How to Prepare for a Job Interview
Job interviews can be stressful, especially if you’re feeling unprepared. There is a lot to think about, from what to wear, to what they might ask and what kind of first impression you might make. We’re aiming to take the hassle out of your prep with expert advice from a recruiter and a psychologist; we’ve even surveyed the hiring managers of the UK to find out exactly what they are looking for.
What to Wear to a Job Interview
It’s important to present yourself well at a job interview and first impressions really do count, as over 40% of hiring managers in the UK have admitted to turning down a candidate based on their outfit.
Tip: Stay away from casual wear including caps, joggers and ripped jeans as our survey revealed these items gave hiring managers a bad first impression.
Tom Sharp has over 13 years’ experience in recruiting multidisciplinary professionals for SMEs to FTSE 100 companies. Tom is now a director and co-founder at Post Recruitment, a recruitment consultancy based in Leeds.
"A suit/formalwear should always be the go-to option when attending an interview, there might be a temptation to go for a more relaxed look in some environments, but never on a first round interview"’
- Formal knee-length dress or pencil skirt or cigarette trousers
- Fitted blazer
- Polished flat pumps or a mid heeled court shoe
- Full suit or Smart trousers with a shirt, tie and blazer
- Matching belt
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Know the Company
In order to really make a great first impression, make sure that you have done your research on the company. Depending on the sector you wish to work in, this can mean many different things but the below tips are a good place to start:
• Look at their website
• Who is the CEO?
• What does the company do?
• How do you fit in?
• Check LinkedIn: Do they have staff who have worked there for a long time and are they engaging with their audience?
Think about the reasons that you want to work for the company and how you see yourself fitting in - if you can’t find the answers you’re looking for on the website then write down these questions and ask them in your interview.
Dr Carolyn Mair is a Chartered Psychologist and developed the MA Psychology for Fashion Professionals and MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion at London College of Fashion.
‘When we wear something we feel good in, it enables us to feel confident. Feeling good in what we wear is more about perceiving that it will help us achieve what we hope to achieve. For example, if we want to be taken more seriously at work, we may choose to wear more formal clothing.’
SUITED & BOOTED
Here at Matalan, we have recently partnered with Suited & Booted to gift suits to disadvantaged men in need of formalwear for job interviews. This organisation is a great way to make good use of any suits you may have that are still in good condition but may not fit you correctly. You can take the opportunity to give your suit to someone who is in need of one and get yourself a new suit that fits correctly to ensure you make a great impression in your job interview.
If you are unsure of how your suit should fit then take a look at our helpful guide below.
Suited & Booted always need donations of high quality interview clothes – suits, jacket, trousers, shirts, shoes, ties, cufflinks and belts. To donate or find out more about them, visit their website.
What to Take with You
Aim to have all of your documents ready a few days before your interview if possible, this way there will be less stress on the day. Here’s a list of what you’re likely to need:
- Pen and paper or notebook
- A copy of your CV
- Photo ID – passport or driving licence
- Prepared questions – what you’d like to ask your interviewer (these should be about the role and the company, not about pay and holidays etc.)
- Directions to the workplace
- The name, job role & contact details of the person you are meeting
How to Make a Good First Impression
89% of the hiring managers we surveyed believe that first impressions are very important, so make those first few seconds count!
‘The best candidates are calm, well presented and prepared. An important part of making a good impression is to ask questions to the interviewer: ‘What do you like about working here?’ ‘Why did you join?’ ‘What do you see as your next step in the business?’ Are all great questions to ask throughout the interview.’
How to be Memorable
Dr Mair suggests:
‘Interviewees should be well-groomed and clean. They should have done their research on the company and role. The clothes they choose for the interview should show that the candidate will fit in with this and the organisational culture. Accessories are a great way of dressing up a formal outfit, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.
‘Research has found that wearing red to an interview was least likely to result in the candidate being hired.’ Dr Carolyn Mair
To really stand out from the crowd, Tom suggests researching the company, but not just the usual stuff: ‘Researching recent press releases, new products or what the company are saying on social media is a great place to start.’