21 January 2022

8 tips to master your face-to-face interviews

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CV? Done. Application? Sent. Face-to-face interview? Invite received.

First of all, that’s great news. It means an employer is eager to meet and find out more about you. All that effort you put into your CV and application really paid off.

The interview process can be quite a daunting prospect and it’s okay to be somewhat bricking it. However, before you start breaking out in nervous sweats…there are steps you can take to help calm you down and make your impending IRL interview a success.

Read on to find out more…


Face-to-face interviews are still happening..?

Yes! Despite the whole planet moving to a virtual way of working, lots of companies are still interviewing their potential employees in person.

This can happen for many reasons, including…

  • The Digital Divide… Currently, 1.5 million households don’t have internet access, making it super hard to do tasks that other people might find easy. So a virtual interview won’t work if a potential employee has connectivity problems.
  • Customer-facing roles… Perhaps the role is customer-facing, and you need to come in to see the environment you could potentially be working in.

Remember, measures will always be in place to ensure you and your interviewer are as safe as possible. These include…

  • Interviews taking place in well-ventilated rooms
  • Minimal contact and lots of space between interviewer and interviewee
  • Mask-wearing (if not exempt)
  • Hand sanitiser, everywhere.

If you feel uncomfortable doing a face-to-face interview, be sure to speak with the employer well in advance to request a virtual interview instead.

Tips and tricks

1. Do your research

You’ve probably read this multiple times. That’s because it’s true. Researching the company and the role before applying is always a good idea.

Not only does it show the interviewer that you genuinely want to work there, but it’ll also help you decide if it’s the apprenticeship you really want to go for.

It’s also worth thinking about what you want from a company, as well as your priorities. Do you want to work somewhere that cares about social issues? Or perhaps you’re keen to have a healthy work-life balance?

It’ll also help you come up with those all-important interview questions…

2. Come with questions

Yes, an interview is a chance for the employer to get to know you. But you should also see it as an opportunity to find out everything about the business you’re hoping to join.

Ask as many questions as time will allow about the actual role you’ll be doing. Find out how they measure success within the role, its challenges, and what the employer is expecting.

Some questions you can ask:

  • What’s the company culture like? (Make sure that the workplace isn’t filled with soulless zombies who eat lunch at their desks)
  • What benefits come with the role? (Find out what perks you’ll get besides pay, e.g. holidays, mental health days or discounts)
  • What kind of support do you have in place for those having a hard time with their mental health?
  • What do you like most about working for the company?

3. Become besties with your CV and cover letter

In fact, print it off and make notes. You’re going to be drawing a lot from them, so pick out the most vital bits and use them as examples when asked.

Let’s say you’re asked to describe a time when you had to problem-solve…

If you’ve used the phrase in your key skills section, whether it was handling a somewhat complicated customer request or issues that arose during a project, make sure it’s already in your CV – then you have your answer already prepared!.

There’s also nothing wrong with bringing your CV to refer to during the interview. Just try and avoid reading directly off it.

Need a little help putting together the CV to end all CVs?

4. Plan your journey

If possible, do this the day before your interview. That way, you can plan a whole routine for the day – cheeky Starbucks trip included. 

Aim to arrive 15 minutes before your interview time. 

On the morning of your interview, check your route to see if there are any delays. CityMapper is a godsend as it has live information that’ll let you know of any issues with your route, plus find an alternative that’ll still get you there on time.

Life happens. So if you are running late for any reason, stay calm and let the interviewer know your estimated arrival time ASAP.

5. Dress smartly

Dress codes vary between companies. But as a general rule of thumb, you should always try and dress smartly for your interviews unless told otherwise…

When picking out your outfit, think Sunday’s best (minus the oversized church hat).

6. Remember your body language

Nothing says “I don’t want this job” more than a resting “did I leave the oven on?” face.

Interviewers will take everything into account. So, greet everyone you meet, smile and keep regular eye contact even when you’re not speaking.

Good posture will also keep you alert. However, don’t put too much thought into it – the most important thing is to be present and listen carefully.

7. Relax

It’s natural for your mind to immediately start racing at 3000 mph when you’re invited to an interview.

Being nervous is somewhat a good thing. Why? Because it shows you care. You want to impress and ultimately get hired.

But the nicest thing you could do for yourself during the interview process is to relax. When you’re asked questions, breathe and take your time to answer them.

And why not make a day of it? After your interview, take a walk around the local area – maybe even get yourself some lunch. Treat yourself to a glazed doughnut (with sprinkles) to say well done.

8. Follow up with a thank you

Sending a short email thanking the interviewers for their time shows enthusiasm and respect. 

It can also be your opportunity to re-send your CV or any other information that’ll help make their decision.