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The Interview

The day has come and you are heading into your interview. You have done your preparation and now it's show time. No matter how prepared you are, or how you are feeling, there are always things you can do to enhance your chances of success.

Follow the links provided for advice on how to be perform well at your interview.

First impressions count

They say your interviewer will have formed an opinion in the first 7 seconds of meeting you. Smile, adjust your posture and walk into the room with a warm and welcoming smile. Shake hands with every member of the panel in the room making eye contact as you do so.

5 ways to improve a first impression at interview

1. Confident posture
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Posture matters

From the moment you walk into the building you want to impress and appear in control. Body language pays a big part in this and it starts with your posture.

You want to be standing up straight and proud, with your shoulders back and your head up.

If you think about a gymnast about to commence their routine, no matter how they are feeling they will have excellent posture – which gives you the impression they are confident and ready to impress.

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2. Big smile
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Smile through the nerves

Greeting someone with a big smile is immediately going to exchange a good feeling between the two of you.

Whether you are saying hello to the reception team or meeting your interviewer, your smile will give a good impression, and it will be infectious – so you will likely receive one in return.

This will likely put both you and your interviewer at ease, and may help calm any pre-interview nerves you have.

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3. Positive eye contact
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Eye contact

When you meet someone you should look them in the eye, and pair it with a smile.

By looking at someone you are showing them that you respect them, you are generally happy to be meeting them and that you have confidence.

It will help to build an immediate connection with them, so that conversing becomes easier.

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4. Firm handshake
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The handshake

A firm handshake when you meet someone for the first time can greatly improve their impression of you within a second.

Along with positive eye contact, a big smile and open posture – a decent handshake can give your interviewer the impression that you are in control and confident about what you are doing.

If your handshake is weak – it may give the impression that you are unsure, or timid, which might raise questions over whether you will be able to handle the role – no matter what it is.

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5. Polite small talk
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Build a rapport

When you greet your interviewer, it’s often a good idea to make polite small talk with them initially to help build a rapport with them before you get into the specific interview questions.

If this is the case we recommend keeping it simple, and talking about an every-day topic like the weather, travel or perhaps a local event that has taken place.

Whatever the subject - keep it short, positive, and try asking them a question.

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Read and work the room

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If more than one person is interviewing you, make sure you don’t only focus on the person asking most of the questions.

It may well be the interviewer who says nothing who makes the final hiring decision, so maintain regular eye contact with everyone in the room.

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The words and tone you choose to use in an interview can help shape the interviewers opinion of you throughout the interview.

When asked a question, take a moment to think about your answer and the best way to phrase it. It's best to be as diplomatic and succinct as you can, and focus on the positives of the situation

Competency based questions make up a large part of most job interviews. They allow you to demonstrate your experience as well as the qualities attributed to how you approach a task, problem or challenge.

Using the STAR technique (situation, task, action, result) will help structure your answers showing your interviewer that you are clear, concise and cover off how your previous experience relates to the role you are interviewing for.

See more information about using the STAR technique under the preparing for interview advice

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The big 5 questions and what to ask

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The big 5 questions you will get asked at interview, and how to answer them

Walk into any first stage interview, and the chances are you will get asked one of these 5 interview questions. You know they’re coming, so be prepared, and be ready to answer.

Read the blog to find out more

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What to ask your interviewer before you leave the room

You’ve wowed them from the start, answered all their questions, it’s now time to turn the tables and put your interviewer under the spotlight. There are 3 questions you should ask your prospective employer before you leave the interview room.

1. What are the top 3 challenges for a person in this role? If you’re lucky enough to be offered the role you want to know what you’re getting yourself into. This question will give you some idea of the issues you will have to confront if you get the job and what kind of resources will or won’t be made available to you to deal with them.

2. What does success look like six months into this job? As well as reassuring the interviewers you’re the motivated, goal-orientated type, this question will clarify what the KPIs are that you might be judged on and what you’ll need to prioritise if you are offered and accept the job.

3. What happens now? You want to avoid either inappropriately pestering the recruiter or missing out on a valuable opportunity because you failed to follow up. Ask the interviewer how long you should wait before following up if you don’t hear back and whether they would prefer to be phoned or emailed.

For more information on what to ask during an interview see our blog.

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End on a high

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No matter how you felt the interview has gone, and whether or not you want to know more, it''s always good to close on a positive note. The end of an interview is your last chance to highlight your best qualities, be polite and enthusiastic.

While remaining mindful of the interviewer’s time it is expected and appropriate that you aim to leave a positive impression by:

  • Briefly mentioning any of your relevant achievements or skills that haven’t come up
  • Thanking the interviewer for their time
  • Emphasising your interest in the job (you’re much more likely to miss out on it for appearing too diffident than you are for seeming too eager)

If you decide the role is not for you, you can still end the interview leaving a good impression. You never know what opportunities might be around the corner, and when you might cross paths with people in future.

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Find out more about preparing for interviews, or what to do after the interview by following the links.

Preparing for interviews What to do after the interview

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