Career Tips | Dos and Don'ts for Interview Success!*




I've spoken a few times on here about my experiences applying for graduate jobs and I've learned a lot in all the interviews and assessment centres I've attended over the past 18 months. So when the opportunity arose to write a post for new job site City Calling, I thought I'd tell you about the most important tips I can offer based on my successes and failures!  

Do: Feel Confident

Firstly, if you're through to the interview stage: well done! From my experience of graduate schemes, you have to pass your initial application, at least two online psychometric tests, a phone/recorded/Skype interview and potentially a stage one assessment centre even to get into the room to speak with someone. So you've done really well to get this far and bare in mind that there's everything to play for; if you didn't have a chance, they wouldn't have called you in. Definitely give yourself some credit and take pride in the achievements that got you the interview so you can speak confidently about them, instead of trying to downplay things! If you have a blog, make sure to mention it, as it demonstrates so many different skills. Even for roles I haven't got, I've always received feedback from recruiters that they were impressed with this.

Do: Sort Out the Logistics in Advance

Where is your interview? It sounds the most simple question, but you'll want to sort your transport at least a week ahead. If it's in your hometown, see how long it will take you to get there from your bus/car park etc. on Google maps and give yourself plenty of time to find the place. If you need to book a hotel or train then make sure you do that as soon as possible after being given your interview date. Also check the company's expenses policy to see what you can and can't claim. Most will allow you an overnight stay in a nearby hotel with a meal if you live several hours away from where the interview will be held. I tend to do this instead of getting the train in the morning as it allows me a good night's sleep without worry about travel (plus peak-time tickets can cost just as much as a stay in a hotel).

Do: Wear Something Comfortable

Try to wear something you'll be comfortable in so you won't get flustered. Obviously you will need to dress professionally (I usually go for a pencil dress and jacket), however if you don't own many smart work clothes I really recommend Primark. I've been asked a few times at interviews where I get my dresses from and it's always a £12 one from Primark! Also, in terms of beauty; go for tried and tested. An interview is not the time to try something new. I personally go for a light coverage foundation, nude sheer lip colour, neutral-toned blusher and subtle mascara.

Do: Know Your Stuff

It depends on the role you're applying for but if I'm going for an interview I will set up Google Alerts for the company, so I'm informed every day of the news articles posted about them. You can also look up their financial results, board of directors and business divisions easily on their website. I also make sure to read up on their values and ethos, thinking about times I've displayed competencies relating to them. Speaking of competencies, as much as we all hate them, you're bound to be asked to 'tell me a time when you xyz', so have a few examples prepared (try to draw on a range of experiences if you can from different jobs, college, extra-curricular etc.) I use the STAR approach; talk about the Situation and context, the Task you needed to complete, the Action you took to do this and the Result that came from what you did.

Do: Get Feedback

If you've gone for similar roles before and got to the interview stage, get some feedback on how to improve so you can take these on board in your preparation.

Don't: Be Late

Personally, I've been over half an hour early for interviews before, and whilst it's awkward, it's better than being late! If you're staying in a hotel, arrange a wakeup call as well as setting your own alarm. If you've found the office and you're really early and there's a nearby cafe, just grab yourself a coffee or something. It's just not worth making such a basic blunder.


Don't: Panic

There's only so much preparation you can do. Sometimes they just throw things at you to see how you cope. I've been asked really topical and technical questions before in interviews, and whilst I didn't have all the knowledge, the last time this happened I took what I knew, applied common sense to give my opinion and they called me first thing the next morning to tell me I'd passed! Sometimes I don't think it's even about the answer, it's about how you cope under pressure. If something comes up, don't be afraid to ask for a minute to think, to get them to repeat the question or explain what something means. It's better than giving a rubbish answer right off the bat!

Don't: Pretend to be Something You're Not

Whether it's exaggerating your CV, making things up or anything else, it will be uncovered in the interview! Just be natural, honest and yourself. Build a good rapport with the interviewer and do yourself justice, don't try to mould yourself to a role if it isn't entirely right for you. You should ideally apply for similar roles at similar companies if you're serious about that career path, and if you haven't, but have a good explanation as to why, then be honest about it.

Don't: Take Rejection Too Harshly

It always feels like such a personal thing when you miss out on a role you thought was perfect, however maybe the company or the role just wasn't right for you. Maybe you just had a bad day. Whilst you should learn from the feedback, don't beat yourself up or take a negative attitude into your next interview; it's a clean slate!   

Don't: Be Afraid to Ask Questions

I always think of questions I'd like to know the answers to before I go into the room, as the company are also selling themselves to you! If you want to know where the role is based, the training, what the company can offer you that others can't...now is the time to speak up and be proactive!

