Ten top tips for succeeding in interviews

These top ten job interview tips will help you improve your chances of successfully securing a new role.

Interview door Be on time

A necessity if you want to be taken seriously for the role.

Be smartly dressed

You might consider the company to have a casual outlook, but whatever its culture, you'll be expected to be smartly suited at the interview.

Ladies, leave the accessories at home, and go for simple sophistication.

Don't go overboard on the perfume or aftershave either, you want to remembered for your skills rather than your smell.

Be yourself

Employers don’t require perfection but they do look for integrity and honesty. If you have made a mistake, that's OK. We all do that, but what did you learn from that situation? Think about examples of how you’ve learnt from errors as employers are looking for people who reflect and want to continually improve how they do things.

Use notes

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, so if you have a tendency to clam up, use notes. Always check out of politeness that it's ok to refer to them, but in the main, interviewers don't mind you using these at all. Most of the time you wont need them, however it can be reassuring to have them there.

They're also a useful way to prepare when in the waiting room. Run through these notes to remind yourself of skills you want to demonstrate and the questions you want to ask.

Overcome your nerves

If you suddenly get nervous there are tools you can use to get over this "blip".

For example, if you freeze and cant think of an answer, then take a sip of water, as this gives you a chance to calm down and think. Also if you need a second, take the time to ask an interviewer to repeat a phrase or question.

Make your point, then stop

Nerves can affect you and make you waffle, so also be sure to stop talking once you've made your point. Keep on topic as well. Don't give examples where you played a background role, as these are not what the interviewer is looking for. Unless the question is asking about you playing a secondary role, it wont be a good example.

Don't be negative

It’s never a good move to say anything negative or critical about past employers. You can say it was understaffed and quite pressured as that's a balanced approach, however saying your boss was horrid and bullied you will look bad on you more than your old company.

Think about why you want to work for the company

Ask yourself what the organisation is about. What are they trying to achieve, what's the environment like that they work in?

Research and then pick out what attracts you and why and tell them. Just reciting the website doesn't really say anything about you, all it says is you can recite chunks of information.

Show a willingness to learn

Organisations may not be looking for a complete picture. Particularly on graduate schemes and first jobs, companies are looking for potential and a willingness to learn.

More than anything they’re looking for people that will fit into the company’s culture, its values and behaviours.

Remember an interview is a two-way process

Be sure to prepare what you want to get out of the interview. Think what you want to know in order to decide if a) it's the job for you, b) it's the culture and organisation for you and c) it's the right opportunity for you.

Think about the questions you can ask - not just how many days holiday you get or the starting salary. Imagine the company is going to offer you the job and you're going to have to start in a week’s time - what information do you want to know?

Good questions to consider include:

  • Can you tell me more about what the role/course involves?
  • What would the first month/quarter look like?
  • What site will I be based at?
  • How does the company reward success?
  • What are the opportunities for progression?
  • What opportunities are there for flexible working?
  • What is the company's attitude towards training?

Finally, don't forget to smile and have a nice firm handshake!