How to ace your interview

Congratulations for turning that application into a job interview. Feel happy that you’re still in the running and don’t start suddenly dreading it. Loads of people exaggerate how stressful they are, or have told you enough horror stories to make the prospect seem pretty daunting. But remember, if you’ve been asked in for an interview then someone has seen some potential – that should already boost your confidence.

There would have been a thorough screening process to sort through the job applications before yours was chosen, so the interview is often mainly about seeing whether you would fit in with the team and what you could contribute.

With this in mind, good communication and people skills are really important so here are ten steps to help you on your way.

1. Hide your nerves 

Ask your friends or family what your worst habits or nervous ticks are so that you can be aware of them and hopefully avoid excessively fiddling with your hair or biting your nails. As soon as you walk in make sure you smile, initiate a firm handshake and introduce yourself clearly. Speak slowly and appear calm, because if they can see that you are nervous it can create an awkward tension. Make sure you come across as confident and calm as possible (even if you don’t feel it inside!).

2. Be on time

There is no excuse for being late so leave at least half an hour extra to avoid traffic, train delays and any other eventualities. If you do get there very early then use that time to compose yourself and remain calm. Don’t announce your presence straightaway because interrupting the interviewer at an inconvenient time isn’t the best start, so wait until ten minutes before your allotted time.

3. Dress smartly and sensibly

Not all jobs would require a suit so try to gauge what would make sense based on the type of job you are going. However, remember that it is better to be too smart than too shabby.

4. Be prepared

Make sure you have thoroughly researched the company, its purpose and maybe its manifesto, so you can show that you’ve taken the time and are interested in this specific job. If it’s the kind of job that would require a portfolio or past examples of work, make sure you bring them well-presented, neat and organised chronologically.

5. Show enthusiasm

The interviewer will be trying to ensure that you truly want the job, so speak with passion because that will be memorable and make you seem like a worthy candidate. Make specific references to this job and this company in your answers, rather than the type of sector or work in general terms.

6. Don’t ramble

Give yourself a few seconds to think about your answer before you reply, and don’t cut the interviewer off in your eagerness to answer the question. Think carefully about what you need to say, but don’t bore them with excessive information so try to be as concise as possible.

7. Don’t be too humble

It may seem awkward and unnatural, but don’t be embarrassed to big yourself up and definitely talk about your unique skills and talents. If you are too self-effacing then you will be less memorable. I’m not saying be arrogant but quiet confidence is an appealing quality in a prospective candidate.

8. Learn from your mistakes

Not all interviews will go smoothly so don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens. Don’t let it put you off going for your dream job afterwards, and just treat any mistakes you might make as a learning curve.