My first real job was as a waitress in a little country hotel in the South West of Ireland. I was fifteen years old and on my first day I spilled half a tea pot of boiling water on a customers’ lap – true story.
In the 11 years since that awful, awful day; I have held different positions in various industries including in Customer Service, Sales & Marketing and Human Resources. I have been witness to far too many interviews that have just crashed and burned within moments of the applicant setting foot inside the door and have therefore compiled a list of tips that will hopefully help you through your next job interview.
1- Get the Address right: Double and triple check it if you have to. If you are like me and get lost crossing the street, Google Maps is your best friend at this time. Hit print on that baby and put the precious copy of the interview location in your handbag/ man-bag/ suit coat pocket.
2- Arrive early: I know of situations where applicants have arrived to their interview only five minutes late and the interview was cancelled. Arriving late for your very first meeting with a potential employer is certainly not a good indication of your reliability. Take traffic, weather, and parking conditions into consideration, then add an extra five minutes to your journey time just in case.
3- Dress for Success: Dress professionally. Yes, it may sound pretty obvious; but there are still people out there who arrive to interviews looking like they’re heading to a rock concert/ 7-11/ Night club straight after.
Aim for business casual at the very least.What NOT to wear: Flip flops, Shorts, Denim, T-shirts, hats, loud colours, too much makeup, too much jewellery (do not wear big statement pieces, or bracelets/ earrings/ necklaces that sound like you are a walking, talking tambourine.
No sky high heels, dresses that are too short etc. Don’t spray yourself with so much perfume/ cologne that it is making your interviews eyes tear up either! You get the idea – I’m not telling you to dress like you’re on your way to a funeral, but there is a happy middle ground in there somewhere.
4- The Introduction: Give the person interviewing you a firm handshake and a warm smile upon first introduction. Weak handshakes are horribly awkward and combined with a stony facial expression creates a terrible first impression.
99% of the time, you will be informed of who you will be meeting with at an interview.
If not, make it your mission to find out. Getting the Managing Directors name wrong is worse than not knowing it at all. If it is a name that is difficult to pronounce, ask them to pronounce it for you. For example, Aisling is an Irish name. Can you imagine shaking the hand of someone involved with the hiring decision process, and greeting them with “Hi Ass-ling, so nice to meet you!” when in fact, it is pronounced Ash-ling?
5- Cell Phones: Turn them off and keep them off until the interview is over. If you are like me and your phone is an extension of your right hand and you cannot leave it untouched for more than five minutes at a time – leave it in your car or at home. There is nothing more unprofessional than talking on, texting from or playing with your phone before, during or immediately after an interview.
6- Chewing Gum: No. Just … no. An interviewer is there to get to know you and to talk about what you both hope to achieve from a potential job offer – they do not want to watch your jaw mechanically go into overtime as you chow down over and over again on that flavoured wad of rubber in your mouth. Brush your teeth before your interview or pop a breath mint if you have to.
7- Negativity: Generally, companies do not want to hire miserable people. There is no room for negativity in an interview. Be bright, friendly and positive at all times. For example, if you are asked about your work history, and you have issues with a previous employer, do not go on a five minute rant about how tyrannically awful they were, even if they were the biggest a$$h*les under the sun. Simply let them know that it was not a right fit and that you gained valuable experience from your time working there.
8- Eye Contact: I am not advising you to stare the poor person down, far from it. But making eye contact with the person or people interviewing you is imperative to establish a connection between you both and to show them that you are tuned in to what is going on.
9- TMI: Giving Too Much Information can be just as damaging as not opening up enough in your interview. Answer what is asked of you, do not stray from the point and give clear concise answers. If you have any questions, keep them until the end of the interview and again make sure that they are clear so that the person interviewing you is not confused as to what is being asked of them.
10- Interview Nerves: Every single person on this planet suffers from anxiety at one time or another; we are only human after all. I understand it is easier said than done, but you can lower your interview anxiety by increasing your knowledge of the business you are being interviewed for.
Do your research on the history of the company, look over the job description if you have one and spend some time checking out the company website. This will also show management that you took the time to do some preparatory pre interview work and portrays your eagerness for this job opportunity.
At the end of the day, the company you are interviewing with will more than likely have seen your resume and liked it enough to bring you in to meet with them in person. Please remember this – it will do wonders for your confidence in an interview!
Good luck! I hope you find the job of your dreams!