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Face-to-face interview top tips

This guide summarises the essential information you will need to know to be successful at a face-to-face interview.

You shouldn't automatically think of the interview as a threatening or intimidating situation. Instead it's an opportunity for you to sell yourself, to show who you are, and to find out more about the employer and the position to make sure that it's right for you.

Pre-interview

  • Do your research. Think about why you want this particular role with this particular company and be ready to use this information.
  • Read through the person specification and job description. Prepare examples of where you have used the skills and qualities the employer lists as essential for the role.
  • Anticipate common questions and prepare answers. Have three questions ready to ask the interviewers.
  • Arrive early. Plan your route in advance, check your means of transport and leave extra time. Have an early night the night before.
  • Take your CV or application form with you and any other documents they have requested (e.g. certificates, work permit). A pen and paper may also be handy.
  • Avoid coffee, tea and alcoholic drinks before the interview as these act as stimulants and can disturb your attention.
  • Calm your nerves. Try some deep breathing while you wait.
  • Turn off your mobile phone!

Dress for success

  • Men: wear a dark suit and conservative tie. Avoid bright colours and strong patterned shirts. Women: wear a skirt or trousers. No knee-length boots, short skirts or low-cut tops.
  • Have smart leather shoes (black is the best choice), clean and polished.
  • Women: avoid long earrings, these can be distracting for the interviewers. Men: no earrings!
  • Be conservative with make up and use aftershave and perfume sparingly.
  • Have a handkerchief handy to wipe a sweaty palm before shaking hands.

During interview

  • Greet everyone with a firm handshake and confident greeting.
  • Remember the names and titles of your interviewers and maintain eye contact with your interviewers.
  • Use calming techniques like deep breathing if you feel nervous.
  • Use positive body language. Don’t fold your arms or hunch over. Don’t slouch in your chair.
  • Remember your voice and diction, speak clearly and make sure that your interviewers can hear you. Don’t speak too fast, especially if you have an accent.
  • Think of the image that you want to portray – enthusiastic, interested, knowledgeable. Does your body language reflect this?
  • Leave the interview with another firm handshake and a smile.
  • Interview presentations
  • Ensure you understand what the presentation is about and how long you should speak for.
  • Rehearse your timings. Ensure you stick to the time given. Speak slowly and clearly, making sure you can be heard. Do not read directly from the screen.
  • If using Microsoft® PowerPoint:
    • Ensure your presentation is correctly loaded onto a memory stick.
    • Ensure the presentation is visually pleasing by choosing an appropriate background colour, business font and font size and images.
    • Do not overcrowd slides by using too much text and avoid unnecessary transitions, sounds or animations.
    • If you have notes, don’t read them word for word. It’s ok to take regular short pauses to gather your thoughts.
    • Make regular eye contact with all of the people you are presenting to.
    • Don’t stand stiffly on the spot or pace up and down as these will both show your nerves. Relax and move occasionally.
    • Follow the golden rule when structuring presentations: Tell them what you are going to say, say it, then tell them what you have said.

After interview

  • Reflect on how it went. Note down your thoughts on the interview: how well you answered the questions; what you learned about the role and the company; things you wish you'd said or asked about.
  • Think about the questions that you found difficult to answer, rehearse these for next time.
  • If you don’t hear by the time agreed, phone or email to ask politely if a decision has been made.
  • Ask for feedback. If you’re unsuccessful, phone or email the interviewer to ask how you did.
  • Stay positive - don't be discouraged if your first efforts are unsuccessful.