Interviewing is one of the many responsibilities in my role as a manager. In my career thus far as an applicant I’ve attended eleven interviews in person and taken two over the phone with an 85% success rate.
As an interviewer I’ve conducted over fifty in the past twelve months at a hire rate of 40%. According to my HR associate I have the most rigorous screening process as well as being the most difficult manager (out of the six of us) to impress.
I’m going to share what I’ve learned about the interview process through my experiences as an applicant, employee and employer. Some of these points may seem obvious and I really hope they are, but since each of us have access to different resources perhaps mine can teach you something new.
Usually your Curriculum Vitae will have secured the initial interview, let’s look at what comes next;
I’ve noticed dirty fingernails, greasy hair, food stains, even sleepy eye dust.
If you haven’t organised your time, taken pride in your appearance or practised self-care then why should an employer believe you will take pride, care, organise or time manage yourself at work?
An applicant for a bar-tending position might not choose the same outfit as one interviewing to become a banker. A potential social care employee may want to appear softer, more approachable perhaps than a bailiff.
If your prospective employer provides a uniform then lean towards formal or smart casual interview attire depending on the sector. If there is no uniform try to get a look at what other employees are wearing before the day of your interview. (Do they have employee photos on their website? Is it a public facing business? Have you met or noticed any of their employees previously?) I’ve had applicants inquire about dress code at the time of arranging the interview.
If in doubt wear a suit. It is always preferable to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
(Keep an eye on the blog for upcoming advice on what to wear to an interview)
I hate that I have to say it, but I do. You should be between five and ten minutes early to an interview. It doesn’t matter what transport you take, work out a route. Don’t take the last bus, train or tube and allow for traffic if you’re driving. Sure there could be unforeseeable circumstances and in those rare cases CALL AHEAD! Make contact with or leave a message for your interviewer as soon as you think you may not be on time, even if it’s only by five minutes. NEVER make the employer wait.
Try to ensure before arriving that you know exactly where to report to. If you don’t have this information then proceed directly to the nearest reception desk or employee. Politely introduce yourself and ask for directions or check your invite for details of your interviewer and ask for them by name, don’t wait to be found wandering aimlessly and looking confused. Employees talk, their perception of you is important. The interview process begins from the moment you walk through the front door.
When I extend an interview invite it includes a list of documents you need to bring with you, I won’t waste either of our time conducting an interview before I have proof of your eligibility to work (i.e Right to Work Documentation).
If you fail to fully read/listen to your invitation and arrive without the correct pre-requisites, having made no prior contact to explain why, you’re heading straight out the way you came in with no apologies and possibly no second chance.
Not all organisations do this and some may have different requirements, always read/listen to every detail of your invite and come prepared.
Recently the approach to meeting external contacts has changed in my line of work. We cannot initiate physical contact with you in any way, including a typical handshake. YOU can, and if you are comfortable doing so then extend a hand in greeting. Did you confirm the name of your interviewer? Use it.
Simple and formal is best; eye contact –> smile –> extend hand –> Hi/ Hello/ Good Morning *insert name*
You’re in! Step one complete.
DISCLAIMER **The advice given isn’t always manageable for all candidates for a range of circumstances, please do not be discouraged by any points you don’t find achievable.
As an interviewer I am fully trained in discrimination law and hope that all workers in this position of power would be.
The points I’ve raised are either my opinions or my own understanding of others views. They are intended to maximize your chances of successfully gaining the employment you seek, certainly not an exhaustive list and not always applicable to your chosen industry. You may think some represent an outdated view but in a lot of areas these old-fashioned notions still prevail.**
If you found this post useful let me know, share the resource, or check back here to find more employment advice soon.