Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me! (Interview etiquette)

You’ve got an interview – brilliant! Well done you! That’s the hard bit over right!? Not quite. Interviews can be gruelling, confusing and sometimes downright mean!

But it’s not all scary. The reason you’ve been invited to interview is because the employer has already seen something in you they like. All the time you spent getting your CV just right has paid off – they clearly like you! Now it’s your job to bring what you wrote to life.

You’ve just read the email/ had the call inviting you to interview, what should you do next?

  • Write down the details – where it’s going to be, what time, what date. You don’t want to turn up a week early or worse a day late!
  • Work out how you’re going to get there. Check train or bus times. Find the best route online, if you’re driving, and allow more time than you need just in case of traffic!
  • Think about what you’re going to wear.

As a rule of thumb it’s always better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed.

So a smart pair of trousers, a shirt and tie for the boys; girls, trousers of knee length skirt, opt for a smart top too – nothing see-through or with a plunging neckline! Make sure your shoes aren’t scruffy or covered in mud. And maybe book a haircut if your hair is getting a bit wild.

Most employers use interviews to see whether you match up to your CV, and if the experiences you’ve written about have prepared you for the job-in-hand.

It’s worth spending some time formalising answers to some of the most common interview questions like: “Why do you want to work for us?”; “What is your greatest achievement?”; “What are your weaknesses?”

When you walk into the room you want to feel confident and able (even if you’re shaking inside).

Smile. Shake hands firmly with each person in the room, making eye contact. If you start to get nervous take deep breaths, speak slowly, and take your time – this is when having ready-made answers to draw upon can really help!

Most interviews last about 45 minutes to 1 hour, but the time will go past much faster than you expected.

At the end of the interview the panel will probably ask if you have any questions to ask them. Don’t ask about holiday entitlement, salary or the tea rota. I always think it’s good to ask about the size of the team you will be working in, what interaction you will have with other departments, how your role fits into the broader workings of the organisation. Just make sure you ask something! Then shake hands again, smile and leave a great lasting impression with the panel.

And that’s it. If you’re lucky you may find out that day whether you’ve been successful but it may take up to a week depending on the organisation. Just do your best and be your (professional) self. Go get ‘em!


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