How to nail your job interview and stand out from the crowd!

Congratulations on securing a job interview! This is both an exciting, yet slightly nerve-wracking time! It’s important to prepare thoroughly so that not only do you give yourself the best chance of success, but you can also sit back and enjoy the process. Remember, the interview is also an opportunity for you to ask the prospective employer questions and evaluate whether their organisation and the role is the right fit for you, as well as the other way round.

To help you put your best foot forward and ensure that you stand out from competing candidates, we have put together our top tips on how to fully prepare before, during and after the big day! From understanding who the interviewers are and researching industry trends, to what to wear on the day and what not to do during the interview, we’ve got you covered!

Consider these important steps on how to prepare for a job interview

Preparation for a job interview is key. Not only will you show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework and are therefore keen to make a good first impression, you can also dig a little deeper for nuggets of information that will help you stand out.

Remember, you wouldn’t have been invited to interview if the interviewers hadn’t felt you were worth meeting! It’s an opportunity for you to demonstrate your abilities, learn more about a prospective employer and hopefully impress.

Check out our four key steps on how to prepare for a job interview below:

Planning and research

Before your interview, it is important to do your research and plan topics of discussion for on the day. In doing so, you will avoid being caught off guard and show a degree of market intelligence and investment in the prospective business that will no doubt impress.

As well as researching industry trends so that you are up to date with recent news, events and influences, it’s important to:

  • Understand who the interviewers are

Use LinkedIn and the company website to research your interviewers and their own career journeys. Things to look out for include if you have any synergies in your career history, if they have been with the business for a long time or equally are a recent joiner.

  • Find out where the interview is being held

If you are not familiar with the location, try to undertake a dummy run, check parking facilities or public transport timetables. Build in plenty of time for delays on the day to ensure you arrive in good time.

  • Study the job description and/ or person specification in careful detail

Consider how your skills and experience align with the expectation of this position. Where possible, come up with specific examples from your career which you can easily recall during the interview.

  • Research the business thoroughly

Review the company website, their LinkedIn and other social media channels, recent news, annual reports and current and past projects. Pay close attention to references of the business’ culture, ethos and values, considering how they align with your own.

  • Note some questions to ask

Note some questions that you can take into the interview room with you on the day. You will inevitably be asked if you have any questions and not asking any could call into question your level of interest in the role/business.

  • Visit the site beforehand

If you are attending an interview for a role which is site based (shopping centre management/building management), visit beforehand. If it’s a developer, at least do a drive past (if it’s a closed site), and familiarise yourself with the build etc.
Referring to your visit will demonstrate your effort and commitment and will no doubt be recognised and appreciated by the interviewers. Be sure to form opinions on the asset that you can convey at interview, ensuring you deliver these tactfully with sensitivity.

On the day

Remember that you will be one of many candidates that have been shortlisted for interview. Consider how you can stand out and make a lasting impression so that the interviewers remember you for all the right reasons, not the wrong ones! To prepare for the day, try and:

  • Get plenty of sleep!

Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before. Ideally avoid alcohol or anything else that may impair your ability or presentation.

  • Dress smart

Dress in a smart suit and shirt or dress with polished shoes. Ensure you look generally well put together. It is no longer essential that male candidates wear a tie, however if you would feel most comfortable in one then absolutely do.

As business casual dress is becoming more commonplace, there is the potential that your interviewer may be dressed more informally than you; please do not be concerned by this. It may well be that the day-to-day role is casual but for an interview it is important to look as professional as possible.

  • Try your outfit on the night before

Try your interview outfit on before the day to ensure you know exactly what you want to wear and feel comfortable and confident.

  • Don’t go overboard with the perfume!

Overpowering perfume/aftershave can be very off-putting in an interview, so don’t go overboard.

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early

Arrive at least 10 minutes early to give yourself time to settle your nerves. This is the time to compose yourself and perhaps engage in some light conversation with the reception team. Please note that how you present yourself and interact with people will be noticed, so ensure you make a great first impression on everyone you encounter (i.e. not just your interviewers).

  • Ensure phone is on silent

Ensure your phone is on silent and never answer a call or check your phone during the interview!

In the room

Throughout the interview, the interviewers will be considering three key things:

  1. Can this individual do the job?
  2. Do they seem to genuinely want the job?
  3. Will they fit with the business and the team? Are they someone I’d want to work with?

