Simple Tips for Smashing an Interview
Interviews can be very daunting! The pressure mounts proportionally to how much you want the job too, not helping interview nerves! Here are the things I have found to help me be successful during job and educational interviews.
Dress for the job you want
I am sure that some people will disagree with this, however I wholeheartedly believe this to be essential. If you want a job as a professional, you need to dress like one. The interviewers first impression is likely to be of how you look, and the way they respond initially will set the mood. This means, if you are interviewing as a healthcare student, student nurse, student paramedic you need to dress as though you are. Some interviews can bring unexpected segments, so you may need to demonstrate CPR, and that does not look great in a skirt. Obviously wear what you look comfortable and smart in and what makes you feel confident, however if your potential job is going to require you to roll around the floor, you may want to demonstrate that with your interview attire.
This also goes with make up, jewellery and accessories. If you are going for a job in fashion or a creative field, use yourself to prove what you know and make yourself look good. If you are applying in healthcare, consider that you may not be allowed to wear make up, paint your hair or wear huge jewellery. I would also recommend not going for outrageous high heels as these can draw attention and look out of place, and be uncomfortable on campus tours! I have found that the best shoes are your old-fashioned pumps or brogues as they go with everything. Whilst you want to show personality and individuality, consider what will show off your best qualities. Use your words and mind to wow them. If your interviewer is distracted by you showing off too much boob or leg, they will not be listening to what you are saying and they will mark you down. Dressing appropriately is a great way to show that you will fit the job.
One final point that I learnt from my boyfriend during his teacher training and teaching interviews is that if wear something memorable, it helps them to remember you especially during discussions afterwards. All of this is variable, and the most important thing it to walk in with confidence, but potentially a noticeable shirt or suit may just make you slightly more memorable for good reasons.
Practice questions out loud more than you think you need to
Thinking of answers to interview questions in your head is much easier than sitting in front of people and answering them. Initially, before all my Paramedic Science interviews, I read through lots of practice questions and even wrote some notes down. Then my boyfriend asked me some questions... I went to pot. I stumbled and muttered and could not get half the words out that I had considered before, by myself. I felt like a rabbit in headlights. I am definitely far more comfortable around my boyfriend than an interviewer for a university and course that I really want to do!
To begin with, talk to yourself in the mirror, practice talking with a smile and speaking slowly, and just talk, talk, talk. Then, try and get a parent, friend, partner or sibling to interview you. When you feel like everything is coming together, speak to your school or college and either get a careers adviser or teacher to run through a mock interview with you. They can push you with questions and give you feedback on how you speak and answer questions. Practice speaking with a smile too, so that it becomes natural. Looking approachable and happy always helps!
So, if you live 30 minutes away from your workplace/university, most of this probably will not apply to you. If you are going to have to put in some serious travel, then this will. Consider staying overnight somewhere before your interview so you can get some proper sleep and food. It may cost money but this is really vital to your brain function on the day. Stressful situations limit our bandwidth, and tiredness does this even more, so do yourself a favour and make life as easy as possible. If you are struggling money wise, consider asking a friend for a favour (even a friend of a friend), look on airbnb or wait until last minute and call any local hotels and see if they can do a deal (and explain your situation). Hotels.com and trivago are okay but you will not get the best deal there. Remember, a hotel will not make anything if that room is not full, they are better off selling it cheaper and getting something for it. Hotels are generally cheap too, further in advance, although this may not be helpful as usually interviews are quite short notice.
If you have to go with a generic hotel brand, try and find a student or NHS discount code. You can usually use these along with cashback schemes. I use Swagbucks for cashback on hotels (and other things) and then the money can be paid into my credit card or paypal account. This means that at least you get something back for what you are spending. If you sign up with this link then you'll get a bonus to begin with.
Consider how you are going to get there. If it is in the city, would public transport be a better idea? Can you park easily? How I did my interviews was my boyfriend came to all of them with me and drove. This was helpful as on the journey I could discuss with him what I was going to say and how I was feeling, and I did not have to think about the actual driving. I understand that this is not possible for everyone, however if you can convince someone to come with you, it is much nicer, gives you less to think about and is less scary, and although you may think in advance that you do not need them, at the time you will appreciate it!
Bring all your information and go to every interview
I do not think you can be too prepared for an interview. Usually places will tell you what to bring, however recently I have found that this is not the case. I would recommend bringing information such as previous school and workplace names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers, passport number, driving license number and references contact details. It is probably not the end of the world if you do not have them however it makes application forms much quicker and means you do not need to take everything home with you. Other things I have recently been asked for are certificates, public liability insurance details and GCSE and A Level results. If you are able to write these down in your diary or a notebook, it also looks better than going on your phone or googling names and addresses (yep I am guilty of that).
I would also suggest going to every interview that you possibly can do. For example, I recently got offered a new job but applied to LOTS of jobs and I am still getting interview offers coming through. I have gone to most of these as if I do not go, then I will never get the chance of the opportunity. I take all my paperwork and pretend I really want the job. You may actually be surprised and really like the workplace or the university, and if you do not go, then you will always be left wondering. Going to multiple interviews is helpful as you are not putting all your eggs in one basket, and it gives you time to decide what you really want.
Fake it until you make it
I am not telling you to lie. It is definitely a bad idea lying about qualifications and previous experience as it is likely to come back and bite you. Generally with stuff like that it is better to be honest and admit that you may be lacking in experience but you have transferable skills etc. In healthcare course interviews, they are likely to ask you about a time you have had to use your own initiative, have had to deal with conflict or your strengths and weaknesses. What they are looking for you to identify what qualities you need and that you have them. If you do not think you have something relevant, base it on something and make it up but make sure it is believable. Identifying the qualities and skills is more important than you saving your friend from a fight in a pub.
Fake your confidence. Put a smile on your face, wear your lucky knickers or boxers and seize the day! Even if your legs are shaking, you feel sick and you feel like you need to wee every 2 minutes, lift your head high and believe in yourself. Try to take everything in your stride and enjoy it. This is a learning curve and is huge in personal growth. If you make a mistake, either do not admit to it or laugh it off and move on. If you want it, then you can get it.