Interviews can be tough, even more so when everyone you meet in the days leading up to the interview gives you “expert” advice on what to wear, when to arrive, how to sit, correct and incorrect handshakes, the list goes on.
Your parents, friends, cousins, people who may never have been in a formal interview, all have “expert advice” on what interviewers like and dislike. They can all give helpful, and some less helpful tips on interviewing.
While it is crucial to arrive on time for an interview, 5 to 10 minutes is more than adequate. Arriving 20-30 minutes can be unsettling for the interviewer. They will be notified you are in reception and will need to come greet you (even though they would be in the middle of their previous task). For you, you spend the 30 nervous minutes sitting in an uncomfortable chair, deciding which magazine to read.
What to do: Plan your route the day before your interview. Arrive with time to spare and prepare for the interview in your car, a nearby café, etc. until 10 minutes to the interview.
Most interviewers will offer you a drink — Water, tea/coffee. In reality, it is often a bother for them to make a cup of coffee or tea and can waste precious interview time. This can start the interview on the wrong foot and affect the overall outcome.
What to do: Unless the beverage is right there, or you need a drink of water to clear your throat, politely decline.
Typically, human resources professionals do get extensive training in job interviewing techniques — but the average manager is more or less winging it.
What to do: If your interviewer asks vague questions, go into specifics even if they aren’t asked for. Be ready with several concrete examples of your skills and experiences that illustrate why you should be hired for the job.
Often interviewers ask a question to see the way you think, and how you approach your answer is more important than the answer itself.
What to do: If you’re presented with a hypothetical problem and asked to resolve it, try to think of a comparable situation from the past — and talk about how you successfully dealt with it.
Appearance can often be as important as what you’re saying in an interview. Before you say a word, the first thing that speaks is your appearance. Even if you would or could wear jeans on the job, wearing a suit to the interview shows you take the interview seriously as a professional meeting.
Studies have shown that physical appearance plays a big role in hiring decisions. While in an ideal world, skills and qualifications should trump looks, this is often not the case.
What to do: Dress in business attire and ensure you are groomed to a professional level. Remember, first impressions count.