Interview Tips: Make sure you give the best impression

25th February 2016
Geoff Collings

For many candidates, the interview can be a stressful and challenging occasion. For more senior roles you will probably be called for more than one interview, potentially three or four with different departments and different managers. You may also face a panel. No matter what role you are applying for, the following no-brainer interview tips apply:

Look your best

Unless you are very specifically told otherwise, only a smart suit will do. For the gentleman, a white preferably (or blue otherwise) shirt and a conservative tie. Make sure your shoes are clean and shining. For the lady, a serious professional look is the only one to adopt. Clearly you’re free to wear whatever you like, just remember that the interviewer is free to think whatever they like of your appearance too!

Shake hands firmly

This doesn’t mean enter into a grip war with the interviewer but shake hands with a firm hand. Every manager that I’ve ever spoken to about it, male or female, detest a weak handshake. It leaves an awful first impression.

Eyes and body

In Western culture, if your eyes are darting around you may possibly start to look shifty. Being nervous in an interview is perfectly normal and making and keeping eye contact can be challenging. Work at it and practice at home. It shows you are listening and helps transmit sincerity. Sit up straight and no slouching. If you’re a slouch at interview, what will you be like on the job? If you’re going to cross your legs do it neatly and please don’t fold your arms when you’re being asked questions.

Be polite to everyone, smile

From the moment you walk into the offices of the recruitment consultant or the company who are interviewing you, smile. Smile warmly and openly and greet everyone cheerfully including the guy on the door and the receptionist. If you’re fetched from the lift or lobby area by someone, be polite and perhaps even make small talk. These people are often the personal assistants or colleagues of the hiring manager and they tend to put a word in the managers ear. In the interview itself you’re demonstrating you’ll fit in. You can be both happy in demeanour and serious about your work.

Do your planning

There are two types of question, questions for you and questions for the interviewer. Both are vital. Do your research. You’ll be asked about you and your experiences so have some answers ready and preferably answers that demonstrate some applicability for the role you’re seeking.  You will also be asked if you have any questions. The right answer is yes you do, plenty. Don’t ask things that are glaring on the company website front page however, but dig a little into the organisation. You might end up working there, what is it really like?

Summed up, these are simply about showing good manners and respect. You get these right and the interview is then all about your content. Get these wrong and it may not matter how good you are.