Top 10 Tips for Attending a Job Interview

Feeling nervous and overwhelmed about attending a job interview? Don’t worry; it’s normal! To help calm those nerves and ace that interview, here are our top 10 tips for creating the perfect job interview experience. From ensuring your CV and cover letter are polished to offering invaluable advice during the interview, we’ve got you covered. Follow these steps, and you’re sure to land that dream job!

1. Dress appropriately

A lot has changed since my first interview. From being at school, then college and beyond, I was told continuously that appearance was essential and wore a smart suit with smart shoes and felt uncomfortable for many years. That’s not to say not to, but consider the position. I’ve seen interviewees at Tesco dressed in suits and ties, looking extremely uncomfortable. That’s not to say that Tesco won’t appreciate your effort, but a smart pair of trousers and a shirt would probably be okay.

When deciding what to wear to a job interview, it’s essential to dress appropriately. Although office attire is generally more relaxed these days, it’s still important to look put together and professional. Avoid wearing jeans or Converse shoes, but try incorporating some of your individual style and personality into your outfit. You don’t have to go all out in a suit and tie, but looking polished and presentable is always appreciated!

Stylish Asian businesswoman with laptop and takeaway coffee in city
Photo by John Diez

2. Research

Don’t ever underestimate the power of research. I’m going to be honest: I’ve been to interviews fully equipped with background information on companies and have never been asked one question about what I know. Then, I’ve been to interviews and asked questions that I could never have answered. Look at their social media pages; what’s one of the last things they’ve posted or shared? Do they have social media pages? I was recently at an interview and asked what I thought of the company’s website! I wasn’t prepared, but I had researched the company and managed to draw on some of the things I remembered.

Preparing for a job interview can be a daunting task. To make sure you put your best foot forward, it’s essential to research the role you are applying for and the company. This can help you develop relevant questions and conversation topics, demonstrating your knowledge and interest in the position and the organisation. Even picking up on recent news stories about the company that you can reference in conversation is an effective way to make an impression during the interview.

3. Preparation

You’ve bagged the interview of your dreams, so interview preparation is critical. Check if the interview requires you to supply a passport, national insurance number or a list of references. Some do at the interview stage, so it is best to check any emails you receive. Ensure you know where you must be, how you will get there and when you will arrive. Is it going to be a walk or a car journey, or are you relying on public transport?

Keep a folder of relevant documents, including your recent CV. You’ll be surprised by how many interviews I’ve been to, and the interviewer has a CV on my LinkedIn profile from six months earlier.

Make sure what you wear is ironed and clean and in a place that isn’t likely to get lost or dirty, and don’t forget about the shoes! We all do it.

Person in black Long Sleeve Shirt Holding a Clipboard with Resume
Photo by cottonbro studio

4. Arrive on time

I’m not going to lie. I’ve arrived at interviews flustered, tired and puffing. It’s not strictly professional. If you know it will take an hour by car, allow for at least an hour and a half. If you are using public transport, allow longer. I made the mistake of allowing two hours door to door. I missed my train because the station screens were down, and no one could find out which platform it was leaving. I arrived for my interview with two minutes to spare, looking flustered and like I’d run a marathon. Allowing 10 to 15 minutes is typical. I like to look around, check out my surroundings (nearest Costa) and ensure I feel calm and ready.

5. Prepare Questions

On more than one occasion, I’ve been to an interview and failed to ask any questions, mainly due to being ill-prepared. I’ve learnt my lesson. I know to prepare at least three, and I use my research to help. I have included some examples:

Ask about the future of the company. Do they have any major plans? If you’ve seen something on their social media that interests you, don’t hesitate to ask about it! It will show that you have taken an interest. As someone keen to develop my career, I like to ask about employee development and the opportunities available. It shows that you are thinking about the future. Not all employers do department tours, especially if you are one of 10 interviews that week, so ask them about your working environment; it can help you get a feel for the role if you know that it’s an open-plan or a more enclosed office. You can always tie it in with a ‘day in the life’ question.

Crop faceless multiethnic interviewer and job seeker going through interview
Photo by Alex Green

6. Make a good impression!

I have been to some interviews where the HR manager couldn’t have been less interested and either didn’t offer their hand or did an awful floppy shake. I would offer my hand anyway! Keep eye contact, looking from one to the other or to the person who asked the question. Smile a lot! Watch what you do with your hands; moving them around too much can make you seem unprofessional. Don’t forget to show your enthusiasm!

7. Enthusiasm!

Applying for a job can be daunting, especially if you have a job interview coming up. It is essential to stay focused and positive in an interview and ensure that your enthusiasm shines through. Be sure to provide concise answers while demonstrating your passion and knowledge of the specific role. This can help to boost confidence and reduce nerves leading up to the interview.

8. It’s about you as much as it is about them!

I had an interview with a great company with an excellent reputation. I arrived early and was kept waiting for 15 minutes, but I loved the view and the surroundings. The interviewer was sick, and from the moment the interview began, she made me feel uncomfortable. She was bold, hard-faced and to the point, allowing me no time to ask what I could do. She made me feel awkward and flustered and answered poorly. I wasn’t shocked to discover that they didn’t hire me! Employers sometimes forget that we are also interviewing them. We are not inclined to say yes if we feel uncomfortable or out of place during the interview, and I declined a few opportunities in my time. Some were okay, some pretty bad and some because it just didn’t feel right. I was made to feel like I couldn’t say no, that accepting the interview meant I was obliged to take the job that didn’t feel right. Go with your instincts. If it feels like the commute will be too hard, the job isn’t what you want, or you didn’t connect with your manager, consider whether you won’t want to run for the hills a week into the position.

Man and Woman Near Table
Photo by fauxels from Pexels

9. You become a salesperson…sell yourself!

I’m going to admit that it’s hard to sell yourself. When asked, ‘Tell me one thing you do well.’ I often ramble off something that has nothing to do with the position. Try and make it relevant!

CVs are the first time prospective employers meet us as job seekers. A proper and well-written CV stands between you and the paper shredder! Don’t shy away from mentioning an achievement. You raised £2k for charity doing a bike ride; say it! That’s a fantastic achievement. You’d be surprised that even the most qualified applicants can be turned down because the winning candidate responded with better answers. They proved that they would be a great fit within the company.

10. Follow-Up

There are a lot of misconceptions concerning the ‘after’ interview. If you have an email address or social media contact, send a quick note to thank the interviewer for their time. This gives them the opportunity to A) Remember you and B) That they can give you a response via email.

You travel to an interview, take time off work, and hear nothing! Not even a ‘thank you’ for attending. If you have contact details, give them a quiet call or email and ask.

We should all be given feedback, but it doesn’t always happen.

My Personal Favourites:

A). You didn’t tick all the boxes (what am I meant to learn from that).

B). We went with someone who we felt suited the position more (And that helps me how)

C). We wanted someone who we could train and who had little experience (You wanted to pay £4.00 an hour)

D). We appreciate you attending the interview. You were a fantastic candidate. If anything should come up in the future, we would undoubtedly consider you; however, we thought we wanted someone with more experience (How exactly do I get experience?).

E). It was a pleasure meeting you the other day; your enthusiasm was refreshing! But after careful consideration, we will not offer you the position. We just felt that the job required someone with more administration experience. (I have over ten years of administration experience!) It was, by far, my favourite!

If more people ask for feedback, it will eventually become the norm. So whether you are looking for your first job, an internship during your studies or a complete career change, these tips will help you feel more confident. 

So there you have it—my top 10 tips for attending a job interview! Do you have stories to share? Do you want to add anything that you’ve learned? 

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