Interviews / October 14th, 2016
Workplaces are much more diverse than they used to be, which is a great thing. Some are very traditional, but less formal arrangements are more and more common. As a result, it’s harder to give blanket advice on job interviews than it used to be: today people’s employment experiences are more varied than they once were. That said, there are certain rules of thumb that will help you out whether you’re going to be an executive assistant in a law firm or a UI developer in a trendy startup. We have collected some of the best over our many collective years in the industry, so here they are to share with you.
- Dress appropriately, which usually means smart. First impressions still count. They will always count. So make sure you are looking neat, professional, and a little on the smart side. Whilst there is certainly such a thing as over-dressing and many offices now prefer a more casual look, be sure to err on the smarter side of caution when selecting where to position yourself on the dangerously subjective ‘smasual’ spectrum.
- Do your research, then do some more. It sounds basic, but we can’t stress how many candidates don’t do enough. Employers are people, and people like to talk about themselves. Absorb the company’s website and social media channels, search for news about them on the internet. Go a step further and see if you can find anything in common with the person interviewing you using LinkedIn – you never know when it might help.
- Be punctual, not really early. Arrive late, and you might as well turn round and go home again. Turn up an hour early, and the interviewer will question your judgement.
- Be confident and relaxed. Make sure you shake hands firmly with everyone in the room and introduce yourself individually. Good eye contact and a smile can work wonders! If you struggle with this sort of thing, work on maintaining eye contact during conversations with friends and invest some time in trying out (non-chemical!) techniques for relaxing yourself ahead of an interview.
- Back your claims up with examples. Everyone can make bold claims about how much of a team player or how ambitious they are. The only way the interviewer will know for sure is with specific examples of when you have demonstrated these traits. If you’d like to research this more, look up the STAR interview technique – it’s simple, but effective.
- Ask questions. This is a crucial part of the interview and often overlooked by the candidate, but an important part of the evaluation process for the interviewer. We have seen candidates hired not on the answers they gave, but on the questions they asked. It showed that they had thought about the role and some of the challenges that they might face. If you are offered the chance to ask questions, don’t say no, nothing to ask. If you wanted the job, you’d probably have just blown it. In any job interview, the candidate who asks nothing is at the least missing an opportunity to find out more about the position; at the worst damaging their chances of getting hired. A few further points to note:
- Show spontaneity. Ask a question that relates to something the interviewer told you, something that you’re genuinely interested to hear the answer to. It demonstrates you have been listening
- Avoid the obvious. Obvious questions are pointless, a missed opportunity to ask something better and could irritate the interviewer. For example, “What skills are you looking for?” (A: All the things that are on the job description and I just asked you about) or, “How much annual leave would I get?” (A: By the sounds of it, not as much as you want).
- Engage. Ask a question that relates to the interviewer themselves, as a person – engage with them on a personal level e.g. why do you like working at this company?
- Finish strong. If after all that, you think you would like to get this job, tell the interviewer that: “I’m excited by this and I want the job”. Employers will feel reassured if you personally believe that this is the right opportunity for you and you share their enthusiasm for the company.
These techniques should work for interviews whether they are formal or informal. If you really aren’t sure about a particular role, though, a good recruitment consultant should give you handy tailored advice. We always look to help our candidates out as much as we can!
Finally, from the Boston Link team, good luck with your interview!