Updated: Jul 1
Job interviews are intimidating and nerve wracking, especially at the start of your career. Here are some tips to help you through the process. These will help you prepare, during the interview and afterwards.
1 - Research the job, the company and the interviewers
It is always critical to do your research before a job interview. Remember that you should look into the company and the content it produces as well as the role you are applying for. Take a look on LinkedIn and see if there are people that are doing or have done the role before. Sometimes they can provide good insight. But you should also research the people who will be doing the interview. It does no harm to demonstrate that by mentioning their career or where they have worked when answering or asking questions.
2 - Rehearse and practise
In radio we always read scripts out loud to check for errors and flow and for interviews it is worth doing the same thing with your answers. Use a friend or colleague to practise your answers. Think about how long your answers are. If you speak for too long interviewers can get impatient as they want to engage with you. If your answers are too short, it might reflect a lack of knowledge or insight. Practising the answers will also help your confidence and calm some of those nerves. Do not over rehearse your answers though, as you want to sound natural.
3 - Be professional
This sounds so obvious - but I have known people to do strange things at interviews. Sometimes the nerves affect your judgement. Remember the environment you are in, even if you know the people already. If you work at the company, treat the process as if you are an outsider. Follow all the same procedures you would do for a new organisation. Always dress smartly and do not be late! Avoid arriving too early and instead find somewhere nearby to sit and do final preparation and then make your way to the interview on time.
If the interview is online, ensure you have tested your equipment beforehand. Interviews can be on Teams, Zoom, Google Meet and various other video systems, so do not leave it until the interview time to find out if these work on your computer. For video interviews, make sure the background is not distracting (for you or them).
Body language is also key to being professional. If you're too relaxed, the impression can be negative. Whether in person or online, you should make sure you have positive and engaged body language and when you can, good eye contact.
4 - Steady those nerves!
It is normal to be nervous at an interview and you must find a way to use those nerves to help you concentrate and focus. If your interview is face to face, I recommend taking a notebook with you and a hard copy of your CV. At the introduction, mention that you have a copy of your CV in case they need it and ask if it is OK to take notes during the interview. No one will ever say no. It is an assertive thing to do and it gives you something to physically hold on to, which can help with nerves. And here's the extra tip - you can prepare some notes in that notebook beforehand as a reminder for things to say or ask!
If the interview is online - you can still say about making notes to show the interviewers why you are writing things down.
5 - Listen and ask good questions
This is where nerves can take over. Sometimes it means you stop listening properly and begin to panic. Use the notebook to make notes about things said that you can then ask about later on in the interview. NEVER have no questions at the end. Always find something to ask about. Use your experience or knowledge (of the role) to ask insightful and interesting questions. Also use this opportunity to mention achievements that you have not yet brought up. Asking a question framed around your experience or achievements can be hugely effective. Try and avoid generic or insipid questions like "career prospects" as they rarely have value.
It is important to ask about salary, but leave it until they mention it or the end of the interview.
6 - Be a STAR
The STAR method is well-known and a great way to think about how to answer the questions. For media roles this is even more important, as you must demonstrate to the panel or interviewers that you can add value to the role. Use examples of content produced and structure answers around situation, task, action and result. This should already be done on your CV and in your cover letters but have more examples ready to use or expand on those outlined in the application.
Some useful guidance on the STAR technique can be found here: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/careers-advice/interview-advice/the-star-method
7 - Follow-up and ask for feedback
It is imperative to follow up after an interview. Initially you should send a thank you to the main contact, whether that is HR or the hiring manager. Let them know you are available to answer any further questions should they have them. Unless you are given a specific time period for being told whether you have got the job, follow up after 5 working days. Avoid emailing the 'chase' email on weekends, late on a Friday or first thing on a Monday.
If you get radio silence, then send another email after 5 more working days. I would be persistent until you get a response. Sadly, even after interviews, recruiters can be very poor with letting you know.
If you get a rejection email, always ask for feedback but be aware that a lot of the time that won't happen or it will be generic and sometimes misleading.
All of the above should help you with interviews, but if you want to practise, we offer interview training sessions to build your confidence. Drop us a line to find out more.