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So a recruiter has called to offer you an interview. As soon as you put down the phone, the countdown on your time to prepare begins.
As every ideal recruitment candidate knows, creating pre-prepared answers to potential interview questions isn't a good idea. Instead, we suggest you get your game face on, devise a simple checklist of steps to success and get to work.
1. Figure out who they are and what they want
Before the day of the interview, one of the best things you can do is research the company itself, its culture and the roles and responsibilities of the role you want to land. The company's official website or LinkedIn is a great place to start - be sure to look into the company's history and mission statement as well as familiarising yourself with the people you might be working with.
It's important to understand what an interviewer will expect from you by reviewing the assessment criteria laid out in the job description. Be sure to think about the ways you can demonstrate the skills and experience they are asking for in an interview. For example, your ability to be calm under pressure can be simply demonstrated by smiling and maintaining your cool even in the face of a difficult question.
2. Ensure your personal presentation is on point
Planning what you're going to wear ahead of time will help you to ensure that you have the appropriate attire ready to go. If you have a lucky "power suit", make sure it's dry cleaned and set aside for the big day (and not still in the laundry basket as you're running out the door in the morning).
Recruitment season can be a busy time and you could end up having to attend a number of interviews in a short period, so having a few clean 'interview outfits' on rotation is a good idea.
If you're having trouble figuring out what you should wear, do some research into the company's dress code by looking at team photos on their social media or check out our dress for success guide. Your personal presentation doesn't stop at what you're wearing - your hair should be clean and brushed, and all makeup and facial hair should be minimal and neat. These tips might seem like common sense, but they're an important step that people may forget when they're running late or disorganised.
In the case of a video interview, it's a good idea to ensure the area behind you that is visible to the interviewer is clean and tidy. Nothing leaves a worse impression than a messy room - well, nothing other than having sleep in your eyes or a forgotten toothpaste smear on your face. On another note, it might seem strange but don't forget to be properly attired on your lower half for a video interview. Often people think they can discreetly wear pajamas, but just don't take the chance. It can be obvious when you move around and looks unprofessional.
3. Don't be late!
It won't be listed as a desired skill in the job description, but being on time - or even a little bit early - should be your top priority.
One of the great things about living in 2018 is that we have apps to help us find our way so we don't get lost! Organise your travel plan ahead of time. You can use Google Maps and Street View to help to get familiar with new locations. If you're planning on driving, consider the traffic. Take an alternate route during peak hours or stick to public transport to avoid getting stuck all together. Public transport can also be unpredictable and even one delayed connection could mean you arrive late.
Making sure to leave a half-hour 'buffer' before your interview is a good rule of thumb.
4. Turn off your phone
Once you've arrived at the interview location - be it office, foyer or café - turn off your phone. It's not a good look if it rings in the middle the interview, and even worse if it disrupts the rapport between you and the interviewer. Removing all distractions will ensure that you are focused on the interview from the moment you walk in. Keeping your phone in your bag or pocket also means your hand is guaranteed to be free to shake the interviewer's hand.
If you are interviewing over the phone or via video call, find a quiet room where you can reduce the number of distractions from the outside world. Make sure your dog isn't at your feet in case it barks at the mailman, or your cat isn't likely to walk across your keyboard. Always take the call in private, in your bedroom or study with the door closed, so there is no chance of your family or housemates being around.
5. Figure out exactly what you want
It's important to have your goals in mind when looking for the next step in your career. Is the job you have applied for going to get you to where you want to go? Will it help you achieve your short and/or longer-term goals? What new skills and expertise are you hoping to accrue?
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself before you go into your interview to ensure you get the most out of the opportunity. If you are unsure how to answer any of the questions you are asked, be upfront and admit that it's an area that you're looking to improve upon. Being honest and asking questions will show that you are very interested and willing to develop your abilities in line with the role.
No matter how it goes, a job interview is an invaluable learning opportunity. Don't get too worked up beforehand and don't dwell on it for days afterwards. Sending a polite follow-up email to the recruiter the next day, thanking them for taking the time to meet with you, is a nice gesture. Make sure you take some time to relax after the interview. You've done all you can do, and it's now time to look towards the future.
Want more from your summer break? Take part in the 2018 Achiever Programme - gain valuable work experience in accounting and finance and stand out from the crowd when applying for future roles.
Top skills finance and accounting graduates need for success
Even though it’s sometimes hard to tell whether you have nailed your job interview, the only thing to do is give it your best shot.