Getting the Interview is Just the First Hurdle…
Congratulations! Having reviewed your CV, the organisation you are interested in joining has invited you to attend an interview. Your prospective employer would have already read through and assessed your CV thus giving you indication that they are interested or like what you look like on paper.
As you sit in the waiting room you feel a sense of euphoria and excitement at getting past this first obstacle, you may also feel butterflies in your stomach. The thought of attending an interview creates a very uneasy feeling for many people, even though they have crammed their minds full of interview tips and techniques. Although some nervous tension is beneficial to keep you sharp and on your toes during the interview, too much of it is detrimental to your success.
The interview you are about to attend is a part of the selection process by which the recruiter, on the other side of the door, gets to know you better, can analyse your work potential, test your technical skills, measure your problem-solving abilities as well as assess whether your personality would ‘fit’ the nature of the position and culture of the organisation. All these will be done in a very short time.
That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s likely that the most important period of your interview is the first moments after you walk through the door. It all boils down to one thing: you’ve got to sell yourself instantly!
Here’s how to keep recruiters interested and sell yourself in 10 (ideally slow motion) seconds…
Second 1 – Be on Time
Be on time. Do whatever it takes to arrive for your interview with lots of time to spare, rather than hurrying and turning up flushed, in disarray and confused. It is crucially important for you to be as relaxed and stress-free as possible just before your interview so that you can shine in the interview by presenting a strong, positive, accurate, and balanced view of yourself to the interviewer. If required, go to the place of your interview prior to your interview and time yourself.
Allow extra time for traffic grid-locks, parking (if driving) and erratic elevators so that you have a few minutes to calm down, chill out and collect yourself and then go into your interview in exactly the right frame of mind. Even if you arrive on location half an hour early, have a quick coffee, walk around, and unwind. You would want to enter the interview area (office/reception) approximately 10 minutes before the interview is timed to start. It is vitally important that you are very punctual for your interview.
Second 2 – Clear Your Head
Have a clear head and eyes and be confident. In the hours leading up to your interview relax and socialise, play sports, watch TV and rest your brain. Bite the bullet and stay in the night before. A late night ‘boozing’ is not appropriate.
Plan your interview carefully and work out in advance what the likely agenda will be and know where the interview should be heading. Then you will be confident and will have a spring in your step.
The usual format of an interview is as follows:
- Your present and past employers
- The background of the company
- The position you’ve applied for
Consider that most interviewers are as uneasy as you are. They just want the position to be filled by the right person as fast as possible. If you can put the interviewer at ease right at the start and then help the interview move along smoothly, you’ll improve your chances of being selected for the position. This ‘putting at ease’ starts in this next second of the interview.
You must always remember that when you are invited for an interview the prospective employer thinks enough of your CV and cover letter to take time to talk to you; your foot is in the door and you have passed the first major hurdle. If the recruiter didn’t think that you are qualified for the position, he or she wouldn’t waste time on an interview with you.
If you think about your position when you go into an interview, everything is in your favour. The recruiter is interested. You’ve got experience and skills to offer (such as a HND qualification, degree, or even professional qualification) and if you’ve prepared for your interview, you should be able to present your skills and experience in a very effective way.
Second 3 – Dress to Impress
Your clothing should be appropriate for the job position you’re seeking. Your attire must fit well within the office culture and be clean. If you don’t know what the dress code of the company is, call and ask. Shoes should be polished and clothes should be ironed.
You will never be marked down for overdressing but you can be underdressed, so make the effort by dressing to impress! A neat appearance for an interview is essential.
For men, it would be surprising for a recruiter to be unhappy with the fact that you are wearing a suit, shirt, and tie. However, it is possible, if not highly probable that the interviewer may feel disappointed if you turn up wearing jeans for an office based position.
For ladies, dress conservatively and avoid excessive make-up. You don’t want to ruin your chances of getting a good position just because of your appearance.
