Here at Intern Avenue, we know that attending a job interview can be a nerve-racking affair because you are so focused on not making a mistake. The truth is, interviews do not have to be stressful. In fact, the best interviews are the ones where you converse with the interviewer.
So how do you impress at an interview?
1. Dress smartly – For most companies both males and females should wear dark conservative suits. However, for some tech companies and startups, smart trousers, a shirt and a jumper is fine for males. For females, a dressy blouse with nice trousers or skirt will suffice. For more information read our blog on how to dress.
2. Be punctual – Arrive early, or on time, to the interview. Aim to get there around 10 minutes before the interview so that you can compose yourself and get acquainted to your surroundings and the company culture. If you get there too early, you may come across as being too eager, and you may also interrupt your interviewer.
3. First impressions matter – when you meet the interviewer for the first time, a firm handshake with a smile will get you off to a great start. When shown to your seat, stow your bags underneath the table. Avoid putting anything on the table. Do not even put your water bottle or phone on the table.
4. To Drink or not to drink – you should only accept a drink of water, if you need it. Accepting a cup of tea or coffee is not a good idea, since the interviewer will most likely be the one having to make it. You should never ask for alcohol!
5. Facial expressions matter – remember to smile and make eye contact. This makes you seem confident and will allow you to gage their reaction to what you say. For the more adventurous, you can even tailor your future answers to their reactions.
6. Do not panic – try to speak clearly and at a steady speed. Allow yourself a few seconds to think before answering questions. If you make a mistake pause, regain your composure and then clarify your previous comment. We all make mistakes and so do not allow one mistake to derail the rest of your interview.
7. Never lie – hiring someone, even on an entry-level wage, is a big investment for companies and they will do their research. They will call your references and check your qualifications. Avoid lying or over-exaggerating your experience since it will severely impact your future job prospects.
8. Ask well thought-out questions – it is always advisable to ask thought provoking questions at the end of the interview. A personal favourite, when being interviewed by small companies, is to ask where the company hopes to be in five years’ time. This will allow you to see if your personal career vision matches that of the company’s. Another good question is: “How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?”. For those of you who really want to stand out, you might even ask the interviewer “Is there any reason you feel I do not fit your needs?” as this gives you a chance to readdress any doubts they have.
9. Leave a good last impression – remember to thank the interviewer and shake their hand before you leave. On your way out, thank the receptionist who showed you in and anyone else who gave you directions. Making a good impression on the support staff may be the minor difference between yourself and another candidate.
10. Follow up – writing a personal letter to your interviewer to thank them for taking the time to see you will be seen as a nice gesture and definitely keep you in their thoughts. If it is not possible for you to physically post a letter, a short email will suffice.