straight, you can talk more with your eyes which are focused and direct.
It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious, but you’ll find that letting your shoulders drop will ease the tension in your whole body. If you’re comfortable to be around, you’ll make a great first impression in your interview.
5. Listen before you speak.
So often, people prepare a list of things to say and are in a hurry to say it all in one go. Instead, it's better to listen to what is being asked of you and break it down into a backwards-and-forwards discussion. Our survey showed that talking too much could work against you at an interview, so be sure to listen carefully to the question and try not to lose focus and go off on a tangent.
A considered response is always more enlightening and makes a strong impression. Unfortunately, most interview tips and tricks focus on what to say, but the secret lies in listening and adapting your response accordingly.
6. Wait until it's your turn.
On that note, you may be ready to answer a question, but don’t jump in too soon. If you start talking before the interviewer has finished talking himself, it’s just rude and shows a lack of patience.
It’s common to talk too fast or jump into the conversation too soon if you’re trying to hide your nerves and appear confident. However, this has the opposite effect as it makes you look inconsiderate and unengaged in the conversation.
Furthermore, allowing a silent pause before you speak actually shows that you have listened carefully and you’re thinking about the right answer, rather than offering any answer for the sake of having one. Effective communication is about knowing how to go with the flow.
7. Be kind.
Remember to be kind where kindness is relevant, offering thanks, support, or compliments that you genuinely think or feel. However, don’t force it if it doesn’t naturally flow into your conversation.
For example, complimenting your interviewer on their hairstyle might not be appropriate (unless you’re interviewing at a salon)… but praising them for the scale of the business they run, the atmosphere of the office, or previous achievements they mention would be relevant.
It comes down to simply showing an interest in what you think would be a good place to work. You can have all the right qualifications and skills on paper but miss out on the role to somebody that was nicer to talk to. This is because businesses hire people, not robots. Your kindness might be the reason you're an excellent manager in the future, so let that part of your personality shine.
8. Research the company before your interview.
Now, this tip sounds like homework, and that’s because it is! You should always research the business you are applying to in detail leading up to the interview.
Why? Well, for one, 11% of the interviewers we surveyed dislike when candidates are unable to answer questions about the company. Secondly, knowing facts about the company will help you explain why you want to work for them.
What’s more, it shows that you are a forward-thinker who prepares for situations in advance. Plus, it will help you steer the conversation; for example, you could ask a question about the history of the business, mentioning that you discovered they were founded however many years ago. Just showing an interest in this fact may lead you to talk about your experience working for start-ups or scale-up businesses, or perhaps you have experience with long-standing brands. If it’s relevant, bring it up.
9. Have an example of every skill you discuss.
For every skill or strength you have, prepare an example to showcase how you action it in the workplace. For example, maybe you are an excellent public speaker, so you led a seminar at a conference or event in the past.
Perhaps you are good at resolving conflict, and at a previous job, you were in charge of delegating responsibilities to team members based on their different interests.
Whether it’s business skills or vocational skills, your experience has to be built on practice or some sort of exposure that led you to this interview. The point is that if you say you are good at something, it’s easier for the interviewer to understand if you explain why you are good at it. That way, they can visualise you working in their team. This might be the most important of all our interview tips to remember.
10. Talk about your personal values.
Most people think they need to spend their interviews talking about their experience and skills. The secret is to highlight your values, the kind that makes you and connects you with others and your sense of purpose.
Bear in mind; we don't mean political, debatable or controversial values (which are to be left out of the office even after getting the job). We mean the values that influence your decisions and goals. Showcasing your values will reflect what makes you passionate about your career, a highly admired trait in employees.
Finally, the values you draw attention to should be appropriate to the industry you're applying to work in. For example, we have many learners enrolled on our childcare and teaching courses, and discussing their values in an interview will positively reflect how they will inspire a classroom of children.
Whatever your dream job is, following your passions and staying true to yourself will get you there. If you're one of our students, you've put in the hard work; now it's time to put your knowledge into practice and ace your job interview!
If you want to be even more prepared, try our short interview skills course to learn everything you need to know to land your dream job.