How To Ace Your Interview According to a Recruitment Expert
To find out the secret to successful interviewing we spoke with Career Consultant, Leah Lambart from Relaunch Me, whose 15+ years of experience in human resources, recruitment and career counselling have made her a leading expert in the field.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Time Should You Arrive at an Interview?
- 2 What Do You Wear to an Interview?
- 3 What Do You Bring to an Interview?
- 4 How Do You Explain a Gap in Your Skills or Employment?
- 5 What Do You Do if You Get Stuck on a Question?
- 6 When is it Safe to Mention Salary?
- 7 What Are Some Good Questions to Ask the Interviewer?
- 8 What’s the Best Way to End an Interview?
- 9 Bonus Tip: Show Your Appreciation
What Time Should You Arrive at an Interview?
As with any important occasion, timing is everything. For best results, make sure that you know where you need to go before the day itself and if possible, do a practice run getting there so you know exactly how long it will take.
Plan to get to your destination approximately 30 minutes before the interview starts, according to Lambart, this not only provides a little extra time for unexpected delays, it will give you a chance to relax and read over your notes before going inside.
As for when to make your entrance, Lambart says, ‘I would arrive at reception ten minutes before the interview. It gives you time to take a breath and observe the office environment before the interview starts.’
What Do You Wear to an Interview?
You only get one opportunity to make a first impression and nothing matters more than the way you’re dressed, so be sure that you arrive for the interview looking the part.
Lambart suggests that ‘If you suspect that the company may be a little less formal, then sometimes it pays to actually ask the recruiter what the appropriate dress code would be for the interview (ahead of time).’
If you’re unsure how much to dress up it’s always best to be dressed too formal as opposed to not formal enough; after all, this is a great way to show that you are taking the interview process seriously.
What Do You Bring to an Interview?
Knowing what to take to a job interview can make the world of difference because coming prepared will show that you’re a serious candidate who’s ready for anything.
Obviously, if you’ve been asked to bring anything along with you, such as a list of references or original copies of certifications; do so. Having a pen and paper is also a must as this will ensure that you can take notes on any important details that come up during the interview.
Lambart adds, ‘It’s worthwhile bringing two copies of your resume in case the interview panel has not been provided with a copy’. Furthermore, ‘if you’re interviewing for a job that requires examples of your recent work (i.e. a design position) then make sure that you have your portfolio with you.’
How Do You Explain a Gap in Your Skills or Employment?
As tempting as it may be to exaggerate some of your skills and talents in an interview, stick to the facts, because if you lie about what you have done or can do it’s sure to be found out eventually.
‘Authenticity, honesty and integrity will always be appealing attributes to an interview panel, so just be yourself and articulate your own personality traits that are most relevant to the position.’
This way if those gaps come up during the interview you will have a fantastic excuse to talk about how you’re taking a proactive approach to rectifying the situation. Even if you’re unqualified for a job, you can still use skills and knowledge gained elsewhere to highlight your capabilities.
If you’ve been fired from a previous job, address it honestly and highlight what you learned from the situation. Lambart adds, ‘Keep it simple. Don’t go into lengthy explanations, don’t badmouth your previous employer and don’t point blame. Try to keep it positive by focusing on the fact that it was the job or the work environment that were not a good fit.’
What Do You Do if You Get Stuck on a Question?
No matter how well prepared you may be, it’s common to be asked interview questions that you quite simply haven’t prepared for. Whatever you do, don’t panic.
According to Lambart, “…often recruiters do this deliberately to test how you react under stress. The most important thing is to remain calm. You can ask them to repeat the question to give you some more thinking time or to perhaps ask it in a slightly different way if you don’t understand what they are asking.’
She adds, ‘If you are still completely stumped, you could say that you are sure that you do have an example but can’t think of it right now. You can then ask if it is possible to pass on that question and come back to it at the end.’
When is it Safe to Mention Salary?
It can be hard to know if or when to ask about compensation during an interview; after all, even though it’s likely one of the main things you will want to know about, the way that you handle this delicate topic can make or break your chances of landing the job.
Lambart says, ‘The most appropriate time to talk about money really depends on your level of experience and how marketable you are for the role. For instance, at the Graduate level where you don’t have a lot of experience to leverage off, then I would suggest you don’t discuss money at all and just wait until you receive an offer.’
‘If you’re asked what salary range you’re seeking, a good answer is ‘I have been interviewing for similar roles in this salary range’ and then state a reasonable range for what the job entails.
‘It is important to research your market rate prior to attending interviews so you have some idea of your worth and the salary that’s typically seen in that industry.’
‘If you’re a more senior candidate then it can be appropriate to ask about salary range even prior to the interview to ensure you are in the ballpark. No one wants to waste time interviewing for a role if there is a huge discrepancy in salary expectations.’
What Are Some Good Questions to Ask the Interviewer?
Once the panel has gone through their own list of job interview questions they’ll usually enquire if you have any of your own questions to ask the interviewer – this is a huge opportunity for you to gather information as well as to stand out from the crowd.
Lambart says, ‘It’s advisable to have at least 3-4 questions that haven’t already been addressed earlier in the interview. Therefore, you may need to take a list of 6 or 7 questions to make sure that you are not asking questions that have already been answered. You should also ask questions that can’t be easily answered by doing prior research.’
According to Leah, these are the best questions to ask an Interviewer when you go in for that all-important interview:
What’s the Best Way to End an Interview?
Ending the interview well can be the difference between getting the job or not. Lambart suggests ‘…it is always advisable to have practised a closing statement thanking the interview panel for their time and letting them know that you have really enjoyed finding out more about the role and the organisation.’
‘It’s also acceptable to ask at the end of the interview when you could expect to hear back regarding next steps. If you have a timeframe, this allows you to follow up in an appropriate manner without appearing too pushy.’
Bonus Tip: Show Your Appreciation
Regardless of how well or how poorly you think your interview may have gone, it is classy to send a message of thanks shortly after the interview. If the competition is tight this simple step may be what gets you over the line and regardless, it’s sure to leave a lasting impression that could benefit you in the future.
Lambart advises not to wait too long to say thanks, either ‘I would always suggest sending a polite email a few hours after the interview thanking the interview panel for their time and reinforcing your interest in the role.’
No matter what position you’re applying for or how strong your qualifications may be, a polished and professional performance in the interview will always give you a significant edge on your competition
Leah Lambert is a recruitment specialist, with over 15 years of experience in career and interview coaching at Relaunch Me.
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