Job interview tips

You've made it through the CV rejection pile and now you only have one chance to shine. No pressure - but like tonnes of pressure. We know that job interviews can be daunting and overwhelming. If you follow these job interview tips, then the role is as good as yours.

A young man is looking for job interview tips. This is a wide-angle image.

Before the job interview interview

Monarch of all interview tips: Ring them up. Really!

We’re starting off with some invaluable job interview tips. If you ring up before your interview and ask more about the position, the company, and the skills they’re looking for, it’ll give you a leg up during the interview process. Not only are you getting insider tips, but you’re also guaranteed to stick in their mind.

“Young people aren’t used to using the phone since they’re usually constantly texting,” says Charlie Ryan, the Recruitment Queen. “That means that if you phone ahead you’re instantly setting yourself apart. Straight away the interviewer’s thinking ‘that’s the one who rang, they must be keen and well-organised’.” You’re basically guaranteed to make a great first impression.

We get that it’s tempting to tweet or email, but that’s just not going to appeal to your target demographic. Remember, employers are still mostly old-fashioned folk who like hearing an actual voice on an actual phone. Unfortunately, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

How to dress for a job interview

This is probably one of the most common job interview tips, but we’re gonna say it anyway. You have to prepare for an interview both mentally AND physically.

Although there are many different types of interview and some jobs that aren’t as formal as others you should still dress to impress. “It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed,” says Charlie. “In the history of the job search, nobody was ever rejected because they were dressed too smartly.”

To clarify, this means a suit or a smart shirt and trousers or skirt. If that’s not in your budget right now, you might be able to get some money to help you buy what you need if you’re claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Make sure your top button is done up, you’re wearing a tie, and any facial hair is groomed. And if you wanna accessorise a little, smart and understated with tasteful jewellery is the safest bet.

Do role-play beforehand

Get your mind out of the gutter – not that kind of role-play. Try finding a mate to ask you standard interview questions, such as ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ and ‘what makes you perfect for this job?’. Then practise the questions and answers aloud. Focus on relating everything back to the job description and person specification. Without practice, you might panic and babble which will prevent the interviewer/hiring manager from getting to know the real you.

Think of examples

Just uttering the words, ‘I’m a really creative person’ doesn’t make it true. But saying, ‘I’m really creative. I have a photography blog which I update three times a week’ will make an interviewer actually believe you. Similarly, if you’re really a ‘team player’ you’ll need to demonstrate it. What kind of team? And what did you actually do that made you such a great teammate?

To help you avoid non-statements e.g. ‘I’m a hard-worker’, make a list of the most common interview questions you might be asked and work out how you’d respond with examples.

Zoom interview tips

If you’ve been asked to do an online interview on Zoom or Skype etc. the same tips apply to Zoom interviews and in-person interviews. Although there are a couple more things to add for online interviews tips:

  • Pick a position with a neutral background free of distractions. Your interviewer should not be able to see your unmade bed or your undies randomly thrown around the place.
  • Do the interview in a quiet spot where you won’t get disturbed.
  • Make sure you have a good internet connection or strong mobile signal if you’re tethering.
  • If your device’s microphone isn’t very good try using some earphones with a mic. For example, the kind you get with a mobile phone, or a headset.
  • Try to look into the camera when you’re talking. That way you’ll be maintaining some form of eye contact.

Job interview advice on the day

Make sure you speak properly

This means no slang, random off-topic chatter, or swearing. Even if the interviewer talks like Gordon Ramsey on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, that doesn’t mean you can. “You’ve got to use formal business language throughout the entire interview,” says Denise Taylor, a career coach. “You’ll be proving that they can trust you to meet business contacts and speak appropriately.”

You should also think about your body language – make eye contact and look alert and interested. For more advice, check out The Mix’s tips for interview body language here.

Good questions to ask at the end of an interview

When the inevitable ‘do you have any questions?’ part of the interview crops up, don’t just ask the over-used: ‘what are the opportunities for promotion?’ Instead, have a few curve-balls up your suit sleeve. Researching the company on social media and finding a quirky thing they do and then ask more about it in the interview is the way to go. It shows you’ve done your homework and will help you make a lasting, good impression.

Job interview mistakes to avoid

If you do the following, and don’t get your dream job… well… don’t say we didn’t warn ya.

  • Don’t be late. Public transport WILL let you down. Take that as a given and leave 10 million hours to get there. If you arrive early, just camp out at a coffee shop, or take a walk to clear your head. No harm, no foul.
  • Don’t lie. Just assume that they’ll find out. You’ll get in trouble. And you won’t get the job.
  • Don’t drag your last boss or colleagues through the mud. Even if they were awful to you, talking them down just makes you seem petty. If asked why you left your last job, just smile and say “I loved it there, but felt ready to take on a new challenge”. Not, “My therapist said fantasising about poking cocktail sticks into my boss’s eyes was unhealthy and it’s best for their safety and mine that I leave.”

Next Steps

By Holly Thompson

Updated on 06-Jun-2022