Getting to the interview stage of the Chevening application process is a significant achievement. What can you do now in preparation for acing the interview?
How to present yourself during a job interview
It’s not just what you say that affects your success in interviews. How you present yourself through body language, attire and even your handshake makes a difference.
Job hunting can be a difficult and challenging process. It takes a lot of self-confidence and determination to land your dream role, as well as a lot of time spent doing your research on the company and preparing for the steps in the interview process. So what can you do in order to best present yourself and maximise your chances of securing the job?
Dress for success
Before your interview, consider what clothing is going to be most appropriate for the environment. This generally means wearing professional attire and avoiding clothes that fit poorly or could seem flashy. Don’t choose anything too tight as it’s also important to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. Not being able to breathe properly won’t do you any favours!
Arrive in good time
An interview scenario is stressful enough without adding a mad dash to get there punctually. Leave yourself plenty of time to find the building, locate the reception, and get comfortable with your surroundings. Being late, or cutting it close, will make you seem disorganised from the start. Chevening Alumna Wendy Phuong even advises leaving enough time to give yourself a pep talk – ‘To ease your nerves before setting foot in the interview room, tell yourself that whatever happens next, the interview will still be a valuable learning experience for you.’
Get the handshake right
The old classic – a firm handshake is an essential part of the first impression you make on an interviewer. According to National Geographic, the handshake is a custom that originated as a sign of peace.
Try to make sure your hand is clean and dry as you go into the interview, no matter how nervous you are!
In general, it’s best to use a medium-firm grip that shows you’re self-assured but not too aggressive or overbearing. The right amount of pressure will show your confidence and professionalism.
Remember eye contact
It might sound obvious, but eye contact is an important part of connecting with your interviewers. Making eye contact is a sign of active listening and understanding. It indicates that you’re giving your interviewer your undivided attention, which in itself demonstrates respect. It just comes naturally to some people, but for others it can be helpful to follow the 50/70 rule: Aim to make eye contact 50% of the time when you speak and 70% of the time when you listen.
An common way of expressing nerves is fidgeting, which is both noticeable and off putting to interviewers. A survey of over 500 hiring managers conducted by a USA based workforce solutions company found that of the candidates they’ve rejected for a position, over one-fifth of them were continually fidgeting, which to them indicated a lack of confidence and preparation for the interview.
It might not be possible to stop fidgeting entirely, but you can minimise it. Try to keep your hands empty. Holding pens, wearing rings, or even your watch might tempt you to start fidgeting. You could also try to train yourself to wriggle your toes rather than your hands – it might sound silly, but it will release some nervous energy, and your interviewer will be none the wiser.
Other tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t cross your arms – crossing your arms could lead the other person to feel like you’re putting up a barrier between the two of you—and that could also lead them to think that you don’t trust them or don’t want to be there.
- Switch off your phone – the last thing you need in a high pressure interview situation is your phone ringing and distracting you mid-answer. Don’t risk it, switch it off!
- And finally, remember:
‘Even if you don’t have the most competitive profile; being proactive, curious and even fun can make the difference.’
. – Chevening Alumnus, Leandro Guardia
We recently spoke to Chevening Alumnus Yarden Woolf, one of the leaders of the Chevening Israel Alumni Network (CIAN), to find out how the group relaunched in 2020 and soon became bigger than ever.
Priscilla is a student studying at Chevening Partner, Robert Gordon University. Here she shares tips on how to boost employment prospects, using her own insight as an international scholar studying at RGU.