There’s no denying that job interviews can be stressful, but they really don’t have to be. They are an important part of career progression and something that we should really embrace, but this is much easier said than done.
Follow these 15 top tips for 2023 and make the best of your next job interview.
Before the Interview
1. Do your research
In the days leading up to your interview you’ll need to familiarise yourself with the company and the role. It’s also good to do some research into your interviewer, or interviewers, if you know who they are.
This information will inform the flow of conversation and, while your interviewer won’t expect you to know all of the company’s ins and outs, they will undoubtedly expect a basic understanding of the company and role that you applied for.
2. Know your experience
You’ll also want to familiarise yourself with your CV and any work examples that you want to share. You should be comfortable answering questions about your background, education, previous roles, skills, interests and anything else you’ve included in your CV.
This is one of the few topics that you know for a fact will be discussed in the interview and you should be well-prepared to answer the questions that your interviewer will have.
Prepare answers for the typical interview questions, as well as questions that are likely to come up based on the role. Try to have a few examples ready for each of the key skills and responsibilities detailed in the job description.
3. Dress appropriately
In the past, it’s been standard practice to dress professionally for an interview, regardless of how formal or informal the role is.
Today, things can be slightly more ambiguous, as it’s more common for offices to have a casual dress code. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should dress casually for your interview, but it might suggest that “smart-casual” would be acceptable.
A good rule is to always dress professionally unless explicitly told otherwise by your interviewer. If you’re not sure, always overdress rather than underdress. Your interviewer won’t mind if you wear office shoes when you could’ve worn trainers, but they will mind if you wear trainers when you should’ve worn office shoes.
4. Be punctual
Your interviewer will be looking for someone punctual to fill their role and the interview is your first opportunity to show that you are that person. If you are late to an interview (even with a reasonable excuse) it’s a pretty good sign that you’d probably be late for work.
According to StandOut CV, 84% of interviewers regard lateness as the worst possible interview offence. So you cannot afford to be late!
Truth be told, you can’t really afford to be on time either, as this gives the impression that you might have been late had any unforeseen circumstances arisen, so it’s important to be early.
Being 10-15 minutes early shows effective timekeeping and organisation, both desirable qualities in a potential employee. It also helps to create a relaxed atmosphere before your interview even begins.
5. Remember where you are going and why
There’s an old anecdote about an interviewer crossing paths with an obnoxious stranger on the morning of an interview, only to later find that same stranger sitting in their waiting room.
Assume that your entire journey will be filled with people connected to the business and, put simply, be nice to them. This could be as simple as smiling, driving considerately, or stopping to hold the lift for someone.
This is particularly true once you arrive at the office as, according to the Recruiter Nation report, 62% of recruiters would dismiss a candidate for being rude to support staff like the office receptionist. So your interactions with people before your interview could be the difference between getting the job or not.
Generally just being nice, polite and professional should do the trick here.
During the Interview
6. Be aware of your body language
Your body language willhave a significant impact on how you come across in your interview, so it’s important that you’re aware of it from the moment you arrive.
Here are some body language basics.
- Sit upright and don’t lean on the wall, table or back of your chair.
- Maintain an open stance, with your arms uncrossed.
- Maintain eye contact for a few seconds at a time, particularly when answering questions.
- Try not to fidget.
7. Pay attention
It can be off-putting to feel like you’re struggling to maintain someone’s attention and making your interviewer feel this way will make a really bad impression.
Checking your phone, looking around the room, or reading while your interviewer is talking are all signs that you’re not fully present in the conversation and will likely irritate your interviewer, even if they don’t say so.
Pay attention to what your interviewer is saying. You’ll gain a better understanding of the things they tell you and be better placed to answer their questions effectively.
8. Slow down
It’s common for people to speak quickly when they are nervous as a subconscious attempt to end an awkward situation as soon as possible. It’s important that you try to slow down, so you have time to properly process questions and give well-thought-out answers.
While consciously speaking slowly might feel awkward, you’ll actually be speaking at a normal pace from your interviewer’s perspective. Speaking with this more relaxed and controlled pace highlights your confidence, which will increase your interviewer’s confidence in your skills and knowledge.
9. Talk less, listen more
Interviewers will use silence to get more information out of a candidate. It’s a simple technique; they ask a question and listen to the answer but remain silent for a few seconds after you have finished speaking. People find silence uncomfortable, so our instincts tell us to continue talking in order to fill that silence. Don’t!
If you’ve answered the question to the best of your ability, anything else you say will just be waffle at best and may actually work against you if you unknowingly say something you shouldn’t.
Instead of talking, listen. You’ll find out more about the company, the role and your interviewer, and you’ll be able to word your answers more deliberately as a result.
10. Be enthusiastic
One of the most common interview questions is “why do you want this job?” because interviewers want to ensure that candidates are genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about the role.
It is painfully obvious when someone is uninterested and, according to StandOut CV, 4 in 10 employers would reject a candidate for showing a lack of enthusiasm in their interview. So it’s important that you show genuine enthusiasm for the role that you’ve applied for.
Ross Pike, Operations Director at Quadrant2Design said “Enthusiasm is one of the most important qualities in a candidate. Someone who’s passionate, but relatively inexperienced, can quite easily outshine someone with more experience but less enthusiasm, because they’re more likely to put the work in to fill the gaps in their knowledge”.
Only apply for positions that you’d actually want to be offered. Then in your interview, you can show your passion and enthusiasm by smiling, talking about examples and asking as many questions as possible.
11. Ask about the company
It’s easy to get caught up talking about yourself and how good you’d be for the role but you should also be deciding if the job and company are right for you. The best way to find this out is to ask questions.
Almost all interviews will include an opportunity for you to ask questions. It is vital that you ask something, as not asking anything can be seen as a sign that you’re either not interested or are so desperate for a job that the answers don’t really matter – neither are impressions you want to give your interviewer.
Good questions to ask include
- What would you expect from me in my first 3/6 months in the role?
- What are the career progression opportunities?
- What would a typical week include in this role?
- Can you tell me more about the team I’d be working in?
12. Don’t lie
It’s amazing how many candidates lie on their CV or during the interview process. Lying will almost always come back to bite you and makes for a very awkward conversation once you’re found out. It’s also a colossal waste of everyone’s time!
Candidates who lie are typically afraid that the truth would disqualify them from the role, but this is not always the case. Being honest about any shortfalls in your experience or knowledge will likely inspire respect and trust from your interviewer and, most importantly, it will allow the company to provide the right level of support and training should you be successful.
After the Interview
13. Thank your interviewer
This is just common courtesy really. Your interviewer has taken time out of their day to give you an opportunity, so it’s polite to thank them for their time.
14. Remember where you are
Similar to before the interview, don’t forget where you are just because the interview is over. Be mindful of how you leave the premises and be nice, polite and respectful to everyone you come into contact with.
15. Follow up
Follow up a few days after the interview. If you forgot to thank your interviewer this is a good opportunity to do so. Drop in a few details from the interview to show that you were paying attention and enquire about the next stages of the interview process. After a positive interview, following up can be the difference between landing the job or not.
So there you have it, fifteen top tips for a job interview in 2023. Follow these tips and you should sail through your interview and land your next big role.