You’ve successfully sent your CV after completing yet another job application. This time you finally receive confirmation that the organisation would like to invite you in for a first interview, you just have to do well in your interview, but there’s just one problem. You’ve never had a formal company interview before and you’re unsure about how to go about it.
Fortunately, this article provides you with top tips to ensure your first interview goes as successfully as possible.
Be sure to conduct some preliminary research on the company that’s interviewing you. This means heading over to the company’s official website to understand a little more about who they are and what they do. For instance, what markets do they operate in, what are their key products, who are their competition etc.
To take it a step further, you can search for the company in the News section of your favourite search engine tool. Read up on any recent articles concerning their mission statement, leadership, results, or any developments they’ve made which align with their business goals. Try to understand how this role which you’re being interviewed for, fits into the larger aims and organisational success.
You can even learn more about the company through their presence on social media and their recent posts. What are they marketing, how involved are their employees and so on. Finally, ensure that you review the job description in as much detail as possible, so you completely understand the required skills for the job and are able to link the experience you have, to what they want.
Practice before an interview is one of, if not the most important part of securing a new job. Before your interview, ask a friend or family member to help you rehearse.
Search the internet for sample interview questions, or book an interview with one of our consultants to prepare you in what to expect. Whilst its likely you’ll be asked some questions you didn’t practice in advance for, practicing will always help you feel more comfortable and thus give you a general idea of what to expect, and how to respond.
What you select to wear on the day on the interview holds the potential to positively or negatively impact the impression left on the interviewer/s.
Choose your outfit based on the culture of the workplace; if its a funky, relaxed office environment they don’t go for a look which looks too formal; this ties in with adequately researching the company. To be on the safe side, smart casual is always a safe decision to go with; a pale coloured blouse or shirt tends to give just the right balance of professionalism but confidence.
No matter the reason, being late gives a terrible impression and starts the engagement off completely on the wrong foot.
To avoid any initial negative impressions, ensure that you check the location of the interview ahead of time. You should have a clear understanding of how to get there, how long the journey takes and any other logistical issues that might arrive, such as parking.
Generally, it’s good practice to arrive 15 minutes before the interview. If practical, conduct a dry run to your interview site, so that you have a good idea of how long it’ll take to get there.
Set Google map directions to the office the day before at the time you’re schedule to leave. This will give you rough idea of how long it’ll take during rush hour.
A positive impression plays an integral part of having a successful interview.
Upon being collected from reception, extend a firm handshake, smile, and look the person in the eye whilst saying “nice to meet you”. When you arrive to the meeting room, do the same again with the interviewers.
During the first interview, speak with confidence and clarity. Posture is also important, so make sure you sit with your back straight and avoid slouching or leaning back at all costs.
A great first impression is only the first step towards sealing the deal. Your overall professional presentation of yourself should remain throughout the entire process. From the moment you walk in the door, to the time you leave. The interviewer and all those who’ve interacted with you should be left with the impression that you are confident, informed, and well-mannered.
Above all, be relaxed whilst showing off some of your individual personality. Remember, the interviewers won’t be looking for a robot.
If you happen to know someone working within the company, don’t be afraid to let your interviewer know this information (if you think that person will be positive about you).
If it comes down to the wire between you and another candidate, the interviewer might just ask that person what they think about you. Your skills, personality, work ethic, and how you might fit in with the team.
This person can act as a reference for you. That being said, it is important to let that person know ahead of time to avoid them being caught off-guard.
Developing a rapport with your interviewer/s can be an effective way to help them remember you and for you to perform better.
You should adapt a friendly general disposition. Don’t forget to smile and let that smile be reflect throughout your body language. Try to avoid crossing your arms, or interlocking your fingers on the desk in front of you (do it on your lap, beneath the table).
Overall, your demeanour should be a pleasant and non-threatening.
When the opportunity arrives for you to ask your questions, you should slightly angle your shoulders and head towards the person whom your directing the question to. Be sure that your questions are asked in a practical, thoughtful, yet confident way. It’s always best to ensure that you’re questions are pre-prepared, where possible you can write them down on a notepad in advance of the first interview.
Generally you should ask about; The structure of the team, How the role fits into it, How the team fits into the business, The key success measures for the role; What was the driving factor behind requiring this new position etc. You could also ask about the work culture or the day to day activities of the organisation.
Once your interview has concluded, shake your interviewer’s hand with a smile on your face and thank them for their time. The interview must be concluded in the exact same way it started, with a lasting impression.
Once the interview is done, send a thank-you email to the interviewer. This helps that interviewer remember your face and name. It also shows that you are a thankful and courteous individual, thereby leaving a positive impression.
If the interviewer has shared a timeframe of when you should expect to hear back, do not follow up before that timeframe. If however, you’ve not heard anything back a day or two after the confirmed timing, you may send a polite and short follow up email. Something like:
Dear Sir/Madam, following my interview on (insert date) for the position of (insert role), I’d like to enquire if there’s any feedback in regards to the role. Kind Regards.
A successful interview is critical to you being employed by the organisation. By preparing in advance and taking the time to rehearse, you’re much more likely to have a positive first interview, wherein you’ve presented the most polished and professional version of yourself.
The key takeaways from this article are:
Prepare and practice. This means taking the time to rehearse. This also includes devoting some time to learning about the organisation and the role you’ve applied for.
Don’t let your nerves conquer you. There is nothing wrong with being a little nervous right before an interview, however, you should try not to let this impede your chances for success. Listen attentively to the questions asked and respond to them as best as you can.
Do not forget to thank the interviewer. It is important you thank the interviewer for their time at the conclusion of the interview. You should also follow up with an email afterward. This supports and overall positive experience
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