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So you’ve put the hard work in with your application, and you’ve got the interview - nice one! But the thought of actually doing interviews is daunting for most of us, let alone if it’s your first job. To help you out, the CareerHacker team have brought together our 8 top tips to help you succeed and launch your career.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but knowing the practical arrangements of the interview like the back of your hand really helps with reducing stress on the day. Plan out your journey to the office on Google Maps as soon as you know where it will take place, and try and aim to arrive there 20-30 minutes before your time slot - this will give you time to relax, but also to give you some extra time if something out of your control makes you late.
If you are having a phone or Skype interview, planning ahead is equally important. Make sure you are in quiet surroundings with a good phone and internet connection, and if you are on screen, try and make sure there’s nothing distracting or inappropriate in the background!
First impressions are so important when employers meet you for interview, so our advice is to show them that you made an effort by dressing smartly. Wear smart trousers, skirt or a dress with a smart top or shirt, and don’t wear casual shoes. This is important even if you are interviewing at a company where they wear jeans and trainers every day, as it shows you’re committed to making a good first impression!
Nerves can make all of us slouch and look at the floor, but it’s important to try and make an effort not to do this! Make sure your handshake is firm, don’t chew gum, make eye contact and smile at everyone. Think about it if you were the interviewer - if someone came in who looked at the floor when talking to you and mumbled loads, would you get the impression that they really wanted the job?
Research the company’s values and vision - what do they do, who are their competitors, what do they want to achieve? Pick out something about the company that you really like so that you can talk about it during the interview and show you’ve done your research.
It’s also really important to know the job description well, so you have a good idea about what you would be doing day-to-day. You can also prepare some answers as to why you want to do that job and why you would be good at it!
Lots of the questions may be related to the job you are interviewing for, but there are tons of generic ones that will come up that you can practice - for example, we think an absolute must is preparing your strengths and weaknesses. How would you specifically apply your strengths to the job role? And when talking about weaknesses, don’t go for the overused ‘perfectionist’ or ‘you work too hard’. Think about how you can positively frame your answer by talking about how you’re already trying to improve, for example:
It can be really hard to stay focused when you’re nervous, so to help you give good answers at the same time as not rambling, you can use the STAR technique. When you are asked a question like ‘tell me about a time when you had to solve a problem’:
In my Saturday job, a customer came in who wanted a refund, but it was a sale item so we weren’t allowed to give them one.
I had to solve the problem of keeping to the shop’s rules while also making sure the customer was satisfied
I calmly explained that we could only give exchanges or credit notes on sale items, but took the time to show them some similar products and talk to them about their concerns
The customer left happily with a product in exchange and gave me some positive feedback about how I’d been very helpful
At the end of every single interview, the employer will ask if you have any questions for them. This is a great way to show you are really interested in the job and want to know more, and also to show off a little! Bring a notepad, and write down at least four questions beforehand to ask them, trying to stay away from areas like socials and salary, and more about the role or company itself. Good examples include:
Our final point is to remember not to doubt yourself and to stay calm and confident - before you go in, make sure you’re taking deep breaths to relax yourself. Interviews can be really scary, but you’ve got to that stage because the company specifically want to meet you - you’ve got this!