Nail that first impression!
First impressions count – make sure to present yourself in the most positive light possible with the correct attire, body language and attitude!
Attire and appearance
The way you dress for your interview is hugely important. It might be a cliché, but if you dress for success, you give yourself one less thing to be marked down for by your interviewer.
The look you should aim for is smart. For more corporate roles, such as those in finance or business roles, you should aim for a really polished look, but for more creative positions, the expectations are likely to be more relaxed. Research the company beforehand to get a feel for what might be expected. Whatever you wear, it’s important to feel comfortable. Turn the page for some professional fashion inspiration.
Also never underestimate the importance of cleanliness – for example, try to avoid smoking immediately before your interview – a strong nicotine smell will make you stand out for all the wrong reasons.
Looking good on the day of your interview is about so much more than what you wear. It is important to consider your whole demeanour.
Keeping your body language under control is one way of managing your interview anxiety. Don’t underestimate the power of your body language – a few simple faux pas and you risk coming off in a bad light. A simple trick is to remain aware of what you’re doing with your mouth, eyes, hands and posture.
Mouth: Don’t forget to smile! A friendly face is a powerful ice-break which will help both you and the interviewer ease into conversation. Looking positive is also an easy way to convey your motivation and enthusiasm, but be careful not to overdo it – you don’t want to look desperate.
Eyes: Eye contact can be very persuasive. You shouldn’t stare at your interviewer, but by allowing your gaze to meet theirs, you will seem engaged and confident. Every time you look away, it may appear as though you’re trying to avoid their question. If in a panel interview, remember to make eye contact with the person who asked you the question.
Hands: The opening handshake is something you need to get right. No one wants their fingers crushed, but you do need to ensure that the shake is firm. During the interview, keep your hands under control. Appropriate hand gestures are fine, however tapping the desk, crossing your arms and fidgeting will make you look distracted. Relax and rest them gently in your lap.
Posture: When perfecting your interview posture, it is necessary to go for the middle ground. Teetering on the edge of your chair will make you appear nervous, whereas slouching seems too relaxed, and possibly even overly confident. Instead, sit up straight. A good tactic is to lean forward slightly whilst being spoken to, in order to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Interviews can be a stressful experience, but it’s crucial to not let your emotions get the better of you. There are two main traps that interviewees tend to fall into; they can either be too nervous, or alternatively, they come across as overly confident.
There are measures you can take to remain calm throughout the meeting.
Preparation: make sure you’re ready to answer questions about the company and the role.
Punctuality: if you arrive with little time to spare, you place yourself under unnecessary stress, and will get flustered.
Breathe: maintaining a measured breathing pattern is a simple method of meditation which will allow you to remain in control.
Listen: if you allow your thoughts to race and you miss parts of a question, you’ll just feel more stressed.
Put things into perspective: what is the worst that could happen? It can be upsetting to not get the job that you want, but there will be other jobs that you can apply for.
Confidence vs. Arrogance
Don’t let your confidence come across as cockiness!
Modesty: remember, confidence and modesty do not have to be mutually exclusive. A confident person will be able to recognise their strengths without showing off.
Conversation: respect the flow of the conversation. Don’t bombard the interviewer with a record of all your achievements and accolades. Have the confidence to know that the few examples you select are the right examples.
Superiority: Never suggest that a role might be below you. Even if you are being interviewed for a job which you think you are overqualified for, be confident that this will contribute to your personal growth. An employer is looking for someone they think will fit into their organisation. They don’t want to feel threatened.