A job interview is your foot in the door with your next potential employer.
The problem is you only get one chance to make a positive first impression and convince the interviewer you are a good fit for their company.
To help you come across well in interview I've pulled together a few of my top dos and don'ts:
What to wear
Do: Research the company and check out its website and social media so you can judge the workplace culture and decide whether you dress business casual or traditionally suited and booted. Whatever you wear ensure clothes and shoes are clean and neat.
Don’t: Dress down. It’s much better to be a little more formal than required than to dress too casually, or you could come across as not being serious about the position.
When to arrive
Do: Be punctual. In fact, aim to arrive 10 minutes early to give yourself time to pop to the loo and take a few minutes to relax and mentally prepare.
Don't: Run in at the last minute - you'll feel flustered and it doesn't project a great first impression. If you are going to be late ring and let the company know.
Remember your manners
Do: Be polite and pleasant to everyone you meet, not just the interviewer - you never know whose opinion will count when it comes to deciding who gets the job. Offer the interviewer a firm handshake and thank them for their time at the end.
Don't: Underestimate the importance of good manners. Please and thank you goes a long way towards creating a good impression.
Do: Be body confident - sit up straight, lean slightly forward, and look your interviewer in the eye. Remember to smile and engage with the interviewer to show your interest and enthusiasm.
Don’t: Slouch, cross your arms or fidget.
Do: Keep calm and relaxed. Most interviews are designed to challenge you at least a little to see how you react. It's vital not get rattled, even if you're not sure what to say. An interviewer won't mind if you ask for time to think of the best answer if you need to.
Don’t: Look like you are panicking or speak too quickly when answering. Think before responding, the last thing you want to do is blurt out something you can’t retract.
What to ask
Do: Go prepared with questions about both the company and wider industry sector. An interview is a two-way process so asking questions shows you are interested. Remember that while this is their job selection process you, you also need to choose whether you want to work for the company.
Don’t: Wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. Show you are confident and can take the initiative by speaking up when appropriate. Turning an interview into a conversation will stand you good stead.
Do: Demonstrate that you are a good listener and can stay focused and on topic. Listen to questions carefully and answer confidently and thoughtfully. Make sure you fully understand the question and query a point if you are unsure.
Don’t: Sidestep questions - it looks like you haven't listened. You can be sure every questioned asked by an interviewer is relevant to the role, so demonstrate you understand this. Don't interrupt the interviewer before they have finished asking you a question and never finish their sentences for them.
Compensating for weaknesses
Do: Be honest if you have gaps in your experience or employment record. Even when describing your weaknesses, you can show what you are doing to rectify these.
Don’t: Lie or claim to have skills you don't. Any good interviewer will see through an attempt to pull the wool over their eyes. And, even if you did get the job, you're likely to find yourself in a role you don't like are have problems fulfilling.