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4 questions you’ll have before your first job interview

20 Mar

Your first job interview will be an historic moment – and it almost certainly won’t be your last. Despite knowing that the interview will likely be just one of many you’ll experience during your career, it can still feel incredibly daunting – and you’ll no doubt have plenty of questions ahead of the big moment.

The average job opening attracts 250 CVs, according to an ERE survey, which suggests there is plenty of competition on the job seeker market. While you’ll likely experience some unsuccessful interviews in your time, there are always things you can do to improve your chances of securing the role. Whether you’re hoping to start an apprenticeship or your very first job after leaving school or university, here are some pre-interview questions you might be asking yourself.

What should I wear?

The way you present yourself in an interview can have a significant impact on how you’re perceived. In fact, according to research, 62% of employers say a candidate’s dress sense impacts their employability. First impressions are important in the professional world, with 33% of hiring managers saying they know within 90 seconds of an interview whether they’ll hire someone or not. Make the most of this by putting your best foot forward from the minute you meet your interviewers. While the type of role and company you’re interviewing for will determine your outfit choice, you can never go wrong with a smart pair of polished shoes, trousers and shirt/blouse, or tidy corporate skirt or dress.

If you’re not sure on the level of formality you should dress for in your interview, just ask your recruiter or hiring manager what the dress code is in the office and base your clothing on that.

What should I bring with me?

Good interview preparation will ensure you need to bring very little along with you on the big day, but it can’t help to be extra prepared. Printed directions of the office location, as well as exactly where and when your interview is taking place, can help to navigate any last minute directional issues. Some candidates like to bring a printed copy of their CV, and a pen and paper/notepad is essential for taking down notes and reminding you of questions you want to ask. Spend time before the interview taking notes of key things you want to know about the job and company – it might be why your interviewers like working there, what the potential development plan for your role would look like or how the company has evolved over recent years. Having questions prepared will show you’ve prepared for the role and are interested in learning more.

What should I say and not say?

There are several questions you can expect to crop up time and again in any interview. Both the Undercover Recruiter and the Telegraph point to “Tell me about yourself” as being the most commonly asked interview question, and indeed one that can be the trickiest. Practice responding to this before your interview – address your key strengths, experience and what you’re looking forward to in a role, as well as a bit about what you do outside of work. You’ll also likely be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, so make sure you have some examples that are relevant for the job you’re applying for.

As for things you should avoid mentioning, it’s best not to ask about the annual leave and sickness policy at this stage, as that will suggest you’re already planning your absence before you get the job. It’s also advisable to avoid bad-mouthing former employers as this will make you look negative and unprofessional.

How can I make a good first impression and avoid a bad one?

One of the most important things you can do to avoid making a bad impression at a job interview is to be on time. While most candidates know how vital it is to be prompt – 14% of interviewees worry about being late – there are many factors that can crop up on the day to throw you off course. Mitigate any transport issues by checking your route the night before the interview and allowing yourself extra time for traffic or unexpected delays. Double check the location of the interview with your recruiter and make sure you have the company phone number on hand if you need to check in en route. And when you arrive at your destination, be professional and friendly as soon as you step onto the office grounds. Many managers and interviewers ask reception staff and other team members what they thought of you, so you’re on show from the moment you arrive!

Ready to put it into action?

At DST, we have a variety of roles at all levels and are always on the look out for talented new people to join our team. To find out more about what we can offer, check out our latest vacancies here.
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