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Wednesday, August 27

How to: Impress at your next job interview

So you've managed to get an interview for a new job, now what? I have been successful at every interview I have ever attended, except one; and in that instance they created a new role for me, which is the role I'm currently working in and loving. So I've pulled together my best tips for being the best you can be at your next job interview and this will hopefully help you to get one step closer to your dream job!

If possible, always wear a suit. You can never be overdressed for a job interview, but you can most definitely be underdressed.

Ladies, if you wear heels, make sure they are mid to low height and you can walk in them comfortably; you don't want any embarrassing falls. If you opt for a skirt, it should be no shorter than just above the knee; preferably it should sit on or just below the knee. Hair, makeup, nails and jewellery should be neat, neutral and minimal (unless you're going for a beauty or fashion role).

Fellas, wear a tie and if you feel it is too much upon arriving and scanning the rest of the interviewees, you can quickly take this off and pop it in your bag. If you're unsure, always go for overdressed.

There are some exceptions to the 'always wear a suit rule'. If you are going for an interview in a specialised industry, stick with the smart and neutral option, but dress appropriately for your chosen industry. If you are a young teen and applying for your first role, you're not always expected to wear a suit, depending on what kind of job it is. If you can, then do; but if not, opt for smart black trousers or a skirt and go for a smart black or white blouse or shirt. Anything less than this and you risk looking like your mum has sent you to get a job, but you're not really that keen.

Even if you didn't really know much about the company or brand you applied for, make sure you know as much as you possibly can before your interview. You're going to want to know how the company began and what their main goals and missions are. You're also going to need to know what they do and where you will fit in. How else will you be able to answer questions like 'why do you want to work for us?', 'why should we hire you?' and 'what qualities will you bring to the company?'. If you can relate your qualities and skills to the goals and missions of the company, you're onto a winner.

Make sure you know exactly where you're going, check public transport times and leave yourself time for delays or do a test drive in the car and check where there is available parking so there's no mad rush across town to get to your location after parking 20 minutes away. Wear a watch and try to arrive about 15 minutes early.

Photo Credit: www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/

At the end of most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions for them. Always have at least one to ask. For this to work, you need to prepare yourself with at least three in case they answer the questions during the interview. If they answer your question and then you ask it at the end, it will seem like you weren't listening and that's not the best impression to give so have a few backup questions. If they genuinely have answered everything, and I have had this happen to me before, just ponder for a second and then say you think they've answered everything and you're happy with the information they've given. Then at least they know you had some and you could even say what you were going to ask and recap what they said.

Don't start making up loads of stories of experience and skills you have, they'll either see right through it in the interview or they'll see through it when you get the job because you won't know what you're doing. You'll end up not having a clue and being miserable until you leave or you won't even make it through your probationary period, because it will be clear you don't have the desired skills. My current job role was created for me and the reason I didn't get the job I applied for was because my experience was lacking in one part of the role and therefore my knowledge was just a little short of another girl who went for the same role. She got it, but because I was able to impress with my other skills, a role was created for me and I am actually much happier with the way it turned out. You never know what opportunities may present themselves if you are open and honest with the skills you possess.

If you get asked a question that you don't know the answer to, don't start talking until you know what you're going to say. It is ok to ask for a second to think about your answers; most interviewers will appreciate that second to catch up with their notes. It's better than opening your mouth, speaking about completely the wrong thing, realising half way through that the answer is something completely different and then changing what you're saying. The interviewer will see right through that and know you were bluffing, you also risk waffling on and getting yourself tongue tied because you don't know how to close off what you're saying.

Google 'basic interview questions' and 'competency based questions'. Even if you think you'll easily be able to answer things like 'what are your strengths and weaknesses?', if you're in an interview environment and get asked that, you may just find yourself a little stumped. Make sure you go over all of the basic questions and talk out an answer in your head; some questions may take a little more thinking about than you expect. The competency based questions are ones that start with 'give me an example when...' so it's good to have a look over these before your interview so you can have some examples ready. Examples can be from previous job roles, projects you've worked on at school/college/university or just general life. You want to make sure they each have a problem, how you dealt with it and the final outcome. It's also important to know that it's ok to use examples of when you've made mistakes, your interviewer wants to know how you handled the situation and that there was a positive outcome in the end. If you do have any examples that didn't have good outcomes, then don't use these as it shows you didn't turn the situation around; the interview is looking for a positive outcome! 

Photo Credit: www.flazingo.com

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is a limp handshake. If I meet someone who gives me a limp hand to shake, they are instantly in my 'really?' book. Other than your appearance, your handshake will be one of the first impressions you give at a job interview and this needs to be confident and show that you believe you are the right person for this role (even if you feel like you might be punching above your weight, you may just surprise yourself). Practice your hand shake with a friend and make sure you introduce yourself to each of your interviewers and shake their hands, even if they don't do this first. It's the polite thing to do and if they didn't plan on doing it, this will leave a lasting impression (a good, confident one).

Don't chew gum, sit up straight, keep eye contact with your interviewer(s) and do not talk over them, even if you know the end of the question they're about to ask; it's just basic manners, but many people unfortunately... forget? I don't know how you can forget manners, but that's the only way I can put it into words, and an interview would be the worst time to forget these. Smile and be friendly.

Get a good sleep before the interview and make sure you eat a filling and healthy breakfast. You may feel too nervous to eat and adrenaline may kick in when you arrive, but as soon as your body starts to calm down during the interview, you could start feeling ill, hot or even faint. It's not worth it, even if you can manage a smoothie with some oats to fill you up, get something in your body.

End the interview with a handshake, thank the interviewer(s) for their time and say you look forward to hearing from them. Following up with a thank you email, card or note is a good way to be remembered and stand out from the crowd. I think a hand written note is always more personal and memorable than an email, which may get missed. To avoid delays, have this ready and post it straight after your interview.

If you have any tips for impressing at a job interview, I'd love to hear them. Share them with us in the comments section below or @HappyLittleLift.

Kayleigh x

You will only ever come second if you try to be someone else, but you will always win 1st place at being yourself.