After surviving my first month of a new job post-university, I thought it would be useful to list some of the things I wish I’d known when going through the interview process myself a few months ago. Being fresh out of university, I didn’t know much about the world of work or indeed the world of recruiting. Here are some of my top tips to remember:
Do your homework
Whether you’re meeting for a casual coffee or undergoing a formal interview process, my most important tip is to find out everything you can about who you’ll be meeting before you go. If you’ve been asked to come in for an interview, your would-be employer has obviously seen something they like and are willing to give you a chance – what’s key is showing that you like (and know) them too!
Learn what you can from their website to tailor your answers. What events have they been tweeting about recently? Do you have any common connections on LinkedIn? I found looking at my current company’s blog hugely beneficial because I could see what they had been up to recently which made for a great talking point in the interview.
Enthusiasm is infectious, and if you show that you’re interested and engaged with what they’re saying and what they do, it’s more likely that your interviewers will remember you. They’re not expecting you to have all the answers on the day of the interview or to show off your knowledge in a particular theme – those are all things you can learn in time, whereas a good working attitude and willingness to succeed is much harder to teach. Coming across in a positive manner is everything, and enthusiasm will make you stand out.
Interviews can be really intimidating, but taking some time to relax and be yourself can help both parties tell if it’s going to work; from my experience, you can often tell from the first ten minutes whether it’s going to be an environment that suits you.
Although formality is a big part of interviews, showing them your personality is important – you’ll be spending a lot of time there and want to know that you’re going to fit in and can happily enjoy a post-work drink with your colleagues!
It’s great to have questions for the end of the interview because it shows your interest. But there are better ways to approach this. For example, asking how much holiday you are going to get is a bit of a no-no! I found that asking about the culture of the office and getting my interviewer to walk me through a day in the life of the role I was interviewing for was a good start.
A very important point: Don’t lie!
It may sound obvious, but it always ends getting caught in a web. Remember that your interviewer will probably know more about the things you’re pretending to know about than you, so it’s better to tell the truth. Instead of lying, admit that this is an area you don’t have much experience in yet. The important part is being able to highlight that you are willing to learn.
Don’t be scared to pause
If asked a question that you’re not sure about, take a moment to think it through. The interviewer will always appreciate a slightly more thought out response than something you rush to answer or blurt out.
Lastly, if you are thinking of going into an industry like PR or marketing, it’s worth pitching unsolicited by email or phone even if the company hasn’t advertised – this shows initiative and interest, and you never know where knocking on a few doors may lead!
About the author
Eryl Bradley is an account executive at Fourth Day PR