The Ultimate Job Interview Guide.
Job interviews can be tough. They can cause nervousness, stress, and general unease. But here at Drake Recruitment, we believe that, if you’re fully prepared for the interview, you can largely limit these feelings and come away from the interview fairly confident in yourself.
“But how can I be prepared?” I hear you say. “There isn’t some guide to job interviews or anything like that!”
But wait, there is now! We present to you The Ultimate Job Interview Guide! Here you’ll find common questions and queries people have about interviews, and answers you’ll find extremely valuable in your quest to nail a job interview. In this guide we’ll be covering what to wear, who the interviewer might be, what questions you might be asked, and more!
So, here we go. We present to you The Ultimate Job Interview Guide!
Job Interview Guide Part 1 – Pre-Interview.
This part of the guide will focus on things you can prepare for before the interview takes place.
What Should I Wear?
We’re starting our guide with one of the easiest parts to answer – what to wear.
When you’re invited to a job interview, it’s likely you’ll be told what type of clothing to wear. However, if you’re not, ask. There’s no shame in asking, and it’ll save any potential embarrassment turning up for an interview at a highly prestigious law firm in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt.
But what exactly should you wear?
Well, we’re going to break down a few examples and explain what exactly these mean, giving a few examples as we go.
For the most part, this is your standard suited-and-booted style of clothing. A suit and tie or smart dress with smart and sensible shoes are the safest and most appropriate choices. Ensure your clothing is ironed and clean well before the interview to avoid any last-minute stress and consider trying them on to make sure they still fit. Because turning up in ill-fitting clothing will not give off the best first impression.
Smart casual is a difficult dress code to nail. However, don’t be surprised if you’re given an example of clothing when you’re told the interview will be smart casual. “Smart casual, you know, shirt and chinos, something like that”.
The general rule is nothing too outlandish. Smart-ish jeans (usually darker in colour) or chinos, a casual, button-up shirt. Neat and informal, such as a skirt our trousers are acceptable. Jewellery should be kept modest with nothing too outlandish, and loafers, brogues, or desert boots are all acceptable.
Jeans and plain t-shirts are often accepted in the casual category. Trainers vary, as long as they’re presentable and clean (but it’s best to clarify this before committing). The basic principle is that it’s comfort over style, but there are still some limitations. If it’s something you’d wear to work out in or lounge around the house in, it’s not acceptable.
If it’s clean, presentable, and not too outlandish, there’s a chance it’ll be fine. But if you’re unsure, always check. There’s nothing worse than being sent home on your first day because your flairs and fishnet vest aren’t considered acceptable casual office attire…
What Not to Wear.
Although this guide is full of many helpful tips of what you should do, we’re also briefly going to highlight what not to do. In this case, what not to wear to an interview. Unless otherwise stated, we’d say steer clear of the following:
- Ripped or torn jeans.
- Low-fitting jeans.
- Flipflops or sandals.
- Crop tops.
- Short skirts/dresses.
Unless, of course, you’re going for an interview at a ripped/torn, low-fitting jeans company on the hottest day of the year…
When Should I Arrive for My Interview?
Despite this being the ultimate job interview guide, I know some of you out there will be looking for a quick fix. So, you should arrive no later than 15 minutes prior to your interview. However, I implore you to read on, as it’s not as simple as that.
The 15-minute prior mark is when you should be at the reception of the location of the interview. This does not mean start looking for the location 15 minutes before the interview. To ensure the most stress-free interview, we’d recommend finding the location of the job interview well in advance. After all, it’s better for you to be waiting around for the interview to start, rather than keep the interviewer waiting because you got lost.
If you arrive 45 minutes to an hour before your interview, it gives you time to sort yourself out way before the interview. You can also find somewhere to sit, calm yourself down, practice your answers, and more. Whereas, if you arrive at the location shortly before the interview, you may find yourself stressing and overwhelmed by the time you’re being interviewed.
Will My Tattoos & Piercings Be an Issue?
This is one of the hardest parts of the guide to write about, as there are no definitive answers to this topic. So, the best we can do here is to give you several perspectives and let you make up your own mind as to where you sit.
The argument that tattoos and piercings are irrelevant to your ability to perform most jobs is stronger now than ever before. And many business owners are becoming more relaxed about the presence of piercings and tattoos on their employees.
However, many still have strict views on what’s considered acceptable, and what isn’t. And, ultimately, it’s your decision to make as to if you wish to cover them up or remove them. But you must appreciate that there are several factors in place when doing this.
For example, if you’re interviewing for a position in a kitchen, tattoos are likely not going to be an issue, but piercings are. So, you may wish to consider removing them. Yet, if you’re working front-of-house, the roles may be reversed. Small stud earrings may be allowed, but prominent tattoos may not be. So, consider this when attending any interview.
Also, the bottom line is this – the interviewer has the power to either recommend you for the job or employ you themselves. You may be the perfect candidate for the role, but they may be disapproving of tattoos and piercings. And you have to accept that, if they’re on show during your interview, they may not put you forward for the job. I’m not saying it’s appropriate or right of them to do so, I’m just telling you how it is.
Job Interview Guide Part 2 – During the Job Interview.
This part of the guide focuses on questions and points you can research and prepare for that are relevant during the interview. This is arguably the most important part of the guide. So, read carefully and don’t skip anything.
Who Will Interview Me?
