3 months ago by Leanne Scaletta

What they DON’T tell you about interviews

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​Everyone knows that interviews can be nerve-wracking. Whether you consider yourself a natural or get tied up in knots, getting yourself interview ready takes a tonne of preparation. With the job market more competitive than ever, our experts share the things no one else tells you, based on real feedback from past clients.

Dress code

Traditionally only a suit would be appropriate interview attire. As attitudes shift, what you should wear to your interview becomes more complex. Always ask beforehand what the dress code is and dress accordingly. That may still be a suit, but could jeans be suitable?

Some interviewees have arrived wearing too much aftershave, perfume, or even heavy makeup. Whilst it’s a subjective issue, this can be a distraction for some interviewers. Remember, it’s an interview and not a night out on the town.

Time Keeping

Worried about being late? Be sure to plan your journey beforehand. Have you left enough time to account for traffic or train delays? Aim to arrive 10 minutes before the start of your interview to allow time to sign in and be shown to the interview room.

Don’t be too early! Not only will it give you more time to get nervous, you may also be inconveniencing the interviewer. If you arrive too early for your interview, why not track down the nearest coffee shop and take time to gather your thoughts? A positive mental state is vital for a good interview.

First Impressions

You have seven seconds to make an impression, so it needs to be a good one. Make eye contact and keep a firm handshake. If making eye contact throughout the interview feels too awkward, look past their shoulder instead of down at your hands.

Get rid of any chewing gum or mints before entering the building, put away your headphones and remember to turn your phone off! These small things show professionalism and can hinder that vital first impression.

Your interview starts as soon as you arrive. You must be respectful and polite to the Receptionist and anyone else you encounter. Often, they are asked for their opinion after you leave so this first impression is as important as the one you give to your interviewer.

Preparation

Last year we put together our handy guide to nailing your next interview which is packed with tips on good preparation. Putting in the groundwork needs to go beyond having a scroll through their website and socially stalking the interview panel. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Leaving it until the morning of the interview could leave you feeling rushed, flustered and even heighten your nerves – none of which are conducive to a solid interview.

What are your hobbies? A timeless question that still catches many people out! We advocate for being honest in your interview but be careful; socialising and Netflix are not enough for your potential employer.

Do you have a portfolio? Keep it short, impactful, and always leave a copy with the interviewer. Ask before you take it along and don’t expect them to read through it while you are there. No one needs that kind of uncomfortable silence in an already intimidating situation.

Remember, there is such a thing as too much preparation. Scripted answers mean you lose personality. Keep a good balance by practising with typical competency-based questions, using real examples that are expressed in your own way. Memorising something you read online that sounds good is a sure-fire way to get caught out.

The Interview

Your CV gets you the interview, but your personality (and prep work) gets you the job. Time and again our experts have seen great candidates make the same mistakes. Here are five things to keep front of mind:

1. Do you have a panel of interviewers? Be sure to connect with them all, and not just the one speaking to you.

2. Remember it’s a two-way thing. This interview is for you to find out about the company and the role, as well as for the employer to discover whether you are the right fit for the job. Prepare at least three questions before you arrive to show your interest.

3. Demonstrate genuine passion but don’t overcook it. Fake enthusiasm gets spotted a mile off; you’re not fooling anyone.

4. Be cautious of passive words that sound flaky – actually, literally, maybe, honestly etc. Use clear, concise language that expresses confidence and reliability.

5. Be yourself, but don’t get too personal. Whilst some interviewers love to get under your skin, many are uncomfortable discussing personal subjects that are best
kept to your private life.

An invite for informal drinks is a common element of the modern recruitment process. The misconception is that it is a done deal, but the reality is that this is a final interview stage. Don’t get drunk and be cautious about what you say. At We Are Adam, we’ve reached this point in our own recruitment process, only to decide not to offer a candidate the role because they’ve shown their true colours to our consultants after a beer or two.

Salary

No one is comfortable talking about money in an interview so leave it to your recruiter. They will always negotiate in your best interests. If you have applied directly, give the figure you would expect to earn but don’t justify it. The information you give at this stage may be used against you to negotiate that number down.

Nervous about asking for a higher salary? Remember it is as hard for them to say no because they can’t afford it as it is for you to ask.

Ultimately, interviewing well is a skill, but it’s one that you can learn. Your recruiter can coach you through it and even run a mock interview beforehand. Whether you are nervous and inexperienced, or calm and confident, everyone can value from constructive feedback so be sure to keep an open mind, both before and after the interview.

If you enjoyed this article, why not look at further resources on our blog? 8 Tips to Nail Your Next Interview can be downloaded to use as a checklist. It includes bonus content about competency-based interview questions, to help you prepare with confidence.