Things You May Need to Know About an Interview (FAQs)

July 25, 2020

How to dress for an interview

The dress code will vary depending on the company you are applying to work for. In general, you should aim to dress more formally than required, as this is far better than dressing too casual. Choose a neutral colour palette and opt for clothes that fit you well.

The weather will also be a key consideration. If it’s cold or raining, you should wear a smart coat and carry an umbrella to keep your hair and clothes dry. If the weather is very hot, wear fabrics that won’t crease or show sweat patches.

As a safe bet, men can often rely on wearing a well-fitting suit in a neutral tone. And make sure you wear socks and smart shoes; no rolled up hems, trainers or the no sock trend. A briefcase or leather portfolio will look more polished than a backpack.

Women often have more freedom in their interview attire, but it’s still important to make sure it is professional. Keep skirts and dresses at knee length. Make sure you aren’t wearing any fabrics that are too sheer or any clothes that are too revealing. Handbags should be professional and conservative.

If you are unsure about the dress code for an interview, you can always ask your recruiter for more guidance. They will be very familiar with the company and the hiring manager, so they will know what they expect.

How long do interviews last?

This will all depend on the person conducting the interview, the type of interview, and the stage in the recruitment process. For a more general Q&A interview, you can expect it to last anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour. If there are more people on the interviewing panel, this might take longer.

For a technical interview, you may be asked to complete a timed task, which will increase the interview duration.

Further along in the recruitment process, you may be asked to come in for a second or third interview. This might be longer in duration as the hiring manager needs to determine if you have the right skills for the role.

If in doubt, the best thing to do is to ask before attending the interview. They will be very respectful of your time and will appreciate that you may have other appointments in the day.

How to sell yourself in an interview

Before going into an interview, make sure that you have read your CV and cover letter over and over. Next, think about the additional points you want to make about your experience. If you need stats to back up your statements, make sure you have these to hand. You may be able to take notes into your interview but always check beforehand.

Remember that an interview is a two-way street. While they are assessing if you can do the job and bring something to the company, you are also assessing if this is a place that you want to work. Take an active role in the interviewing process and make sure you prepare your own questions for the end.

What should I wear to an interview?

What you wear to an interview will be determined by a few different factors. The first thing you should find out is the company dress code. Are they smart, smart/casual or casual? Even if the company has a very casual ethos, you should still make the effort to dress smart/casual. As a general rule, being overdressed is better than being underdressed.

If you are unsure what to wear, speak to your recruiter before heading to the interview. They will be able to advise you on the best choice for your interview. Steer away from casual shoes such as trainers, even if they are a darker shade. You should also pay close attention to accessories which can drag an outfit down. For example, carrying a backpack while wearing a suit will bring down your entire outfit.

How long to wait after interview?

When you walk out of an interview, you will likely have a lot of questions and will want to know the next steps. It’s common for individuals to email on the same day to thank the hiring manager for their time. If you haven’t heard anything after one week, or 4-5 business days, it would then be appropriate to follow up.

This is one of the reasons that working with a recruitment agency can take some of the stress out of the interview process. When you have a recruiter on your side, they will take care of following up so you’ll never be left in the dark.

How to be confident in an interview?

Having confidence in an interview setting is something that comes with experience. It also helps if you are prepared. When you are prepared for anything, it becomes a lot easier to stop focussing on your nerves and start focussing on the task at hand.

It can help to remember that the interview situation may also be stressful and nerve-wracking for the person interviewing you. Unless you are being interviewed by an HR manager, there is a good chance that the person interviewing you doesn’t have a lot of experience in the field.

When you remember that you’re just a person talking to another person, this takes a lot of the stress out of the situation. Relax, be yourself, and let your experience and skills do the talking for you!

How to calm nerves before interview?

The best way to calm any pre-interview jitters is to make sure you arrive with plenty of time to spare. Arriving late to an interview is a great way to send your adrenaline skyrocketing. Arrive early and find a quiet place to collect your thoughts. Try some deep breathing exercises, as this is the best way to slow your breathing and your heart rate.

Try to have something to eat before your interview, but don’t overdo it with the caffeine. This can make you feel more on-edge and amplify your nerves. If you are well-prepared for your interview and confident in your abilities, you should have no trouble impressing the hiring manager.

How to decline an interview?

If you have been offered an interview but aren’t interested in the opportunity, or you have recently accepted another opportunity, it’s important to let the hiring manager know. The world is a very small place, and you never know who you will rely on in the future.

Failing to show up for an interview will project a very poor image of you, and it’s something that many hiring managers won’t forget in a hurry. Interviewing candidates is a very time-consuming task and it can interrupt a whole day of work if you simply fail to show up.

If you would like to decline an interview, it’s very easy to send a quick email. Thank them for their time and the opportunity and then let them know that you won’t be attending the interview.

You don’t have to give a reason but be prepared for the company to follow up and ask why. They may want to understand why are no longer interested, as it may indicate something is amiss with their recruitment process.

How long do job interviews last?

Most job interviews will last between 45 minutes to an hour. If our interview only lasts 30 minutes, don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. It could mean that you answered all of their questions faster than anticipated.

If an interview is cut short, then this might mean that they have come up against an obstacle and will be unable to move forward with your application. It could mean that you do not meet a core competency or you have said something which raises a red flag for them. They will often inform you on the spot, unless their company policy does not allow this.

If you need to know how long an interview will take because you have other appointments or pre-existing commitments such as childcare, you should confirm this when you accept the interview. Leaving an interview early would be considered very unprofessional, so always make sure you check how long you can expect it to last to avoid this dilemma.

How to follow up after an interview?

Following up after an interview used to be an essential step in the process, but it has gradually fallen to be wayside. You no longer need to follow up with a physical letter or notecard, a simple email will suffice. This is a really powerful step that can let an interviewer know that you are courteous and keen to get the job.

You can follow up by email to thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the company. If they invited you to send follow up questions by email, this is the ideal opportunity to ask them. In many ways, it can be helpful to hold back one or two questions during the interview so that you have something to ask in your follow up email.

How to describe yourself in an interview?

The hardest question to answer in a job interview is “tell me about yourself?” It’s such a broad question that it can be difficult to know what to include and what to leave out. It can also lead you to feel like you are rambling on. The best way to perfect the art of describing yourself in an interview is through practice.

Start by outlining your education and employment history. Next, outline your most recent role, including your responsibilities and your biggest achievements. And finally, outline what you are looking for in your next role and how it will help you to reach your career objectives.

To avoid the feeling that you are rambling on, you can structure your description into an essentials section and an additional section. At the end of the essentials section, pause, and ask if they would like you to continue. If you’ve said enough, they will move on to the next section. If not, you can continue to outline your achievements and ambitions. You may also wish to include something about your life outside of work.

Nolan Recruitment is a Specialist Engineering Recruitment Agency. One of the UK's best Engineering & Technical Recruiter

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