A former colleague once told me: ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression – so don’t cock it up”.
It’s a lesson that’s as valid today as when I first heard it. And never truer than when it comes to a job interview.
Most people dread job interviews, but if you approach them in the right way you won’t freeze on the big day. Be prepared. Find out about the newspaper’s vision, its products, culture and readership. Then use that information along with the job description to provide examples of why you’re a suitable candidate.
You should know your CV inside out, but have one last read through so you can immediately answer any questions about your past employment and education.
There’s no way you can prepare for every question we throw at you, but if you’ve thought about possible responses to the more common questions, you will be less likely to be tongue-tied during your interview.
Get a good night’s sleep before the interview and don’t go out and do a Danny Cipriani. Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Sort out what you are going to wear for the interview and polish your shoes the night before.
Travelling to your interview can be stressful. Try to carry out a trial run so you know exactly how long the journey will take and plan accordingly. Rushing into the building 10 minutes late after running a mile isn’t going to impress anyone.
If you have to wait in reception before the interview room, use that time to take a few deep breaths and think about some small talk you can have with your interviewer. And use the toilets. There’s nothing worse than fidgeting in the interview because your bladder is full.
You can also take the opportunity of running your wrists under the cold tap to cool down: There’s nothing worse than a clammy handshake at the start of the interview.
Even if you don’t feel confident, act confident.
Always try to use appropriate body language in your interview, make a firm handshake, look people in the eye, smile, remember to breathe and sit up straight. Remember that if you are being interviewed by an editor he/she will be visualising how you conduct an interview in a reader’s home: If you slouch, mumble or seem disinterested you won’t get the story and the editor won’t give you the job.
You are giving a performance and the interviewers are the audience. You are the performer and you’re a solo act. But don’t panic. Remember why you’re there, be clear about what you want to say and what you want to ask, and keep your cool. Just relax and be yourself. The job interview is as much for you to see if you like the company as it is for us to see if we like you.
When asked about your current role, don’t be tempted to criticise your employer, however much you might be looking forward to leaving. Show you see the new job as a positive career move and that you’re not escaping a job you hate.
If the worst happens and you get a rejection letter instead of a job offer, don’t despair and don’t take it personally. If you struck a good rapport with your interviewer then contact them to get feedback as to why you were unsuccessful. Just remember you were interviewed because you were shortlisted. So you shouldn’t change your techniques: Keep at it and the job offer will come.