In my final year of university I applied to over 40 graduate jobs and didn't get a single one. The following year I applied to only 4, got 3 interviews and passed 2 of them. I think that learning these tips along the way really helped to turn things around for me.

Plus, if you're on the hunt, make sure to check out City Calling to search for jobs online.

Are you currently looking for a new job? What are your tips for acing the interview?


 


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39 comments

  1. Great tips, i agree don't take it the wrong way if you don't get the job as there are many people in the same position x
    Emma | Emmys Blog

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    1. Yeah - as depressing as it sounds you just have to get used to rejection xx

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  2. These are great tips Jasmine, especially the Google Alert and STAR ones. x

    Alexandra | Glam O’Clock - MAKEUP REVOLUTION GIVEAWAY

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    1. Hope you find them useful at some point :) xx

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  3. I love your do's and don'ts- will definitely need to read back on this in the future x
    Hannah | Heyitshannaah

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  4. Great tips. I definitely will be using some of these in the near future x

    www.pintsizedbeauty.com

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  5. This was a really helpful post, thanks Jasmine. I'm just about to start applying for jobs etc so I'm going to save this post and come back to it again if and when I get interviews. Thank you!
    Rebecca | The Two Twenty Somethings
    Xx

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    1. Aw I'm glad this will be useful :) xx

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  6. Fab tips, I have to agree I always mention my blog as it has helped me secure jobs in the past :) I always opt for dresses/skirts instead of trousers as I always feel more comfortable :)

    Charlee XO | CharmedCharlee

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    1. Yeah I agree - you have to be feel at ease! xx

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  7. Great post, job interviews are such a nerve-wracking thing! Definitely agree that it's not the end of the world if you don't get a particular job - i see it as fate that you're just waiting for a better one! x

    Always, Alice x

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  8. Fantastic tips Jasmine! Ironically I went to an interview today and wishes I had seen these before I went. I do think it went okay though, so fingers crossed! x


    Miss Imogen Smith

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    1. Aww well good luck! And I hope this helps you in the future :) xx

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  9. Such good tips, and I do think confidence is key!

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

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    1. It really helps you handle challenges better :) xx

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  10. Really great help lovely I am always early for interviews even when it's been for pubs it doesn't matter where it is I think! I also agree with stick to make up you know, nothing worse than trying something new and feeling self conscious xxx

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    1. I agree- best to stick to tried and tested! xx

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  11. Great tips, but the shoes from the photos are so pretty !
    xoxo,

    http://atwednesdaysiwearpink.blogspot.pt/

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  12. These are such good tips! I think it's important to feel comfortable in what your wearing and feel good with how you've done your make up because then you'll feel a lot more confident :) x x

    www.beyondthevelvet.blogspot.co.uk

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  13. What a lovely insightful post!! I really enjoyed it and I know this would be so helpful to anyone seeking new jobs. I totally agree with you on being comfortable. I once had this dress (my lucky dress) which I got from Primark for £5 (it was on sales from £12) and it has seen me through many interviews and I just can't get rid of it!! Primark really do amazing work wear especially if you are on a budget!!..xx

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    1. I agree - I think my Primark dress is lucky too haha xx

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  14. thanks for all the helpful tips, im sure they will benefit me one day :) x x

    http://millieerosee.blogspot.co.uk/

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  15. Great tips!!! I definitely agree that being confident and making sure you don't panic are very important!

    XO,
    KayElle

    www.MissKayElle.com

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    1. Yeah, you can operate far better with a cool head :) xx

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  16. These are great tips and it's shocking to see how some are during interviews. I had to interview my replacement when I quit my job to migrate here and I was honestly surprise at how many of the candidates doesn't know anything. They'll give one word answers and some even said 'uhmm, I don't know' a lot. Then there are some who were late and didn't even bother to apologize or call to inform that they'll be late. It's terrible.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

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    1. Shocking! I guess in some ways being at all conscientious makes you stand out from the crowd! xx

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  17. Love these tips, I just found your blog and you have a beautiful layout! This post just speaks so much to me as I was looking for a job and sometimes I just don't know what do to for interviews! Thanks so much! x

    www.angerawrs.co.uk

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  18. Love these tips, I did a post recently with City calling and loved putting my tips and ideas together. Amazing imagery too lovely :)

    Elle
    www.theellenextdoor.com
    xx

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    1. Aww thank you :) I enjoyed your post xx

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  19. This is full of useful tips :D I'm currently planning my post on it too :) I totally agree about there being only so much preparation you can do and it's better to just go with it :)

    Style Sunrise ☀

    :)
    x

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  20. I'm currently a graduate applying for jobs, so this was super useful to read! You're so right about mentioning a blog, it demonstrates organisational skills, written communication and discipline so it's always worth mentioning!

    Sinéad xo ♥ fabuleuse, toujours ♥

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