Whether you're fresh out of school or university and looking for your first job, or just looking for a new challenge, the thought of a job interview sends a chill down the spines of most people
Unfortunately, unless good ol' nepotism helps you out, you will have to endure an interview or two during your quest for the job of your dreams. You'll have friends who put together one CV, have one interview and then land themselves their perfect job - it's OK to complain about them to your loved ones when they're out of earshot, but congratulate them enthusiastically when they're around.
For most people though, job applications and interviews become a full-time job in themselves until someone finally gives them a chance.
If you're thinking of applying for a job with us then just check out our Admiral Jobs website for more information.
The panel will see you now
Sitting in an unfamiliar room being stared at expectantly by a row of unfamiliar faces can be a nerve racking experience no matter how much you prepare. There's also the fact we've all heard a horror story or two about interviewers so awful they make Lord Sugar look positively friendly.
So how do you get through an interview unscathed? Does your outfit make any difference? And can you recover from saying something silly?
If looks could kill
Well first things first, what you wear does make a difference, head of recruitment at Admiral, Andrew Viazzani, says: "It's always important to be dressed smartly for an interview, even if the day-to-day role itself doesn't require smart dress. You want to make a good first impression.
"[If they aren't smartly dressed] It makes you think they haven't made much effort in making sure they are well presented, and you can't help but think their work might also not entail much effort."
It doesn't just stop at the ankles either, Andrew says scruffy footwear could see you heading for the exit rather than a desk next to the window.
"I always quickly glance at people's shoes in interviews - you'd be surprised how many are badly scuffed and haven't been polished or cleaned," he said.
We hear what you're saying
Silly as it sounds the interviewers are listening to everything you say, ‘obviously,' you may think, but we mean everything. If you're taking part in an assessment day, for example, they'll be listening to how you interact will fellow candidates - are you overly pushy or keen to point out others' flaws?
In an individual interview they'll be listening to hear how you talk about your previous role and whether you're willing to slate your previous boss or company - not matter how bad either was, being negative doesn't look good.
They'll also want to see you think about the answers you're giving, you may be the most qualified candidate for the job but if you sit there rattling off your skill set without relating it to the question, the interviewers may just tune out.
Top tips from the expert
Andrew has these great tips to get you through any interview:
- Always research the job and role thoroughly. There will always be a couple of questions on the company, and it shows that you've made an effort to find out about it, which makes potential employers think you will make more of an effort in your role too. You'd be surprised how many people don't know much about the company they're applying for. A good source of information is a company's corporate website
- Don't bad mouth any previous employers you've worked for, even if it was bad experience. It will portray you in a negative light
- Take your time thinking about an answer - we'd rather you give a good answer than a rushed one. A good tip here is to always accept a glass of water at the beginning of the interview - you can use this to sip when you're thinking!
- Keep your answers concise, with a real life example to back them up. It can be wearing on interviewers to have someone answer questions in a long winded way, and they can switch off after a few questions, even if they don't mean to
- You will sometimes say something silly accidentally or just won't be able to answer a question. The best way to deal with it is to just put your hands up and apologise; don't just make things up. Then put it out of your mind and keep your focus on the next question. After all, no one will give a perfect interview
- Don't exaggerate with the savings or money you've made for your previous company. A skilled interviewer, with knowledge of the role/ industry, will soon catch you out, and then you'll be discredited half way through the interview, with no chance of getting the role.
Sometimes interviews don't go as you'd hoped, thankfully that usually means not answering a question in as much depth as you could have, but for some unlucky souls interviews go so badly they just wish the ground would open up and swallow them.
We asked some of our colleagues at Admiral if they'd be willing to share their interview disasters, and share they did! It seems a lot of people have a ‘friend' who's stuffed up spectacularly at an interview; here are five of our favourites:
- "Walking into the interview room and seeing everyone dressed up in suits and there's me in black shoes and trousers with a black hoodie and t-shirt as I didn't own a shirt and tie, felt like an idiot!"
- "I got asked ‘How would your friends describe you?' Without thinking I replied, ‘Um an idiot I suppose!' I was expecting a bit of a chuckle, but unfortunately the room went deathly quiet and the panel moved on to the next question quickly before giving me the chance to answer properly. Guess they're added to the list of people who would describe me as an idiot!"
- "When applying for my first job as a retail assistant, I dropped off my CV and they invited me for an interview there and then. I was 16 and unprepared when they asked me what my main strengths were and why I was suitable for the job, I answered, ‘I'm quite tall so putting things on the higher shelves shouldn't be too much of a problem'. I didn't get the job."
- "I interviewed someone who openly said he likes to go out fighting doormen on Saturday nights - safe to say we didn't employ him."
- "I walked in making sure I was keeping eye contact with the interviewers. I pulled my chair out not realising it was on wheels. When I went to sit down I found myself sitting on the floor because I'd pulled the chair out with such vigour it had wheeled to the back of the room. I had to get picked up and wait for the panel to stop laughing before I could start my interview."