The top 10 things you must do before going for a job interview
1 Find out about the company
One of the main reasons for people not being offered jobs is that they didn’t know enough about the company they had applied to. “Find out as much as you can about the company beforehand,” advises Suzie Britton, director of recruitment consultant Magenta. “Websites are a good source of information.” The annual report will give you an idea of the projects the firm has been doing and where, and if you turn up early for the interview and ask the receptionist not to announce you for a while, you can read any publicity material the firm has on display.
2 Find out about the job
“Get as much information about the role as possible before the interview,” says Britton. “You can then demonstrate when you have used the skills required.” There’s no point going on about your experience at answering the phone when you were temping in your holidays if the job involves spending four days a week on site; better to talk about the people-management skills you gained as captain of a sports team.
3 Think of things to ask
“Prepare a list of insightful questions,” suggests Britton. “That way you can ascertain whether it is the right company and role.” Don’t be scared to ask about pay and benefits but you could also ask about what skills the interviewer thinks are needed for the job (and then say how you’ve demonstrated those skills) and what the last person who did it is doing now, for instance. Write your questions down if you need to.
4 Prepare for common questions
Some questions come up so much that it’s worth pre-preparing answers. The website www.workingsmart.co.uk has a long list including “What has been your main achievement?”, “What motivates you?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Use the answers to show positive qualities about yourself, for instance “my main achievement was a sponsored parachute jump because not only did I raise money for charity, I also overcame my fear and learned the value of preparing well before I take a calculated risk”. That sort of thing.
5 Get a haircut
These days you don’t necessarily have to lop off the ponytail you’ve been growing since you left school, but appearances do matter and a messy barnet will do you no favours, whatever the length. Also, get your suit dry-cleaned, polish your shoes, iron your shirt and sort out your clothes the night before so you don’t have to run around in the morning looking for matching socks.
6 Learn about yourself
“Know your CV and all the details on your application form, if you had to complete one, so you will be able to speak confidently about your background,” says Britton. Be able to account for any gaps in your CV’s timeline.
7 Dig out your paperwork
Find your qualification certificates the night before to take with you, and any projects or presentations you are going to use to impress the interviewer. Pack a few copies of your CV to take with you, to jog your memory and to give to the interviewer – you’d be amazed how often they’ve lost the copy you sent them.
8 Get an early night
Bags under your eyes and hangover breath won’t impress anyone, so have a good night’s sleep. But don’t forget to set your alarm.
9 Get up early
Nothing says “I’m unreliable” like turning up half an hour late, so allow plenty of time for the vagaries of public transport. Britton suggests doing a trial run the day before. Allow time to have a shower, a shave and a good breakfast.
10 Go to the toilet
Nobody gives their best first impression with a nervous bladder, so while you’re waiting, use the facilities – and check your teeth for any bits of food that might have got stuck there. Last but not least, dry your hands well so you don’t end up with a clammy handshake.