Here are some tips to make sure you can confidently assure the interviewer you are a ‘yes’ to all of the above:

  • Present a confident and firm handshake.
  • Smile! Make and maintain eye contact.
  • Remember your body language during the interview is important. Try to use open body language and avoid fidgeting.
  • Keep your answers succinct, accurate and engaging. Be careful not to miss the point of the question or worse, the point of your answer.
  • Be honest in your answers. You can sell yourself and your achievements but never lie. Only give answers that you can confidently support with examples or expand upon with opinion. Never lay claim to skills, experience or achievements that will not be backed up by referees or industry information.
  • Listen carefully – you do not want to ask a question which has already been answered.
  • Show a genuine interest in the company and role. speaking with passion and enthusiasm.
  • Never disrepute a previous employer, colleague, or contact. Whilst your criticism may be fair, it will only paint you in a negative light.
  • Avoid swearing. Even if the interviewer swears, you should not.
  • At the end of your interview you will get the chance to ask questions. If your questions have been answered, and you really can’t think of anything further that you’d like to find out, explain that you did pre-prepare questions, but they have all been answered and you are comfortable with everything at this stage.
  • End your interview by making an enthusiastic and strong statement about your interest in the job, opportunity and company. If appropriate, try and establish what the next steps will look like and timeframes within which you should expect to hear feedback.
  • Thank the interviewers for their time and the opportunity for interview.

How to nail a job interview on Zoom

Many employees are using technology during the recruitment process as virtual interviewing has become the norm. Whilst we cannot say for certain what the future will look like, we can guarantee the best talent is never going to be all in one place and remote interviewing will still take place.

If your interview isn’t face to face, virtual interviews require different preparation and there are some things you should do – and things you shouldn’t – if you want to make the best impression. This is a collection of the best advice we have compiled for candidates and clients alike, and tips we have learned from genuinely experiencing the difficulties ourselves first-hand. We learned the hard way, so you do not have to!

Set yourself set-up

We appreciate some of these are luxuries, but if you can, stick the below as best as possible:

  • A white/plain wall behind you.
  • Position yourself in the light – natural light is best.
  • The camera angle should incorporate you from the chest up.
  • A quiet location with no distractions (switch off calls and emails, shut pets (and children!) in another room).
  • Have your notes/questions and something to make notes nearby
  • Have the contact information of your recruitment consultant or the interviewer on hand – if tech fails, the interview can still take place.
  • Dress as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Check your internet connection and battery life.

Be comfortable with small talk

A video interview will never truly replace the experience of meeting someone in person. Building rapport is going to be more challenging and, naturally, interviews done remotely tend to be shorter than face to face.

Engage in the natural small talk at the start of the interview – it will not be a huge time penalty, will allow you to settle into the interview so you give your best, and allow you to get some of your personality across too.

Body language & eye contact

It is very easy to look unengaged when you are in a meeting online, dependent on where your camera is in position to the screen. Naturally, you will want to look at the face of the person on the other side – from time to time, try to remember to look directly at the camera, particularly when you are speaking, so it seems to them you are making direct eye contact.

In the same manner, gestures, body language and expressions do not translate the same as they do in person. It may feel unnatural or forced, however we recommend exaggerating some of your mannerisms and body language too – such as nodding more frequently than you would to show you are listening and engaged (rather than the screen has frozen!).

Prepare for additional questions and interview stages.

It is natural that you might have more questions than usual due to the nature of the process. You cannot get physical answers and feelings, so consider what you might need. Could the interviewer offer a virtual tour, or can an extra interview be scheduled with members of the team?

Similarly, the interviewer may have more questions for you than normal or extra interview stages. View this as a positive. They are doing their due diligence to ensure everyone is making the right decision.

After the interview

Your consultant will get in touch to discuss how the interview went and it’s important to offer your honest feedback. If the role is of genuine interest, they will do everything they can to continue you onto the next stage.

But if you decide it’s not for you, then let them know as soon as possible stating your reasons why. You won’t have wasted anyone’s time, as like we said before an interview is a two-way process and it’s important to do what’s right for you, plus your feedback will be valued and relayed sensitively.

Advance your career with Foundation Recruitment

Looking for a fulfilling career in real estate and or placemaking? Our international reach and in-depth industry knowledge will help you advance your career.

We support you in every stage of your recruitment journey, from interview tips and techniques to onboarding and aftercare, we are committed to finding the right role for you. Whether you’re starting out in the real estate or placemaking arena or you’re a seasoned professional with years of experience, we’d love to hear from you.

Submit your CV

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