The last time I went for an interview (December 2015) I was a new mum to a four month old baby, tired, about three stone overweight, exhausted, jobless, worried about living off maternity allowance for too much longer, and did I mention tired? I managed to get myself an interview for a job I really wanted, not only was it in the sector I had worked in previously, but it was also a great job doing the stuff I really enjoy, and the salary wasn’t too shabby either!
I have found myself in situations before, where I was so desperate to get the job I was being interviewed for, not because I wanted the job particularly, but because I was so desperate to leave the one I was in, I think that’s probably the only thing shone through! Im one of those slightly strange people, that despite getting increadibly nervous and anxious before an interview, really actually quite enjoy being interviewed. I know Im pretty good under pressure and I can ‘talk the talk’. Im relatively receptive to how interviews are going, and who is interviewing me. I always go into an interview with a ‘game plan’ if you like, or having at least done my homework.
When things look bleak here are my top tips!
Do you really want the job?
If you do, for whatever reason, desperation, career progression whatever it is, if you really want the job you are going to have to do your homework. Accepting an interview invite is a time commitment and preparation commitment. If you do not have the time to spare to do the preparation, you will be in for a tough ride.
Do your homework
Who is interviewing you? Google them, LinkedIn them, do a bit of friendly internet stalking. If its a sector you know well, subtly ask about them. This is especially important with very senior people, if you know they were awarded XYZ last year, or did that piece in the Times, they’ll like you to mention it at interview.
Know the organisation inside out
Boring, but read their annual report. See if they have any social media presence, make sure you know who their board members are, execs and non-execs. Look for their last top ten news stories on Google. Always be prepared to answer a question on the organisation’s future direction (e.g. where will Art of Glam Corp be in the next five years time?) and biggest achievements over the last twelve months. If they have a vision, values, or even a simple strapline – make sure you know if off by heart. If you have a rubbish memory, write it down and stick it in a notebook you can take with you to the interview.
You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you
Make sure your questions at the end are not all about time off, holidays, pay negotiations, free tea and coffee, parking etc etc etc. In fact never talk money at an interview! Let them offer you the job first = ball in your court! The questions you ask should be inspired and insightful. If they haven’t asked you about the direction of the organisation in the future, make sure you ask. If you’ve found something in your researching that you would like to know more about, ask now. My killer, is always asking the interview panel members why they chose to work for the organisation. Its rarely expected, and you tend to get honest answers off the cuff.
Never ever, ever be late! As in never! If you are using public transport, or going somewhere you haven’t been before, give yourself double the amount of time you think it will take you to get there. If you are going to be late, ring them at let them know – but its really bad form!
Take your notes / homework with you and put it on the table in front of you during the interview. This not only gives you some confidence in terms of something to refer to if you get stuck, but it also says look at all the homework I did!
If the thought of fitting into a suit makes you shudder, a pretty summer dress / jacket combo works really well. I try to wear at least one bright colour with a more professional business suit. E.g. black suit with a very bright yellow shirt. Find the bright colour that suits you and then wear that. It makes you memorable and different in a good way! Also get your suit professionally cleaned before hand (especially important if you havent worn it for a while, or small people’s sticky fingers may have been near it!). If you are unemployed lots of dry cleaners will offer this service for free.
Pack your bag the night before
Dont leave anything to chance. You will need:-
- Fully charged mobile phone
- Interview offer letter, contact details for the person who is interviewing you, directions / map
- Hairbrush (give the barnet a little fluff and puff!)
- If your skin gets shiny, like mine, make sure you’ve got blotting paper or your powder
- Cash – £10 in case you get so lost getting to the interview / or you are running late you need a taxi
- Your interview prep and homework
- ID, or any other requirements they have asked you to provide
If they offered you an interview based on a dry piece of paper with a list of your previous jobs and qualifications, they are going to flipping love you in person! You have done your homework, you know their 2015/16 balance sheet by heart, you can recite the company song, you look awesome in your bright green dress, you rock, you got this!
*If you are mega into prepping I can highly recommend the book in the photo. This is a great book for prepping on difficult to answer interview questions and is by Martin John Yate, I’ve had mine for a really long time so it’s not likely to be in its 6th edition any more as mine is.
Good luck 🍀🍀🍀