Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I had a job interview earlier this week. What you won’t know, however, is that interview was my first ever proper job interview! I won’t count the 10 minute interview I had for a shop sales assistant position back in 2012, because my friend and her mum both worked at the shop so I was basically guaranteed to get hired.
It’s safe to say that I was absolutely terrified. I do get nervous speaking to new people for the first time, and I wasn’t completely sure that I’d done enough preparation. Plus, the interview was conducted via video online, so a little different to the simulated face-to-face interviews I’d taken part in at university. Today I thought I’d go over my expectations of the interview vs. the reality.
1 – have some notes in eye view
I think the main advantage of being interviewed over the internet is that you can keep notes of some of the main points you want to cover for reference. I imagine it’s probably frowned upon to take notes into a face-to-face interview, but you can get away with it if the interview is online! At the end of the interview I got the dreaded “do you have any questions for me?” question, but thankfully I wrote down what I wanted to ask, just in case nerves caused them to slip my mind.
2 – have examples which could work for a variety of questions
Often in interviews, the interviewer will ask you to describe a scenario in which you worked well as a team, worked well on your own, or demonstrated a particular skill. I’d already prepared answers for those first two questions, and was completely ready for them – that is, until my interviewer didn’t ask those, and instead asked me to give an example of a time as a journalist where I didn’t take no for an answer. Thankfully, I was able to take the example I had prepared for a different answer and focus on a different aspect of it, to make the answer fit the question. Phew!
3 – be honest
I would expect that this is an obvious answer, but I thought I’d touch on it just in case. As part of the interview I had to complete an exercise which required five steps for the answer. As my interviewer was going over my response, he asked me whether I thought, in hindsight, there was anything I’d missed off of the list. Frantically I looked over my response, trying to work out what the interviewer was alluding to, but I couldn’t come up with anything. I admitted as much to the interviewer, asking him to clarify, and as it turns out he looked over my response again he realised that I had actually covered everything he wanted – just out of the ideal order.
If I’d tried to invent something else that could have fit into the answer, I think it would have been blatantly obvious, and would have shown me up for being unsure of myself. Plus, I could have ended up saying something completely incorrect in the heat of the moment. I stood by the answers I originally gave, and in the end, it worked out for me.
4 – get into the zone
Even though I was sat in my bedroom whilst being interviewed, I wanted the atmosphere to feel as professional as possible. I wore office smart clothes (obviously), made my bed, cleared the background of my dirty laundry hamper, and generally tidied up. I immediately felt like I was in a more productive working environment, and hopefully that came across in the interview.
5 – don’t be afraid to ask for time to think
At one point, I was asked a question which came completely out of the blue – I had no idea that this sort of question would come up! In order to organise my thoughts, I asked my interviewer if he didn’t mind me taking a minute to think, and he said yes. This gave me time to properly structure my response, rather than potentially ending up rambling about topics not totally related to the question. I was taught this trick by my career’s adviser back at university, and they believe asking for a minute to think about your response makes you look considered, rational, and able to handle pressure.
So there you have it! Was this advice helpful? Do you have any other useful interview tips? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.