If there were something as scary as skydiving from a plane, being asked the “tell me about yourself” question by a group of strangers in a formal setting could be it.
Luckily, we have prepared a list of tips to help you to stay relaxed, maintain focus and make your next interview an outstanding accomplishment.
What types of interviews should I expect?
First, it is paramount to understand what the most common types of interview and their salient features are.
Over the phone
This kind of interview is generally chosen by employers at the beginning of an application process. It is a particularly useful way for recruiters and employers to sieve out a high number of candidates and bring it down to a more manageable level.
Telephone interviews are typically under 30 minutes in duration. If you are successful at this stage, you will most likely be invited to a face-to-face interview.
This is an age-old, yet still quite common way to interview candidates.
In-person interviews usually take place at the employer’s workplace. This type of interview is essentially a professional conversation between a candidate and their potential employer.
It is your opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and competences. You might sometimes experience some exercises or a test, which can precede or follow the interview itself.
Face-to-face interviews can be held by either an individual or a panel. Note that you might also share your interview with other candidates; group interviews are substantially a way for employers to assess your teamwork and communication skills.
Video interviews are becoming progressively popular, particularly during unprecedented times like the Covid-19 pandemic we are currently living through. Many people worry that a virtual interview will feel awkward and uncomfortable. We recommend approaching a virtual interview in the same way you would a face-to-face interview: Be prepared, punctual and presentable.
Online interviews can be live or pre-recorded with a set of questions. They typically last about 45 minutes.
Employers can sometimes choose this type of evaluation to assess your skills. You would normally spend a day or two at the centre with other candidates and go through presentations, group exercises and psychometric tests, which are used to get an idea of your personality, knowledge, and general skills.
Assessment centres are commonly used in the recruitment process for graduate schemes, where employers expect large volumes of candidates to apply.
How to secure an excellent first impression
Even though preparing for an interview can make you nervous, you can steady your nerves by following a few simple steps that will help you to gain confidence and appear professional.
Wearing appropriate clothing
What should you wear on one of the most important days of your professional life?
Simply put, it depends on the organisation and the role you have applied for. Many employers require a smart dress code for candidates, whereas others do not particularly mind whether you are dressed in smart attire.
Try and make your own judgement on the culture of the company you are applying to work for. In particular, consider its size and industry.
Alternatively, if you cannot get an idea of what to wear on your interview day, it would not be unreasonable to ask before attending. This will show your potential employer how thoughtful you are about the profile of their company.
Being late at your interview can unleash negative atmosphere. Your potential employer will not get a good impression. Similarly, arriving late can increase your stress levels, and consequently set you up for failure.
Mastering body language and showing positivity
Whether you are meeting the employer in person or online, remember to sit in a respectful manner and without leaning on any desk or furniture that might be around you.
Maintain eye contact with the interviewer and frequently show them positive attitudinal traits, such as smiling or using a positive and engaging tone of voice.
Be clear and concise
Remember that most of the questions you are asked at an interview have a purpose. Your potential employer’s first and foremost priority is to find out how your skills are relevant to the job.
It is acceptable to take a short moment before answering a difficult question. Think again about the company’s culture and the job description. Once you have your answer, do not speak too quickly.
For further support, visit our guide to job application tips, which includes tailored advice on writing a stand-out CV, cover letter and how to find a reference.