If you want to leave a lasting memory with the interviewer, it can help if you are not only well presented, but also clean and tidy of appearance. After all, if you get the job you will be a representative of the interviewer’s organisation and he or she will want someone who can reflect a positive impression on their behalf.
Second 4 – Look Interested
Glance around the office. The essential thing is to present a strong favourable interest in the position you have applied for and the organisation. Look interested in learning about the interview, the office, the company, and the position you are applying for. A quick initial glance around the office and a brief nod reflects that interest.
Be totally committed to the interview – in fact you must positively radiate enthusiasm, throughout, for everything to do with the interview.
Second 5 – Remember to Smile!
Smile and look happy. Smile most of the time, and especially from the start of the interview. Laugh quietly at humour, and make frequent eye contact. It is more likely that somebody would like a happy, smiling person more than one who is stern faced and unsmiling.
Second 6 – Body Language Speaks Volumes
Speak with your eyes and your body language. Eye contact during your interview is essential. People with shifty eyes who look everywhere but at the person they’re talking to usually make the other people tense and uncomfortable. Proper eye contact is just a sign of respect that you are attentive to what the other person is saying, listening to what is being discussed and are interested in the conversation. In a subtle and courteous way make your interviewer aware that you consider him or her to be extremely important.
Send the right message by moving confidently, standing upright, and leaning slightly forward in your chair. Make sure if you are interviewed by a panel of people that you make eye contact with each of them. Even if only one individual is asking the questions, they are all there to assess you. You want to give the impression that you consider each person in the room an important part of the interview process.
Second 7 – Introduce Yourself
Introduce yourself formally to begin your interview and under no circumstance speak to your interviewer/s in an overly relaxed manner. Throughout your interview, do not discuss any contentious, controversial, or political topics. Always remain polite and formal, on the topic chosen by the interviewer and deliver clear and professional answers always. Think before you speak and never swear, criticise or overly flatter your interviewer. You never know it may offend him or her.
Remember your listening skills at the introduction stage. Listen attentively to what the other person says initially. In particular, remember the name of the interviewer(s) when he or she introduces themselves, this could be helpful later on when you choose to address them.
Second 8 – Be Courteous
Never show a lack of respect for the interviewer. Instead, be diplomatic and courteous. No matter what your interviewer says to you, always emphasise the positive with a smile and where necessary, address the interviewer as “sir” or “madam”.
Second 9 – Have A Firm Grip
A handshake says a lot about a person. A firm handshake is preferred and should be demonstrated when the opportunity arises. The first handshake leaves a lasting impression so aim for a firm and assertive handshake. This should coincide with a smile and good eye contact for an ideal introduction to your prospective employer. A good strong handshake conveys a lot about a person. A soft, floppy handshake is not liked.
Second 10 – Wait to Sit
Only sit when invited. When you enter the interviewer’s office wait until he or she invites you to have a seat before sitting and relaxing. This is the polite thing to do. Incidentally close the door gently behind you when you enter the room.
Time’s up. You’ve won the recruiter over in ten seconds (hopefully). If you’ve made sure that you’ve planned your interview, practiced answers ready for the questions, and know the questions you yourself want to ask, you should sail through the rest of the interview. One thing is more likely – the interviewer will now be on your side.
Incidentally when the interview is over, don’t forget the last ten seconds as well. Stand up, thank the interviewer, remember the strong handshake and good eye contact, and leave with a smile.
A HND Qualification Takes You to the Ten Seconds
A Higher National Diploma obtained at UK College of Business and Computing is a Level-5 qualification that is equivalent to the first 2 years of a 3 year degree. Employers understand that HNDs are focused on ‘learning by doing’ and that this hands-on approach is an excellent way to develop specific technical/practical skills that are highly-sought after. This qualification can therefore help lead straight to the first ten seconds of an interview.
For further information on the various HND Courses in London and Essex, as offered by UKCBC, contact our team on 020 8518 4994. We will be happy to help answer any questions you may have about obtaining a HND qualification.