We’ve all been there: waiting in reception with our best outfit on, prepped notes in our hands and a nervous smile on our face. An interview can be a scary process – your experience, achievements and your personality are all on show and you only have a small window of around an hour to impress your ‘judges’.
So how do you make the right impression when the pressure’s on? Success have been matching talented people with roles at leading brands and companies for over 30 years, so if anyone knows what it takes to succeed in an interview setting, it’s them. We asked the team for their top tips to stay confident, calm and collected when it counts.
Follow their advice below and you could be hearing the words “you’re hired” sooner than you think.
Employers love to know that you’ve looked into their business and any recent press surrounding them, so make sure you really research the company by using their website as well as newspapers and targeted news forums, such as Retail Week. This will help you give a unique answer to why you want to work for them and what interests you about them.
Make sure you know exactly what the role entails, looking at key responsibilities as well as the job’s requirements so you can match up your experience and answer questions confidently on why you would be a perfect candidate. It also gives the prospective company confidence that you know what you are going for and have thoroughly thought about the opportunity.
There are so many weird and wonderful questions that can be asked in an interview so always expect the unexpected! However, on the majority of occasions interviewers will want to know why you want to work for them and why they should choose you, so think about general competency questions and always look at your CV as well as thinking about your experience so you can come up with clear, concise answers and examples.
Preparing yourself mentally is very important for a successful interview – don’t take for granted what a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast can do for your brain to function better. Make sure you clear your mind of everything else (as best as you can, obviously) and try to relax as much as possible the night before so you feel fresh and ready to go kick some interview butt!
No matter how cheesy it sounds, first impressions count – a lot. You want to present yourself as polished, presentable and professional, and there’s really nothing that does this better than a great suit. That said, it’s really worth your time to research the culture and dress code at the company you’re hoping to work at. They might encourage a much more casual environment (as many offices do now) and a 3-piece suit would look out of place. This is where a tailored jacket comes into its own – you’ll arrive looking like you’re serious about the job, but have the flexibility to take it off if it feels right for the interview. Need more ideas on what to wear? Read this.
Out of all the interviews we’ve arranged over the years, one thing never gets old when it comes to creating bad impressions: timekeeping. Unfortunately, bad things do happen at times (bus or train breakdowns, unexpected roadworks, etc.) however it’s vital that you give yourself more time to get to the interview, making sure you get there at least 15 minutes before your appointment time. Not only does this allow you to gather your thoughts, it also shows your prospective employer you can make timelines and are a punctual candidate.
We’ve read somewhere that you use more muscles to frown than smile. Is it true? No idea. But it is a nice thing for your interviewer to see and it sets up the meeting with all sorts of positive vibes that can make both you and them feel easy, which can only lead to a better flow of conversation. Body language is just as important – yes it’s hard at times when you’re nervous but try your best to have relaxed shoulders, maintain eye contact and, above all else, no arm crossing!
Ok, maybe don’t go into the room with that exact notion however confidence is a very attractive trait to see in a person and shows that you know your own abilities as well as being able to clearly showcase them to your interviewer. Confidence doesn’t always come naturally but if you do the preparation before (see points 1, 2 and 3) then the answers will come more freely and you’ll remember key points and give a more confident answers.
So, you’ve completed your research, turned up on time, wore your best outfit, smashed the questions they’ve thrown at you – what now? Prospective employers like to see you have researched the business but also that you are genuinely interested in knowing more. If you’re offered the chance to ask questions, use it! You could ask about the company’s future plans, team structure, or any achievements not noted in the press.
It’s as simple as that – always end the interview with a thank you and a handshake. This shows you have manners but also that you appreciate the time they’ve taken to see you and consider you for the post.
Fancy working in the fashion industry? Check out Success’s jobs to find your next step on the career ladder. They’ve got loads more tips and advice available on their blog or hit them up on LinkedIn and Twitter.