Describe yourself in three words…

Job interviews can be the stuff of nightmares – but only if you’re not properly prepared. Iona Bain, financial journalist and blogger, offers some advice on the perils and pitfalls that can befall you, and suggests some possible solutions


First impressions count for a lot. Research shows that people form an impression of character in less than a second, based on just one word. Confidence without arrogance, a clear voice, firm handshake, and responding to the interviewer’s body-language (but not too much) are important to show interviewers that you and they are on the same wavelength.

Additionally, make sure you do your homework. Research the organisation, and accept that although many job descriptions demand a ‘passion’ for whatever it is they do, interviewers won’t want candidates to exude false enthusiasm. A good grasp of their core business and the positives you can apply to it are more important. Remember, if you feel caught out by a question about it when the time comes, better to admit ignorance than blag.

Take your time before answering questions. Experienced interviewers will soon spot panic or bluster. That’s what they’re there for. If you make any claim on your application, make sure you’ve thought about how it can be backed up face-to-face. Nerves can prompt silly answers, but a well-considered response will always impress more than a quick one.

It’s also important that you aren’t intimidated by your interviewers, especially if the organisation is thought to have a stuffy culture. Remember that if you’ve made it to interview, you’ve impressed them so far. Keep this in mind and act confidently, even if at the time it has to be an act. If you don’t have exactly the skills they are looking for, make the most of the skills you do have, and how they would easily transfer into this new environment.

Finally, if you end up feeling rejected because you didn’t fit in with that culture – perhaps because of your background or accent – then boost your morale by realising you probably didn’t want to work there anyway.

Published: 07 May 2015
  • Career Development
  • The Review
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  • Iona Bain
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