Setting up an interview can sometimes be a difficult task, and to avoid going backwards and forwards, the best thing to do is to make sure you know your availability, as changing it at a later date can sometimes look like you are not fully committed.
Once set up, you need to make sure you know where you are going. It may sound silly, but just get onto Google Maps and see exactly where you need to be. It will give you an idea of what the building looks like, whether there is parking etc.
I have done it in the past where I have driven past the building 3 times before realising that it was above a shop! At least if you research the address first, you will be able to see where you need to go, and also see if there is parking on site or not.
It is vital that you are NOT LATE for the interview. Now, there are circumstances sometimes when you just cannot control this but I always advise my candidates to make sure that they give themselves an extra 30 minutes on the journey time than what it is set to take. So what if you get there early (I will come onto that next). At least you are there, you are not panicked and you can give yourself a chance to straighten your tie, do your hair, read through your CV and make sure you are prepared.
If you are late, you must let the client know in good time. You will have a pretty good idea if you are going to be late when you are on your way. Even if there is a slight chance that you could be, it is always better to let them know. There is nothing worse than waiting around for someone to turn up over your lunch break only for them to turn up 20 minutes late, when you could have nipped out and got something to eat. Also, the client may know of a different route to take to negate any traffic.
On the subject of route planning, if, like me, you rely 100% on Satnav, you need to make sure it works properly, is charged up and is reliable. Still familiarise yourself with the route as sometimes in city centers, they can stop working.
I would never suggest going to reception any longer than 7 minutes before the interview. You don’t want to disrespect the interviewers time by arriving too early. It may make them feel that you are in a rush and they may feel bad about keeping you waiting. I once had a candidate arrive 30 minutes before the start time, and the client told me afterwards that he found this extremely disrespectful. There is being seen to be keen and eager, and then there is annoying! By getting there 7 minutes early, you still demonstrate that your time keeping is good, and allow them to finish off what they were doing before seeing you. Most people use a computer based calendar nowadays and so they will get a prompt to remind them that you are coming anyway, and so will start to wrap things up in preparation for your arrival.
If you find yourself waiting in reception, it is good to have a look around and maybe have a little chat with the receptionist. If you get on with them, they may put in a good word, or at least say that you seemed OK! Every little point helps! Also remember, that they may be on the phone and so be cautious when you approach them. A lot of client s display certificates and awards in the reception. Have a look at these, is shows interest.
In terms of attire, I always tell my candidates to wear a suit. That means: Trousers, shirt, tie (if a male), jacket and polished shoes. This is for every interview they attend (1st, second, final etc) even if it is an informal chat. I always say that you need to try to be better dressed than your client. At least that way, they can see that you are taking it seriously. Your consultant will let you know if it is anything different. And really, what is the worst that can happen, you look overdressed, it is better than being under dressed and gives off a great first impression. On the subject of jacket and trousers, they need to be the same. Wearing a different jacket to trousers just doesn’t look good!
I recently had a candidate who turned up to an interview not wearing a tie and jacket. Nor did the client. But the first thing that the client said to me was question how seriously the candidate was in looking for another job.
I always suggest taking 2 copies of your CV with you (if there are 2 people interviewing, then take 3 copies). You should have a copy with you and you should be prepared to give each interviewer one copy to look through. The important thing here is, know your CV. I mean, really know it. You should have read through it 4-5 times to know exactly what you have written so that you are not surprised by anything that you may be asked that is in your CV.
The general rule of thumb is that a 1st interview is designed to see if you can do the job, and the second interview is to ascertain whether you will culturally fit with the business. There are several variations on this. Some may only do 1 interview. Some companies invite you in for a third time to meet everyone and sign the contract. Some ask for a presentation.
Mobile Phones in an interview. Simply, just turn it off, or if you are parked in a company car park, leave it in your car turned off. The only situation I can see where you would need your phone in an interview is if the client asks you your availability to meet again, and you have a diary on it. I had a candidate recently who answered a phone in the interview (and the call was about another job!). The client let him finish the call and then ended the interview. It is a huge lack of respect and everyone knows that it is a no no. Therefore, save yourself the worry, by just turning it off as soon as you arrive.
