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How to Nail the First Interview

Congratulations, you’ve made the shortlist! But hold your horses, you’re not there just yet. Whether your next step is a phone interview, face to face or some new, tech-savvy skype-meets-virtual-reality interview, we’ve pulled together our top tips to put you in tip-top shape for that interview:

  1. Swot up

Have you ever wondered how the rich kids of Silicon Valley got to where they are now? They did their homework. It pays to be a teacher’s pet and know a subject (i.e. company) inside and out. So get clued up and do your homework on the company, its competitors, the interviewer, your potential new colleagues, your could-be new employer and their work history.

As well as the company’s website for finding out everything you can about the business, try Glassdoor and see what others are saying about it. LinkedIn is a great source for stalking (ahem, ‘staying curious about’) people you may be working with or for. Beauty is in the detail, so make sure you can reiterate (and understand) the company’s key figures, strategies and markets. This is vital for your own knowledge, and will help you to understand the companies markets, audiences and scale of growth. And will hopefully make your interviewer raise their eyebrows too!

  1. Get social with your interviewer

Now, we’re not suggesting you start liking their photos on Instagram, or ‘acknowledging’ their Facebook posts. LinkedIn however is a safe place to connect, and shows that you are proactively preparing for an interview. See if the prospective employer has a LinkedIn account, and if so, connect with them.

First introductions generally move more smoothly if you can pre-empt who you are meeting or going to be talking to. Enabling the interviewer to put a face to your name could make the first step of the first interview that little bit easier both - for them and you!

  1. First impressions are everything, well mostly!

First impressions really are everything, even if your first impression is over the phone or email. It is of course easier to portray the professional you in a face-to-face situation with an interviewer as opposed to a phone interview. Face-to-face interviews mean you can use visual cues and facial gestures to communicate, whereas in a phone interview you have little more than different pitches to play with.

Regardless of the type of interview, it’s important to find your inner ‘professional voice’. Remember to smile whilst you speak (in person and over the phone, interviewers will notice!), be enthusiastic about the company and the role, be confident, but of course - and most importantly – be you! After all, the company and interviewer are looking to hire you and not a robot.

Another P.S., if you think you didn’t perform your best on the first impression then don’t panic, you haven’t failed. You simply learned a lesson. We all deserve a second chance - we’re only human after all. That’s why we ‘mostly’ believe first impressions are everything!

  1. Establish a rapport

Pull out the common ground between yourself and the interviewer. Building rapport is fundamental when forming work relationships. Pinpointing common connections could out you in the fast lane to bagging the job. Get relatable about the hobbies/experiences/passions the interviewer has and liken them back to you, your past work experiences, and skills and abilities.

  1. Leave them wanting more

Closing questions can make or break a phone interview; they are the last thing the interviewer remembers about you. So make sure the memories you leave them with are positive and professional. Finish the conversation on a high, by reiterating why you believe you are THE person for the role, and why your capabilities, experience, skills and personality matches what the company is currently seeking.

Secondly, show that you value your long-term aspirations and commitments by asking what the interviewer will expect from you, your growth within the company and predictions for the company as a whole. Whether the company is heading for global domination or staying on Small Street, this is something to crosscheck with your career goals.

And finally, is this job right for you? This is an opportunity to discover whether the role is suitable for you, so be curios and ask why they are hiring. Expanding? Replacing? New position?

Good luck!


By Heather Doherty

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