Just as Covid-19 changed the work landscape in 2020, 2021 continues to be a very different world to the one we were experiencing pre March 2020.
We spoke to our directors to get their definitive advice on interviewing, not just generally, but also in the current Covid-19 world. Give yourself the best chance to impress by taking some of these hints and tips on board.
Do Your Homework
The more you know about the employer in advance, the less time will be wasted by them having to explain things about the company that you could have found out beforehand. Plus you will feel more confident and will be able to ask better and more relevant questions.
Check out their website for nuggets of information. You may be questioned on what you know about the company and why it appeals to you, but if not you can just drop your prior research into the conversation.
You can look on Companies House for basic financial information on the company.
Use LinkedIn to search for the company and lookup the name(s) of the people who will be interviewing you. Don’t be shy about clicking on the person so they can see you’ve been viewing them, it shows interest.
Remember to find out your interviewers positions in the company so you understand who is responsible for what and who is likely to have the final say in the hiring decision.
First Interviews Are Often Held via Telephone or Video Call
Know how long the online interview is expected to last. The technical details for the appointment will often be sent out as a Calendar item and will have a start/finish time so that will be a good guide.
Make sure your technology works. If your interviewer is using Zoom, Teams or Skype (or any other platform for that matter) make sure you have the app loaded. Test the app is installed correctly and that you can login in, at least 24 hours beforehand. Ideally get a friend or colleague or family member to install the same software on a different device and do a trial run, again at least 24 hours beforehand so you have time to iron out any snags.
Make sure that you are not seated with your back to a window, as back-lighting will mean you will appear as a silhouette.
If the call is via phone and you are using a mobile, make sure you are in an area where the reception is good.
Video interviews can be with one or more people, so be ready to face questions from one of more interviewers on screen.
Remember video etiquette, don’t worry about leaving short pauses before you answer to consider your reply and to ensure you don’t talk over each other.
Face To Face Interviews in Person
This could be either the initial meeting or following on from a video interview. The interview is most likely to start with a simple meet and greet. You may be introduced to people you could be working with or perhaps the person who is interviewing you initially will be from HR and not part of the working team. Either way try to find some common ground after you have met and are on your way to the interview with the person with hiring responsibility, it helps to break the ice. An interview is half about discovering whether you will fit into the company culture, and everyone at the company is part of that.
Whether in person or by video getting the dress code right for your interview can be tricky, but if in doubt you should always steer towards the smarter options in your wardrobe. It is almost impossible to be over-dressed but being too casual can leave the wrong impression. The general rules for the best first impression are:
· Smile. It's simple, but when you're nervous you might forget to let your personality shine through
· Look good. Being smartly dressed and well groomed will show that you have made an effort
Whatever You Do, Don't Panic
Preparation, preparation, preparation. You want to make the most of your interview, so don't waste the opportunity by not being prepared. Making sure you know enough about your prospective employer, have thought about the questions they might ask and have planned what to wear, all well in advance, will all help you to feel positive on the day.
For a visit to site, make sure you know where you are going and leave in plenty of time. Ideally to a test-run a couple of days beforehand so you know what to expect. Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes early, it’s surprising how quickly time vanishes when you suddenly caught out by not being able to locate the premises or are not able to find anywhere to park nearby.
It is quite normal to feel a bit nervous at a job interview. It's just your body releasing adrenaline to help you focus and deal with the challenge at hand.
· Try taking slow deep breaths while you're waiting to go in and use the nerves to give you that little boost you need to do well.
· Finally, don't leave things to chance, prepare as much as you can, including a map, directions and transport - after all it's better to be 20 minutes early than five minutes late.
Mind Your Body Language
Here are some things you should definitely do:
· Follow C-19 protocols including maintaining appropriate social distance.
· Smile as much as possible, especially when being asked a question.
· Maintain eye contact with all the people interviewing you.
· Hold your arms in a relaxed position rather than crossing them in front of you.
· Sit up straight, and try not to fidget.
· Speak clearly, listen carefully and think before you answer.
Psychometric and Aptitude Testing
Some companies will use psychometric and/or aptitude testing as part of their selection criteria. This is quite normal and demonstrates a good degree of rigour and consistency on the part of the employer. Ensure all questions are answered as accurately and as honestly as you can. You can’t fool a psychometric test and inconsistent answers don’t look good.
Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to act naturally. If you try to be someone you're not, it'll show. Rather than worry about what you are going to say, just try to concentrate on what the interviewer is asking so you are sure you understand the question. Don't interrupt them but if you aren't sure what they mean it's best to ask for clarification.
Being well-prepared will really help with this and is the single best thing you can do to give yourself the best possible chance.
Look out for our article coming next week that will look in more detail at some of the questions you could be asked. This should allow you to consider how you might answer them prior to the interview itself so you can be as prepared as possible and not flummoxed or caught off guard by a question you weren't expecting.