28 April 2015

Lifestyle | How to Interview Like a Professional

Job interviews can be quite daunting whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional with years of interviewing and working under your belt it can be a nerve wracking experience putting yourself out there for an interview.
source: weheartit

I can remember every interview I’ve ever had, some of them down to the most random details, and although I don’t want to be that person that says they’ve been offered every job they’ve interviewed for, on the two occasions where I wasn’t offered the role I interviewed for I was offered something else by the company simply because although I wasn’t the right fit for that role (over-qualified, under-qualified, not enough experience in the sector etc.) I interviewed well enough for them to see something in me that would work in their organisation.
 I haven’t interviewed for a new job for over two years now but in my current role we have annual appraisals during which we are basically re-interviewed for our current job or any potential promotion and we have to prepare like an actual interview. Depending on whether or not you’re being put forward for a promotion it can be a two, even three, step process which mimics the job selection process. Prior to my current role I used to recruit my own staff (since when did this become a cover letter? “Hi, I’m Vicky and I’d like to apply for the position of blogger here on Beauty Blogging Brunette!”) so I know a lot about interviews, good and bad, and how to make an excellent impression.
Whether you’re graduating this summer and looking to land a full time role, if you’re currently working but seeking new opportunities or even if you just want to know what other people think is important in an interview, here are my top tips.
 How you present yourself – appearance 
I’ve started with how you present yourself – appearance, because it is the first thing a potential employer will notice about you. Even before you’ve introduced yourself and shaken hands, they will have taken in things so microscopic about your appearance that they will already be building a picture of you as a potential employee; I believe this section can further be broken down into two categories: clothing and grooming. 
source: weheartit

Clothing  
The outfit you wear is so important, that doesn’t mean that it has to be expensive, just that you have to look clean, smart and appropriately dressed for the role you’re interviewing for. If you’re interviewing for something slightly more creative such as fashion or something in the arts, you can get away with showing slightly more creativity in your outfit rather than keeping it super business-like. If, however, you’re interviewing for something in a more corporate environment, turning up in a handmade haute couture creation probably won’t make the best impression.
A simple, well cut, black dress with a blazer is timeless and can be recycled as office wear. You can pick them up in Zara and H&M for anything from £20 so you really don’t have to break the bank. Primark also do a work wear section if you’re on a strict budget and a simple dress or skirt and blouse combination work wonders.
Also, do not underestimate the power of a pair of plain black trousers paired with a black round neck t-shirt and a blazer and how smart this can look, it was our uniform at Harrods and if it passes at one of the most prestigious department stores in the world then it is definitely suitable for an interview.
Jewellery should be kept to a minimum, most work places will have this rule for their employees so it’s best to make a good impression – you don’t need to wear a handful of stacking rings and midi rings and half an arm of bracelets to an interview unless you own your own jewellery business and you’re pitching your product.
Your shoes are also important (I once interviewed someone who turned up in trainers and tracksuit bottoms despite the dress code being business casual not gym casual) and people do pay attention. I always slip into a pair of heels before an interview – I arrive at the location 15-20 minutes early to get a feel for it and then I change my shoes and do a last minute check of my appearance. 
source: weheartit

Grooming
It’s not just your clothes that the person you’re interviewing will notice but also how you present as a person. Keep your makeup neutral and simple, unless you’re applying for a job on a makeup counter then you do not need a smokey eye and it might not be the best time to wear a bold lip colour although I once interviewed a girl wearing a bright red lipstick, it was her signature look and she worked it well! Make sure the makeup you wear is “you” but still professional.
One thing that is super important for me that many people forget is your nails. You don’t need a full on manicure but do not turn up with chipped nails, it looks unprofessional and frankly a little lazy. People will look at your hands, when you’re shaking hands and when you’re talking so it’s important you don’t have islands of Chanel Rouge Noir polish on otherwise bare nails. If it doubt, it’s always better to remove it than leave it. I always carry a small pot of nail polish remover pads with me, yes they’re oil but they’re perfect for emergencies. 
As for your hair, as long as it’s clean and well presented you can wear it up or down though if you’re likely to fiddle with it, I’d tie it back – there will be more of this when we talk about body language. I read an article once that claimed women who styled their hair into ponytails for jobs got more job offers than women who wore their hair down – make of that what you will!
How you present yourself – body language 
I’m sure most people will be familiar with the statistics surrounding non-verbal communication, if you’re not they are as follows: non-verbal communication is made up of three elements: words in their literal meaning, tone of voice and body language. In face to face interactions, body language accounts for 55% of how we come across in face to face communication, 38% is our tone of voice and just 7% comes from the words we use so body language is pretty important.
source: Google
I always think a good handshake is important, on the occasions where I’ve met someone and they’ve got a bad handshake (usually quite limp or lacking any commitment) that has translated into their performance so a good handshake is important in business. The general rule of thumb if you’re unsure about your handshake is to match the pressure of the other person.
Sitting and standing up straight show confidence and try not to cross your arms, it’s a defensive mechanism and comes across as closed over and defensive – the chances are you’ll already have a barrier between yourself and the person interviewing you (usually their desk or a boardroom table) don’t add another one. 
source: weheartit

