General interview advice

First Impressions

Research suggests that most interviewers' first impressions of candidates are based on assessments made in the first few minutes of an interview. Creating the right impression early on is vital if you want to impress your interviewer.

Make sure you:

  • Smile.
  • Shake hands confidently.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Speak properly.
  • Be polite.
  • Do not try and be funny, cocky or egotistical. It will backfire. You are there to work and to learn; be enthusiastic.
  • Don't make excuses, even if you are late. Only apologise if you have to.
  • Don't be late, always be early.

Ultimately you are trying to create the impression that you are a professional person who is more than capable of communicating to a high level in an interview situation. Interviewers will be assessing whether you are responsible enough to deal with clients, and likeable enough to work on their teams. People who impress at interview impress clients. If you make a good impression, you will be hired.

Interview Dress

Dressing formally is a necessity for anyone going to an interview.

Dress

Always dress well for interviews, you need to be smart. There is nothing wrong with looking good. Even if an office is 'smart casual', you should dress in a suit for the interview day.

Men

Gentlemen should wear a dark blue, black or grey suit that has recently been pressed. Your shirt is a matter of personal preference, but most of the time its best to keep things simple. You can't go wrong with a crisp, well-ironed, white shirt. Very light pastel shade shirts are also acceptable.

Your tie should also be simple and well-ironed. It shouldn't be too shiny. Stick to a strong simple single colour such as blue or brown to give the impression that you are confident, professional and reliable.

Women

Women should stay professional for interview and never wear anything revealing. Dark blue, black or grey trouser suits are highly effective interview tools. Keep jewellery and perfume to a minimum. A single piece of bold jewellery can be a good way to express assertiveness and confidence.

Colours

Colour can dramatically affect the first 5-second impact on your interviewer. Wear a red tie and you run the risk of being seen as a highly assertive, dominant and possibly even cocky candidate. Wear a yellow or orange tie and you may be seen as a quirky, off-the-wall character and not taken seriously.

For some professions, a red tie may be useful. For example, sales companies are often interested in overly confident candidates as they generally make better salesmen. Accountancy firms would be less interested in candidates with red ties. Prospective accountancy candidates should wear more conservative colours such as blue, grey or brown, indicative of sensible, hard-working, conscientious personalities

Being better dressed will not turn a poor candidate into a good one, but it will help you make the 'right' impression on the day. You need to prove to your interviewer that you can represent their company in a professional and appropriate manner in the future and you should dress accordingly at interview.

WikiJob recommends wearing a dark suit with a blue or brown tie for jobs in Accountancy, Law and Consulting and a dark suit with a red tie for jobs in Sales and Investment Banking.


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How are colours perceived?

How colours are perceived:

  • Blue: Confident, reliable, honest. Wearing a strong blue tie is a good idea for interview!

  • Brown: Confident, resilient, boring. Brown can be an excellent choice for an interview situation, but be careful. Some brown ties can look terrible, and your interviewer will pick up on this. Make sure you get a second opinion on how you look before you step out.

  • Red: Assertive, bold, confident. Be aware that this may make you appear overbearing, over-assertive, cocky or arrogant in an interviewers eyes.

  • Yellow/Orange: Quirky, unusual, off-beat. These colours will get you remembered, but not necessarily for the right reasons. More suited to creative/media jobs.

  • Black: A black suit will always look good, but you should never wear a black tie to an interview.

  • Grey: Stylish, but can be dull.

  • Green: Not a good colour for interview, unless it’s a pastel shade. Green is often associated with untrustworthiness and deceit.

  • Striped: Be careful when wearing stripes. Too many stripes will make you seem slightly unhinged and may make your interviewer nervous.

Behaviour

You should be on your best behaviour in the interview. Candidates should be polite and respectful, responding to the interviewer and his/her questions. Candidates should be assertive and confident, but not interrupt the interviewer and only ask questions when there is a natural break in the conversation or when invited to do so.

Never use slang or colloquialisms in an interview. Always speak as you would expect someone in authority to speak to you. If you do make a mistake, quickly correct yourself.

Body Language

Try to remain calm and relaxed, to instill a sense of confidence in your interviewer. Constantly changing your sitting position, moving your hands, arms and feet or changing the position of your head will give the impression that you don't feel comfortable in the interview situation. Although this may be true, it is not something you want your interviewer to be aware of. Instead of thinking about your body, try concentrating on your breathing. By focussing on maintaining a slow and steady breathing rate you will forget about other body movements and consequently move less. Obviously when in the interview, make sure you focus on the task at hand.

Try and keep your hands and feet out in the open. Don't sit on them and try not to cross arms or legs as this may be seen as defensive and a sign of introversion or fear by your interviewer.


If you’re applying for jobs and want to get an edge in the application process, this guide to mastering graduate interviews might be useful. When you know the tips and tricks to use, you can walk into the interview room with much greater confidence.


Mirroring

When people are comfortable around other people they tend to mirror their movements, body language, voice and even breathing. In social situations groups of friends tend to move easily amongst one another, whereas groups of strangers are more uncomfortable around each other.

Mirroring your interviewer can be a good idea, to give the impression that you are comfortable around them. Try to sit in a similar way to your interviewer, hold your hands like they hold theirs or even try tilting your head in the same way they do.

Voice

Under the intense pressure of an interview situation your vocal pace is likely to speed up. If you notice this happening, try and slow down. Speaking normally gives the impression of confidence and assertiveness, which is what they are looking for.

Smell

You should be clean for interview but not covered in deodorant or perfume. A light mist of a subtle smelling perfume is more than enough for the close confines of an interview room.

Smokers should not smoke until the end of their interview and only spark up once they are well away from company's buildings. Companies are becoming increasingly wary of employing smokers (who tend to take more breaks than non-smokers) and if you are unlucky enough to be interviewed by a non-smoker or hardened anti-smoker, you will give off a very bad impression from the very first moment.

If you must smoke before your interview make sure you smoke outside, out of sight, wash your hands, clean your teeth and chew some minty gum. A smoky scent could cost you a job, so don't take the risk.

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