Monday, 16 April 2018

How to ace a job interview

Nobody likes them. Everyone has to do them. Dreaded job interviews: the joyful prospect of sitting across a table from a future employer, being grilled on questions you’ve never thought about before, trying to smile without crying and praying that you’re saying all the *right* things.

The key? Preparation. That’s where this post comes in. This isn’t just for grad jobs- it can be applied to part-time work whilst you’re at Uni or work experience interviews/chats too. I’ve probably had around six interviews in my time, for jobs in everything from a swimming instructor to a waitress in the grubbiest restaurant going. They’ve all been completely different- for one, I had to wait for an hour to be interviewed whilst I waited for the manager to finish chatting to his mate- another was over in about two minutes as it was clear they just wanted some staff. I recently had my first ‘proper’ job interview too and I’ve since been offered to work for them part-time whilst I finish my degree. No matter what the job is, the preparation will always be the same.

So, grab yourself a cuppa…

1) CV

Make sure your CV is up to scratch before your interview, and print it off and take it with you. In my recent job interview the interviewer took time at the start to read over my CV, and asked how up to date it was. Luckily, I could safely say that I had been for a meeting to discuss my CV and had a lot of advice about what to do with it. But if you turn up to an interview with a half-written CV from 2011, chances are you might not get the job.

2) Portfolio prep

This ties in with your CV and largely depends on what job you are going for. My interview was for a reporter job, so I took in examples of my articles for them to look over in a big A3 folder. Similarly, if you’re going for a job where showing examples of your work will help you- take a folder along and it’ll show that you’re motivated and keen. It will also give you something to reference whilst you’re talking and keep you focused.

3) Mock interviews

Googling ‘interview questions for a reporter job’ was a simple but easy way to get an idea of what kind of thing I would be asked in my interview. Of course, you’ve got the general questions as well which most employers ask- what is your greatest achievement, what are your weaknesses, how would you describe yourself in three words, etc. There’s no better way to practice than asking one of your friends to interview you by giving them a list of questions.

4) Read about the company

If you turn up for a job interview with a magazine, for example, and you’ve never read it, you’re pretty much writing moron on your head from the get go. Even if you just look on the company’s website or speak to some of their staff, at the very least you’ll have an idea about the values of the place you’re applying for. It also might help you out in realising whether it is the right place for you to work.

5) Iron your clothes!

Ironing my shirt with a hairdryer the night before an interview really wasn’t ideal (although it did work, surprisingly.) If your student house doesn’t have an iron, don’t leave it until the last minute like I did. Dressing smartly is key- first impressions are everything and if you turn up wearing your great aunt’s battered shoes from the 80’s you’re probably not helping yourself out. Smart trousers, a shirt and blazer- Bob’s your uncle.

I hope this post was useful! I’m no interview expert but I hope that I’ve given you a little bit of confidence that you can do it- with lots of prep and a big smile, you’ll go miles.

Anna x

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