Endless applications, CV drafts and redrafts, working for free… the job hunt continues. I know a lot of you are in the same boat- sucks, doesn’t it? With that in mind I thought I’d put together a few of the interview tips I’ve gleaned from various sources- my time in a recruitment firm, the couple of interviews I’ve had recently and my fount of knowledge, my mother.
Breathe :: It didn’t matter how many speaking exams I went through at uni, I would always feel panicky. Sweaty palms*, heartbeat drumming in your ears, shortness of breath- the whole shabang. In my final year I mastered a couple of breathing techniques to calm me down, my favourite being what’s called ‘square breathing’. It goes like this: breathe in for 2, hold for 2, out for 2, hold for 2. Once you feel it easier to breathe, increase it to counts of four. I found that doing this whilst pacing slowly up and down (or, if pacing’s not an option, rocking from one foot to the other on the breaths) would make me feel very zen, and it works equally well in the minutes before a big interview. Om!
*On the topic of sweaty palms, nobody wants a moist handshake! Pop some talcum powder in your bag then use to dry your hands just before the interview- works a treat.
Compose yourself :: My Mum interviews a lot of people in her job, and her interview tips are nuggets of gold. The best one she’s shared is this: before you enter the office or even the building, take five minutes to compose yourself. Take some deep breaths (see above), relax, then enter the interview with confidence. You’d be surprised how many people sit down in the interview room in a fluster, faff about getting ready, and miss the first question entirely.
Smile :: Don’t forget this one, it’s crucial. These are your potential colleagues, you want them to want to work with you! And while we’re on this one, be nice to whoever answers the door- whenever people were rude to me, the assistant who greeted them, I would always make sure the recruitment consultant knew about it. Bad first impressions are a no-no.
Do your research :: You should obviously research the company, it’s competitors, who the CEO is- anything you can think of. But don’t forget to take a step back. Think about what books you’ve read recently and what your hobbies are. Come up with a few questions to ask at the end (eg. ‘what’s it like to work here?). Read today’s news, particularly if you’re going for a media position. The interview is an opportunity to show what you’re like as a person, not just to reel off facts.
Nail the outfit :: Speaks for itself. I would always admire great outfits candidates wore for interviews in the Paris office- white shirt, grey blazer lilac cigarette trousers and matching stilettos for example just said ‘elegant confidence’. We also had a few shockers (jeans and t-shirt anyone?) who gave an awful first impression. This belted dress and coat combo is my ideal outfit (although would go for black tights and heels). Hair-wise I always prefer an up-do, when it’s down you’re in danger of fiddling with it or looking messy.
Just asked my boyfriend if he had an pearls of wisdom to offer: ‘6th tip to smash your interview? Smash the interviewer.’ Probably best not to.