Top Five (Interview) Tips Worth Taking Your Blindfold Off For

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New Year, new… job? 

So, you’ve done your research, you’ve updated your CV, you narrowed your search down to a handful of employers that you think that you’d be a great fit for (or you have engaged with a lovely recruitment consultant who has done the leg work for you, ahem), and great, they’re eager to meet you. Job done, right? Wrong. Easy part over. You might be the perfect fit, this may be the job of your dreams, but none of that matters unless you present yourself well in your interview. 

Hiring managers can tell if a candidate is a good fit for a role within the first five minutes of an interview. It’s called the ‘halo effect,’  which, in layman’s terms, means if you make a great first impression, your interviewer is likely to view your following behaviour in a positive light (thank you The Economist).

Five minutes or less? No pressure then. Fear not, here at Gleeson Recruitment Group, we have put together five top tips to help you ace your first interview (and if there’s anything else that we can help you with, click here).

1. Think about your body language.

Nonverbal communication is one of the quickest indicators of character; your posture, your tone of voice, your body language, they are all talking for you, so think about what they are saying. For example, if you appear distracted or fidgety, it may be a sign of nerves, it may be an invisible entity outside telling you that it is absolutely fine to take your blindfold off, but it is usually perceived as a lack of interest in the interview. If you are playing with items in front of you, or checking the time every five mins, do you have somewhere better to be? Because that’s what it looks like. 

The best was to avoid fidgeting is to make sure that you are aware of it – be conscious of your body and your body language. A great way to check is to rehearse and record yourself answering common interview questions. This will not only help you to prepare your answers, but also show you just how prone you are to fidget under pressure. 

p.s. we all know that crossing your arms comes across as defensive – it’s sends the message that you feel threatened. If you want to come across as approachable, don’t lean back or slouch, sit up straight and keep your chest and arms ‘open’. Lean forward a little, show your interviewer that you are engaged and interested in what that have to say.

2. Avoiding eye contact.

People who avoid eye contact are about as trustworthy as Olympia’s judge of character. 

Some of us do it subconsciously, some of us do it to it to avoid confrontation, but it is often interpreted as a sign of insecurity. Avoiding eye contact may even give the impression that you are lying or trying to hide something and are therefore untrustworthy. Not ideal. 

Boy. Girl. It’s me, Malorie. It’s safe now. You can look at me.

So, have confidence in yourself. When you look people in the eye, it shows self confidence in what you have to say, and your interviewer will in turn pay more attention and engage better.

3. Don’t slag off your current employer…

C’mon now. No matter how many ribbons you wrap it in, an insult is an insult and you will just look bitter. You trying to come across as genuine is about as believable as Tom telling everyone that, ‘it’s just a speed bump.’ Whether it’s an ex-employer or an ex-colleague that has ruffled your feathers, bad mouthing them to a potential employer screams one thing and one thing only, ‘does not play well with others.’ 

Sometimes hiring managers will ask you about difficulties that you have encountered in the workplace because they want to hear about your ability problem solve – not how none it was your fault. Simply blaming others may indicate a lack of maturity, self-awareness and accountability. Instead, give an example of a challenge that you overcame by thinking on your feet and being pragmatic. 

4. Do your research.

Charlie, did you learn all of that working at the supermarket?

A great way to prevent you from spending the entire interview talking about yourself, is to do a little research in preparation for it. Look up the company values, prepare a couple of questions that you may have for the interviewer, it will show the hiring manager that you are just as interested in them as they are in you. Don’t just talk about how you want to work for their fantastic company, talk about what you have to offer them, what makes you stand out.

However, the line between confidence and arrogance is thin. It’s great to have pride in your professional accomplishments, but don’t boast, don’t lie and do not over exaggerate your skill set. You may believe that you are the perfect fit for a role, you may even think that you are in fact over qualified, but no one owes you a job. Contextualise your accomplishments in what they have contributed to your current employer, in doing so you will highlight the potential value you may add to your future employer. 

5. Be on time.

You would think that this is a no brainer (and you would be correct), but it happens to the best of us. Plan your journey, prepare for unexpected delays, give yourself extra time on top of your allocated extra time. There is no bigger deal breaker than tardiness – after all, if you can’t get to the interview on time, how can you be trusted to get to work on time? 

Better to be early than late… but don’t arrive too early. Yes, we know what we just said, but arriving early does not mean that you will be seen any sooner. In fact, it will only lead to you sitting nervously in a waiting area for longer than necessary. Ten minutes early is sufficient. If you find that you arrive earlier than anticipated, grab a coffee nearby and go over your interview notes (that you prepared in advance because you are the deity of preparation). 

Honourable mention: Dress appropriately. 

Do your research and tailor your dress code to the environment you will be working in - it’s a fantastic way of showing hiring managers that you are a great cultural fit. Sure, the way you dress isn’t as important as your qualifications or industry experience, but it is a great indicator as to how you will come across to clients and/or customers.

We know, job hunting can feel like a full time job in itself (unless of course, you acquire the help of your friendly neighbourhood recruitment consultants). Sure, this isn’t a definitive list, these are just our five top tips to take into consideration when preparing for your first interview (and a shameless plug for our shiny new website. Twice in one paragraph? Wow. No chill).

Credit: Thea Fraser