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about 2 months ago by Thea Fraser

5 Top Tips for Acing Your First Interview

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As the world is reopening, recruitment processes are unfreezing, and employers are on the hunt for a fresh injection of talent. So, now could be the right time to dust off your CV, polish your best shoes and put yourself out there. Now, 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.

Five minutes or less? No pressure then. Well, we have put together five top tips to help you ace your first interview.

  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. This is particularly important if your interview is taking place fast-to-face, as you will most likely be required to wear a face covering. If you appear distracted or fidgety, it may be a sign of nerves, 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 way 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. 

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.

  1. Avoiding eye contact.

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.  

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.

  1. Do your research.

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.

Be wary though, the line between confidence and arrogance is thin. It’s great to have pride in your accomplishments, but don’t boast, don’t lie and do not over exaggerate your skillset. You may believe that you are the perfect fit for a role, you may even think that you are overqualified, 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. 

  1. 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. Heads up, an office with a ‘no dress code policy’ rarely means that you can rock up in your favourite ripped jeans and a tie-dyed top, a ‘no dress code policy’ often means smart casual.

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. 

  1. 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. With unpredictable traffic and reduced timetables across many public transport services due to Covid-19, it is best to plan your journey, prepare for unexpected delays and 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: 

Don’t bad-mouth your current employer. No matter how many ribbons you wrap it in, an insult is an insult, and you will look bitter. 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.

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) and we hope that you have found our tips useful. If you have any tips that you would like to add, let us know in the comments.