First impressions count when it comes to acing that interview

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Getting interviews right can be tricky, even if you’re confident in your ability to do the job you’re applying for.

Overcoming nerves and the pressure of the day to put in your best performance can throw even the most experienced candidates off balance, so here are some step-by-step tips from Laura Holden at jobs website reed.co.uk, to help you through the interview process.

Prepare answers to questions you may be asked

You can’t prepare answers to every possible question, but you can prepare for the most likely ones. Make a list of questions you’re likely to be asked and prepare some bullet points for each one. Common questions may include: “Tell me about yourself”, “Why do you want this job?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” and “What are your weaknesses?” If it helps, rehearse your answers with a friend before the big day.

Research the company

Most companies will expect you to come to an interview armed with a basic understanding of how they operate and what they do. It’s also a good idea to research the marketplace, know who their main competitors are and what distinguishes them from the competition. At the very least, you should check their company website and prepare a few talking points.

Research the role

This goes beyond reading the job description, and could involve anything from talking to people already doing the job to find out what their day-to-day work entails, to reading industry blog posts. Make sure that for each requirement listed in the job description you have an example in mind of when you have demonstrated that skill.

Prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview

Prepare questions for your interviewer. If you can, link your question back to something earlier in the interview, for example: “You say your company has a collaborative approach. What kind of person do you think will thrive in this kind of environment?”

Dress the part

Selecting the perfect interview outfit can be a minefield. You can ask the recruiter or hiring manager what the dress code is, but sometimes this isn’t prescriptive enough to make a decision on the right outfit. If in doubt, drop by the office to find out what other people are wearing and aim for something similar.

First impressions count

However unfair it may seem, often the first few seconds when you meet your interviewer can have a lasting impression and make or break your interview. Make sure you check off all the basics: smile, give a firm handshake and be confident.

Be aware of your body language

An interview isn’t the most natural environment, so it’s easy to come across as a little stiff. Keep your body language open during the interview. Avoid folded arms, or distracting behaviour like fiddling with a pen.

Follow up

As a courtesy and to ensure you’re front of mind, after your interview drop your interviewer a quick follow-up email. Use the opportunity to thank them for their time, express your enthusiasm for the role and ask for feedback on your performance.