Open body language is always good as it represents honesty and openness to your surroundings and ideas. I talk quite a lot with my hands and that’s something I’ve had to reign in a little but it’s also a good sign, if you watch a politician giving a speech they gesticulate with their hands and their movements are always very controlled. I tend to keep my palms upturned and my movements within a shoebox sized space – hands go in to make a point, hands come back when it’s made. On the topic of hands, don’t fiddle with your hair, your outfit or your bag as it shows nerves. 
Do your research!
This is probably one of the most important points of all, you must do your research on the company you’re interviewing for. What industry are they in and what is their reputation within that industry? Are they a major player in their industry? How long have they been operating for? Why do they attract you as a company and what do you think it would be like to work there and why?
source: weheartit

You don’t need to go into finite detail here, when you walk into an interview and parrot a Wikipedia article it doesn’t win you brownie points. For my current role, I did my research and showed this by throwing in random facts I’d discovered “so, as one of London’s oldest established ‘X’ companies, do you feel your history is a help or a hindrance in the modern market?”
Be prepared 
 You’ve done your research on the company so what else do you need to research? Well, you! This will sound silly but do your research on yourself as well; most people write their CVs at the start of their job hunting and won’t look back over it. The person interviewing you will have seen it twice – once when they decided to interview you and then again a few moments before they sit in front of you and there is nothing more embarrassing than them being more clued up on your CV than you are. Take time to read through your CV and make sure you know your dates, your roles and accountabilities and if you’re going for a sales job, your figures. One other thing to make sure you know is your current salary - so many people add on a few extra thousand to their salary in the hope of nailing a pay rise in the new job but if you don't know your monthly "take home" figure you're going to look like you're lying.
Take time to think of some answers to questions they may ask, I’ve listed some common ones below and scenario based answers are always good. Everyone can say they’re a great multi-tasker but if you can back that up with a time when you worked on multiple projects with multiple people, now is the time to bring it up.
Some questions they may ask:
·         Why do you want to work for us?
·         What can you bring to the role?
·         List your three greatest achievements
·         List three weaknesses 
·         Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
There’s always a chance of a curveball question, I once got asked whether or not I considered myself to be a failure for quitting my degree and whether or not I made a habit of leaving projects half-finished! This threw me a little bit but it’s important to remain composed and consider your answer, you don’t have to respond within a heartbeat.
It’s also important to come up with some questions of your own, even if you only have one or two of your own. They can be as simple as: what is a typical day here like?
source: weheartit

Be yourself!
Ultimately, being yourself is the most important thing you can do. This can’t be taught, you just have to let your personality shine through and don’t worry if you’re nervous, everyone makes allowances for the fact that an interview is a very his pressure situation and people don’t always react as they would normally but if you can still get your personality across you’re in with a fighting chance.
Confidence – fake it until you make it
I’m terrible at selling myself and talking up my good points but I’ve learned to develop and interview personality where I’m confident and assured in my presentation outwardly even if I’m terrified inside. I also think this comes with experience, I’m used to the interview process now so the only element of the unknown for me really is the person I’m meeting and now that I’ve gained experience in customer facing roles, the meeting new people aspect doesn’t really faze me anymore.
If you don’t feel confident, take some time to take deep breaths before your interview and visualise yourself doing well. Don’t worry about how you got there and don’t take anything negative into your interview with you because it will show. Just try and compartmentalise everything until you’re done. Smile, be open and honest and just be you!
I hope some of you find this helpful but if you ever need tips or advice on the above, you can always reach me using the details supplied on my Contact Me page.

Vicky x

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4 comments

  1. I love this post, I feel it's just what I needed to see to remind me of it all, I'm re applying for some business apprenticeships this year and want to improve my interviewing skills!x

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    1. I'm so pleased it may have helped you Hannah. Best of luck with your applications for the internships x

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  2. This is so so helpful for me! I am doing an MA next year now but after that will be job hunting for a job within the magazine industry so will definitely need to use these tips. I always worry about what to wear - I never want to look too over/under dressed - so these are some great ideas. xxx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

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    Replies
    1. Good for you on doing your masters Jessie! That's awesome. Hopefully this helps when it comes to finding a job. What to wear is always a huge stress for people I find! Xx

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Thank you for your comments ♥ If you have any questions, feel free to ask me on Twitter @VickyAtBBB x

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