A job interview is your chance to make a good impression with your prospective employer. In such a competitive UK job market, these initial interviews have become even more important. An article from The Guardian reports that “job creation in the country slowed over the summer“, with job vacancies falling to 812,000 — the lowest since 2017.
With fewer jobs available, scoring a job interview becomes even more crucial as you will be competing against numerous candidates. With the tips below you will be able to make a strong impression.
1. Come Prepared
There are two important things you must do before you undertake the interview. One, research the company, as you will surely be asked about it.
Two, get a good night’s sleep, so you’ll look and feel alert. Additionally, Deepa Somasundari, Indeed’s Director of Client Success, recommends practising answers to interview favourites, like ‘Tell me more about yourself’ and ‘Why are you interested in working here?’ Somasundari also suggests preparing your own questions, as doing so demonstrates your seriousness.
Lastly, remind yourself that you can do well, as our own Zayanne Bako points out in his article on dealing with stress. Think of why you want to ace your interview. Then, let it propel you forward.
2. Make a good first impression
First impressions count, and you can start by dressing the part. Find out the company’s dress code then choose your outfit accordingly. Pay attention to the small details like shining your shoes and keeping your nails short, clean and tidy. Arriving early is also essential for making a good first impression, so make sure you get to the office at least 10–15 minutes early (or even earlier).
3. Sell yourself, but don’t oversell!
Selling yourself doesn’t mean bragging. Rather, it’s talking about your skills and accomplishments. You’ll have to talk about your academic achievements and extracurricular activities, along with the organisations you have been part of. You can also recount specific instances when you used your skills to accomplish something or overcame a challenge. In other words, give the interviewer an idea of how you can best contribute to the company, even as an entry level employee.
4. Be prepared for ‘the salary’ question
‘What is your expected salary?’ is a tricky question for anyone, as you might undersell yourself, or just accept the number given. Comeet explains that the best way to answer this question is to give a salary range (make sure to research industry standards first though). Then, explain how you came up with that number, and emphasise that you’re flexible about it.
Maybe, highlight what you can contribute to the organisation. You can say something like, ‘I’ve seen companies pay £1,700–£3,700 a month for this position. Since I’m entry-level, a starting salary between £1,500 and £2,000 is reasonable, as I have the requisite skills to help the company. Let’s just work together to identify a starting point.’ This answer shows preparation, attention to detail, flexibility and confidence – it will surely leave a positive impression!
5. Answer the ‘weakness question‘ with honesty
‘What are your weaknesses?’ is another hard question often asked. The tendency, as The Independent notes, is to put a negative spin on a positive. An example is saying, ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I’m a perfectionist’. This is ‘humblebragging’, or boasting veiled by a complaint, and it can be a turn off because it makes you look disingenuous.
What you should do instead is just be honest. Tell the interviewer your weaknesses then how you feel you can improve on them. Such honesty will make you look genuine. It will also increase your chances of being recommended for the position you are applying for.
6. End on a strong note
A GQ article on preparing for a job interview points out that many interviewees just stand up and leave when the interviewer ends the interview. This is a mistake.
Rather than behave in such ‘vanilla‘ manner, try to keep the conversation going — gently and surreptitiously. Ask if the interviewer would like to go over something again, or what to do next. Doing this demonstrates a level of engagement that your interviewee will surely appreciate. In turn, this will help you stand out from other candidates and end the interview on a high note.
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