If you are a smoker, I would not advise smoking before an interview. I never have smoked and so don’t really understand, and some colleagues have told me that it helps calm your nerves. The way I look at it is; Firstly, you can never 100% get rid of the smell. No amount of mints, or driving with your windows open, will neutralise it. Therefore, you are going to be going into an interview, with your clean shoes, pressed shirt, shiny shoes, smelling of smoke. Secondly, if your interviewer is a non smoker, it may give off the wrong impression.
Other things you need to consider for an interview is to make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged. We recently had a candidate go to an interview, and on his way, he broke down and had no means of contact as his phone had ran out of charge! By simply making sure that it was fully charged, he would have been fine, and could have called someone to help him, but also to let someone know that he was going to be late.
Petrol: Make sure you have enough in your car to get you there. If you are running late, but need to put petrol in your car too, this is going to make you even later.
Have the telephone number for the company you are going for an interview with. If you have done your research, you will know where they are, where there is parking etc, but sometimes, if a road is closed, or a car park is full, they may be able to help you find somewhere else. It will also allow them to let the interviewer know that you are potentially running late.
Have some spare change with you in case you need to park in a car park that doesn’t accept card payments.
In an interview, you want to give yourself every single chance of getting the job, and so anything that can work against you, just isn’t worth it.
Car parking. What a strange subject to mention in a blog in interviews.. Really? I used to work in an office 2 storeys up, where I overlooked the car park. Some people used to arrive in the car park driving like idiots. Speeding around the bend to find a space, music pumping, talking on the phone. What a mistake. You haven’t even got out of your car yet, and people in the organisation are talking about you in a negative way. You’ll know if there is parking or not from the research you have done into how to get there. If there is a car park, great. Just make sure you approach it nicely, park straight (you don’t want the MD to think you cannot park), carefully (you wouldn’t want to knock the Receptionists mirror off) and are not seen to be breaking the law by talking on your phone. Also, I always tell candidates to make sure their car is clean. The chances that people will see it are slim, but if it is clean, then it gives the impression that you look after your belongings (can only be a good thing)
There was an interesting news article earlier in the year about a candidate that created an awful first impression. Have a read of this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-31538480
The first handshake of the interview is important. Please please please (if you do suffer from sweaty hands) make sure they are dry. This is largely solved by arriving on time so that you are not stressed. There are few things worse than shaking someone’s hand where it is soaking wet. Just make sure they are dry – simple. Make sure it is firm (but not crippling) and assertive. None of this gripping the fingers malarkey. This is the same for whether it is a man or woman who you are meeting.
Questions: Always think of a few questions to ask in the interview. You need to think of about 5 because you can guarantee that some of them would have been answered throughout the interview. Asking questions solidifies interest. Even if you are no longer interested, you need to appear to be ( I will come to that next). Things like company goals and personal progression are all good areas to question around. It shows that you are thinking about your future and considering a role with the company. (See the page (Interview Questions)
If you are no longer interested in the role, that is fine. You are fine to tell the client this but you need to do so in a way as to not offend. Remember that your paths may cross again in the future and you may find yourself going for a job where this person is interviewing you again. Just politely say that from what you have heard, you don’t feel the role is for you.
Immediately after your interview, it is always good practice to call your consultant and give them your feedback from the interview. The reason for this is because it is fresh in your mind and they can then call the client. It again shows interest. There is nothing worse than not hearing back from a candidate, only for the client to call in asking for your feedback, and the consultant not hearing from you. It looks bad and makes it look like the two of you are not talking.
When you leave, remember the same etiquette as when you arrived. You may need to sign out. Give your ‘Visitor’ badge back. And then when you drive out, do it in the same manner as when you arrived. Only when you are no longer visible is it OK to turn the music up and put your foot down!