It is crucial to put the time in before the interview; you will have a much better chance of performing at your best and you will feel more confident. A quick look at the recruiter’s website the day before is not sufficient!
Make a positive impact
Good interviewers are trained to base their decision on more than their first impression of you. In addition to what you actually say, how you come across (your “personal impact”) is very important in giving the interviewer a sense of whether you can work well with colleagues or clients.
- Arrive on time - but not too early. 10-15 minutes before your interview is about right. If you are unavoidably delayed, let them know.
- Try to keep calm - you are bound to feel nervous but calming yourself down beforehand will be an advantage in the interview. Breathing exercises, for example, can help keep you calm.
- Be friendly and polite - behave the same with everyone you meet; they may be asked for their impressions of you.
- Be professional - greet the interviewer in a confident, professional and friendly manner.
- Answer questions with a positive tone of voice.
- Be aware of your body language - you are aiming for formal but relaxed and showing that you are attentive and listening.
- Be yourself - while bearing in mind all of the above, it’s still really important to let your personality come across.
What to think about when preparing
Match yourself to the job criteria
Re-read the job description and criteria. Think about how you meet the requirements with specific recent examples from your experiences in work, academic life or interests / activities, make sure they are relevant to the skills required and try to focus on recent examples.
Anticipate possible questions
You can't predict exactly what you will be asked, but you can prepare for the typical areas that will be covered. If there is anything unusual in your application the interviewer may want to ask about this (eg time gaps or lower than expected academic grades) and think about how you will answer. Don't prepare scripted answers, they will sound very unnatural.
Research the employer and sector
You need to go beyond the careers pages on their website to find out about the employer’s activities and strategy. However, for smaller organisations published information will be limited or non-existent. It is, though, very probable that they will have some form of online presence, so make effective use of social media: follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and use LinkedIn - the employer pages are a good source of information, and there may be groups you could join.
Research relevant professional and sector websites and publications. Keep up to date with news / current affairs, particularly with regard to issues related to your chosen occupational area.
For more information on how to research an employer see our Resources for researching employers (PDF - 230KB) guide.
Research the role
Do you really know what the job involves? Read the employer’s recruitment information, talk to people you know working in the field. For careers and job role information use:
Check travel arrangements so that you can arrive in good time. Think about what to wear; the main objective is to look smart and professional. If you are disabled let the employer know in advance if any adjustments need to be made to the interview process; www.direct.gov.uk have further information on this.