Better Interview Preparation: 4. All the other bits and pieces

Untitled-1This is the fourth and final article in our series on better interview preparation, we’ve been through all the important preparation techniques – preparing your answers to questions, thoroughly researching the firm, the industry and the role and then practicing for the real thing so that you know you’re ready.

Now we’re going to go through a few other bits of preparation key to interview success.

What to wear

In the vast majority of interviews you’ll wear a suit (and tie for the men). Swing towards the more fashionable end for less formal companies – new start-ups, stylish marketing companies etc. Keep to a more conservative look for the more traditional firms.

Watch out for the little things such as too much jewellery, being overly perfumed or wearing too much aftershave, having dirty shoes, creased clothing etc.

Some companies will set a dress code for the interview such as ‘Business Casual’ or ‘Smart Casual’ – this is a real minefield. If you’re going for the vacancy through a recruiter then ask them for advice. Remember you need to look professional, but no suits – they’ve specifically set a dress code so don’t ignore their instructions. We’ve stolen some photos from the next catalogue to give you an idea:

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Getting there

If at all possible, do a trial run to where the interview is being held. That way you’ll know exactly where it is and how long it’s going to take you to get there.

This isn’t always practical what with various time and financial constraints – if you can’t do a trial run aim to get to your interview with enough time to grab a coffee first. If all goes well you’ll have enough time to sit down and collect your thoughts before the interview and if something does hold you up you’ll have given yourself enough leeway not to be late.

If the worst happens and you are late always call as soon as you can, explain exactly what happened and hope your interviewer is one of those perpetually late people!

What to take

The company contact number. See point above!

A pen and paper. We once heard from a manager at a major graduate recruiter who said a candidate that walks into his interview room without a pen and paper in hand will not be getting the job! So take a pen and notebook and don’t be afraid to jot things down in the interview, it shows you’re interested.

Your notes. Probably best to just have these in your notebook. Include the questions that you wanted to ask and any other points to remember such as key company information – it’s a good thing to flick through while you’re sitting awkwardly in the waiting room.

A paper copy of your CV. Always bring a copy of your CV to the interview, it’s just good practice.

Any showcase material. Some interviews will ask you to bring evidence of your achievements but even if they don’t ask we always advise candidates to take a mini portfolio if they can put one together. It’ll probably stay in your bag but nothing says capable and efficient like having things ready that the interviewer didn’t even know they wanted.

Emergency supplies. A bottle of water, chewing gum (get rid of it before entering the building!), cough sweets, make up remover incase of mascara disasters, painkillers particularly if your prone to stress headaches, anything you might need. Be ultra prepared.

A bag. Because you definitely don’t want to be carrying all that stuff around in just your pockets – briefcase for the gents and a briefcase or a smart large handbag for the ladies.

Questions to ask

Do not make the fatal mistake of not asking any questions at the end of the interview – it shows complete disinterest in the position and can ruin even the best interview performance.

We have more on the sort of questions you should be asking here.

Just before the interview

Brush up. Read through your CV, the cover letter you sent in, any application forms you had to complete, the job description, research notes, etc. It may have been weeks since you sent in your application so refresh your memory because you’ll likely be asked questions about the things that you wrote.

Give yourself a pep talk. Confidence is a big part of interview success. Remember that they’ve chosen you for interview over possibly hundreds of other applicants, so they like you on paper, think about all the skills you have and what an asset you would be to their company!

That’s it for the Better Interview Preparation series! Next week we’ll be posting an interview prep checklist and we’ll put everything together so you can download it in one handy document.

If you have any interview preparation questions – tweet us, we’ll be happy to help!

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