You will have been told many times that employers will make a decision whether to employ you in the first 90 seconds of the interview. What could be more intimidating? Read on for the best advice on how to prepare before you start those 90 minutes.
Tip 1 – Getting there
You mustn’t be late, you mustn’t be late. This is the standard mantra for anyone going to an interview. So let’s make sure you get there on time.
Work out your commuting route. Do test runs once or twice to see if there are any roadworks or whether trains on that line are often cancelled. Work out a contingency route – trains, trams, buses, tubes. Check the timetables and give yourself plenty of time. Don’t rely on “just making it”. Don’t rely on taxis for that last bit of the journey. You will be guaranteed to be snarled up in traffic.
The last thing you want is to arrive red faced and slightly damp.
Talking of damp
Tip 2 – Weather
Check the weather on several different websites. If there is any chance of rain you will need to adjust the tip 1 advice. Remember the British behave differently in the rain and the commute will be longer and more congested. There might, of course, be “leaves on the line” at any time of year.
If there is a hint of rain you will need an umbrella but remember they look awful! Do not grab one of the ones by the front door and then arrive with a very wet tropical fish theme. Make sure you have one that 1. Folds and 2. has a cover; this way you are not dripping through reception. Remember hair styles go haywire in the damp and rain. Can’t suggest anything for that unfortunately.
Tip 3 – What to wear
This tip could go on forever. Let’s be succinct. If you have an interview suit make sure you have it dry cleaned, and of course, make sure you get it back in good time. It is no use banging on the door at 5.30 pm with your interview at 9.00 am the next day.
Men, invest in a really good quality shirt, iron it really well and invest in a really good tie. Choosing a tie I will leave to you but I do know that you have to tie it perfectly. Practice. Watch the videos. Even if the interviewer looks sloppy they will notice that you look so much better.
Ladies, the skirt length. Yes, I know we should have the freedom to wear what we like but this is an interview. Standing up looking in the full length mirror you look great and the skirt is the perfect length. Now you need to sit down in front of the same full length mirror and see how much the skirt rides up. How much thigh shows? If it is too much then be aware that you will start to fidget in the interview and keep pulling it down.
Tip 4 – Coffee / tea
We all know that we have to arrive in plenty of time for the interview. Why not sit in that café across the road and have a coffee / tea to kill the time and run through your notes? Don’t. You can sit in the café and read your notes but don’t drink anything. You can guarantee that you will take that first sip, it will be boiling hot, and you will spill it down your front. And then you have basically lost all your inner calm.
And even if you do decide to ignore this advice and go to a café and have a coffee / tea, make this day an exception and don’t bring your reusable cup with you. It’s a great sentiment but you don’t want to walk into the interview with a slightly smelly, dribble marks down the side, faded plastic thing.
Tip 5 – Walking into the interview
Yes, we know about the firm handshake and the direct eye contact. Tick. But it is winter and you have a big coat. It’s raining and you have a damp, but beautifully folded umbrella. You have an overnight bag because you have travelled a fair way to the interview.
And ladies, cut all the rubbish out of your bag and have just the three or four main essentials – purse, phone, glasses, brush, mirror, and absolute minimal touch up makeup items (not the full make up cum pencil case cum make-up artist tool bag). In fact, the ideal would be to have an interview bag just the right size to hold the above.
If you can’t avoid having any of this, try not to take it into the interview. Trust me, there won’t be anywhere to put it. You don’t want to be fussing with finding a coat hook, apologising about the damp umbrella, the clip undoing on your handbag and everything falling out. Ask if you can leave it in reception or in the office next to the interview room. If they insist on it coming in with you just think of a graceful way to put it all down and don’t fuss or apologise endlessly. Unless your umbrella pings out and it sprays them with rain!
Remember you only have 90 seconds. Don’t waste any of them.
This excellent advice comes from the experts at Oxford Media & Business School. Graduate students from their Professional Business Diploma leave the course confident and capable to secure any job in any business sector. OMBS teaches students all the advanced workplace skills employers are looking at interview – www.oxfordbusiness.co.uk
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