In our lifetime, we must go to thousands of interviews. We take hours to prepare ourselves with research, reading up about the interviewers, about our own strengths etc etc. It’s always hard facing an interview, whether it’s a college/university one or a job one.
Whether we get the desired outcome or not, depends a lot on how we prepare. ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and all that jazz. I’ve faced a lot of interviews over the span of my life and wanted to share some things I do to help me prepare myself that bit better.
Dress to Impress
This is a no-brainer. First impressions are everything in an interview. When they see you, if the first thing they see are wrinkled/stained clothes, unkempt hair – instantly you come across as unprofessional and unorganised. Give yourself the best chance you can by dressing the part. Make sure there are no stains on your clothing and they’re ironed. Wear neutral colours – I can’t stress this enough. There are places to express your individuality of you’re going for a creative job perhaps. But most generic, corporate jobs, college/university interviews – grey/black/navy are the way to go. Check out this colour meaning infographics. Wear it beforehand and look in the mirror, would you employ this person? Yes? Great! Same with your makeup, keep it simple and neutral.
Do your homework
Know everything there is to know about the company/course/subject. Think of potential questions that can come up. Think about your own experiences and skill – your ‘pitch’. Interviews are basically where you sell how perfect you are for the job/course. So you think of it as a ‘sales pitch’ and sell your skillset. I don’t mean that you should exaggerate, but really focus on your part in a task and how you can contribute to the team/role.
Know your route
This is the easiest thing to do and one most people underestimate. Never leave it to the day of the interview to find your route there. Go on Google maps and check the best route and duration of journey to be prepared. Give yourself an extra 20 minutes so you definitely get there on time. If you were to be stuck in traffic, or your bus broke down – you’ll have a little room to manoeuvre. There’s nothing like spoiling your chances by arriving late to an interview!
This is perhaps the most important. Everyone is nervous to face an interview; it’s a normal human reaction. However just don’t let it show. Even if you do look nervous, answer the questions with confidence and assertion. If you need a few seconds to gather your thoughts – take those few seconds. If I’m really struggling, I quickly start drinking my glass of water as it gives me a few seconds to prepare my answer logically rather than ramble! That reminds me, a friend of mine once gave me an advice which I always remember. If the interviewer asks you if you’d like something to drink (water/tea/coffee obviously!), ALWAYS say yes! This is because that’s the first question they’re asking you, and if you’re answer is positive, it gives them a positive impression of you. He explained the psychology behind it, but I forgot…however that’s the gist of his reasoning. And secondly, you can always buy yourself time whilst taking a sip of your water!
These are quite basic generic tips that can help with most interviews. If you do have any specific questions, please do comment below or tweet me @aspiring_london!