When you’re offered the opportunity to attend a job interview, you may be told exactly who will be conducting the interview. However, it’s not a given. So, when you’re next invited to a job interview, and you’re not told who will be conducting the interview, please don’t come back to shout at us in the comments section…
However, this part of the guide will tackle the possible options of who may conduct your interview (again, please note that we said may and not will. Please).
If you’re interviewing for a startup or small business, you may be interviewed by the big cheese themselves. If you know this ahead of time, a little research can go a long way. When you’re asked if you have any questions, you can make them more relevant and direct to your research.
A Manager or Head of Department.
Your interview may well be conducted by a manager within the company. If so, there’s a chance that this manager will be the head of the department the job vacancy is in. Once again, some research can go a long way into helping your interview.
Head of Recruitment.
If the business is large enough, they may have their own recruitment department. In this case, a member of this department is very likely to conduct the interview.
A Senior Member of Staff.
Not as high up as a manager, but higher than a regular member of staff. This is less common, but not unheard of.
If you’ve used the services of a recruitment agency, you may well be interviewed for the position by the recruitment agent. If so, there’s a chance you will have some type of previous relationship before the interview is conducted.
What Questions Will I Be Asked & How Should I Answer?
To make this part of the guide easier, we’re going to break it down into a Q&A style. However, we’re not going to give you the exact answers, as that would be physically impossible. But, instead, we’re going to tell you the outlines of what your answer should be.
Tell Me About Yourself.
A broad and often difficult question to answer, this is a chance for the interviewer to see beyond your CV and cover letter. Anyone can list qualifications and experience on paper. So, interviewers will ask this to see how you present yourself as a person.
So, stay calm and relaxed, as this is not a trick question. But it is worth practicing before the interview, as every interviewer has heard “I’m an ambitious individual” multiple times.
Explain to them about your personality and how it’s relevant to the role available. You can also talk about your previous roles in similar positions and how they may benefit you in the new position. But whatever you say, say it confidently.
If you have no previous experience, turn that into a positive. Mention how this can be used to your advantage, as you have no previous bad habits, and can be trained to do the job exactly how it needs to be done. That kind of thing.
The last point – don’t waffle. Make it precise. If you’ve practiced this answer, this will be no issue.
What Can You Bring to the Company?
The bottom line is that the interviewer is looking for your unique selling point – what do you offer to the company that other candidates don’t?
Here you should mention how you work, why you’re motivated to deliver results, and perhaps even how you’d bring a fresh perception to the business if you have no previous experience. Whenever you highlight a point like this, you should mention proof of this. For example, “I’d bring a fresh perception to the business, as I did in my previous role where…”.
Of course, if you do have previous experience, this is where you should mention this.
What Past Achievement are You Proud Of?
This question is asked mainly to see how you’d perform in a team of existing people.
Many candidates will highlight obvious awards or achievements, such as promotions, certificates, or events that are already on their CV. Because of this, you’ll want to go the other route. Think of an achievement you’re proud of that you maybe didn’t receive specific praise for. However, you’ll want it to remain relevant to the position you’re applying for.
Going out of your way to help a colleague complete a project or when you’ve exceeded expectations is always a safe bet.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
Rule number 1 – do not mention anything that will directly harm your chances of landing the job. In this scenario, the interviewers want to hear about a candidate’s ability to improve, not why they are unsuitable for the job.
Rule number 2 – highlight a weakness, and counter it with improvement. Failing this, you should add what you’re doing to improve on the weakness.
“In my previous role, I perhaps wasn’t the best at identifying which member of staff would be best suited for each task. So, I’ve been working on highlighting the strengths of members of my team…”
We will be highlighting more common job interview questions in upcoming blogs and guides. To keep an eye out on them, click here. But, for now, those are 4 of the most common job interview questions you’re likely to face.
How Long Will the Interview Last?
This is another part of the guide that we can help with, but not give you an exact answer. So, as the name suggests, use this as a guide and not as a rule book. Otherwise, this would be named The Ultimate Job Interview Rule Book, rather than guide…
Anyway, the most common length of a job interview is between 45 minutes and one hour. Certainly don’t expect it to last any less than 30 minutes. These are estimates though, and the length of the interview could vary significantly depending on the industry and position. Also, it’s important to understand that if your interview is described as a ‘trial’, then it’s likely to last significantly longer.
Job Interview Guide Part 3 – After the Interview.
This is the last part of the guide, focusing on what will happen following your interview.
What Should I Do When It Finishes?
And now we’re at the tail end of the guide.
When the interview is finished, be sure to offer a firm (but not too firm) handshake, eye contact, and a sincere thank you. But don’t overthink it. Otherwise, you’ll come off as somewhat creepy.
Be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and listen carefully to what they say. As it may determine what action you take following the interview.
But, immediately following the interview, you’re likely to be shown out of the interviewing area to the way you came in. Despite how movies show it, you’re unlikely to be hired on the spot and asked to start work right then and there. So, if you’re not offered the job instantly, don’t fret. It’s not the end of the world.
What Do I Do Next?
After your interview, you may wish to make contact to follow up on the interview. Or, if you prefer, you can also once again thank the interviewer for their time via email. However, if they’ve explicitly said that they’ll be in contact with you, try to avoid this. As it may look desperate and come across as annoying.
Some people claim that a thank you note is needed, but we tend to disagree. As a sincere thank you in person and a potential follow-up email works just as well.
Where Can I Get a Job Interview?
If you’re looking for a job interview, you’ll want to find job vacancies. And if you’re looking for openings, take a look at what we have available right here.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends. Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs and guides, thanks for reading, and good luck with your interview!