10 all-conquering ways to make an awesome first interview impression

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So you have cruised past the first application stage and now been invited for a telephone or Skype interview (eeek!).

But don’t worry, we have some top tips to make sure you are prepared and ready to smash that interview.

Avoid any background noise

Not only could any background noises be distracting for the interviewer, they will also be super distracting for you. Make sure you turn off your music and television and tell your house mates to zip it for the next half hour and not barge into your room mid-call (hopefully for a morning interview they will be fast asleep!).

Remember – a nice quiet place will make you calmer, ready for the call and ensure nothing can distract you from all the wonderful thoughts and information you have stored in your brain. And finally, focus on what’s important.

Research on every level

Research is the key! You need to show you know your stuff, namely:

  • Research the company - Do you know exactly what the business does? Who its clients are? What products and services they provide?
  • Research the role you are applying for - What does your role involve? What do you enjoy about the role that has made you apply for the job?
  • Research the company's competitors - What sets the product, service and company apart fro the business's competitors?
  • Most importantly - if you're not sure of the facts, don't say them!

Get your personality across from the beginning

The interviewer wants to hear that you know your stuff, but also wants to see some of your personality shine through from the beginning of the interview. How can you do this I hear you ask?

RateMyPlacement’s top tip for coming across well: smile through the phone; even if they can’t see it you can always hear a smile!

Build up a rapport from the start of the call

Building up a rapport from the start of the call can instantly make you feel calmer, as well as making it far easier for the interviewer. Why not ask how they are and how their day has been? It shows you are a friendly, chatty person and it is always great to find out a little bit more about the person interviewing you.

At the end of the day, if you were to get the advertising internship you may have to speak to many different clients on the phone, so practicing building up a rapport is very important here!

Develop your answers – STAR

The interviewer wants to know as much as possible about you and it is your chance to showcase yourself and show off all the experience you have.

For example, if you’re asked ‘are you part of any societies?’ and you are, tell them what society it is, why you joined and what skills you think you could bring to the role after being part of that society.

Here, the STAR technique will be your savour!

  • What was the Situation?
  • What was the Task?
  • What was the Action?
  • And most important, what was the end Result?

Questions at the ready

Be prepared!

Why not think of some questions you could be asked? Competency-based questions are common and almost always asked in interviews.

Think of a time you have worked in a team / led a team, or how about when you have showed some excellent communication skills? Prepare your answers. The good thing about these interviews is that you can always have notes in front of you to give you a nudge.

Just remember though – you can never be too prepared. And also make sure you have thought of some key questions you can ask the interviewer. You will always be asked if you have any questions at the end, and you should always ask some! Otherwise you won’t seem interested.

The four pillars

During your interview remember to bring in everything from all four pillars. But what are these four pillars I hear you ask?

  • Academic - school/uni/modules
  • Work experience 
  • Extra-curricular - sports/societies
  • Social - what do you enjoy doing? (try to avoid sitting in the pub)

And of course, remember to develop those answers and relate them back to the question being asked to show why they’re relevant.

Skype interview

Many companies now hold Skype interviews but don’t be scared. This is a great way for the interviewer to see your happy cheerful face on a Monday morning! Good times.

When preparing for a Skype interview, remember the interviewer does not want to be seeing photos of you and your friends getting drunk on the wall behind you…or any inappropriate posters!

Try to find a neutral background where you will be the focus of the Skype interview with no distractions loitering behind. (Avoid sitting in bed and doing your interview – this will just make you look very lazy and unprepared!)

Also, remember to dress appropriately. You definitely don’t want the interviewer to see you lounging about in your PJs. After all, it is always better to dress up rather than dress down. Plus it shows you are passionate about the role you are applying for.

Avoid the fillers

Fillers? What do we mean by fillers? ‘Errrrrr’ ‘ummmmm’ ‘sooo’ ‘like’ (the list goes on…and on). Avoid those fillers, as hard as it is. If you cannot think of an answer to the question being asked, take your time but don’t fill that time up with an ‘errrr’. It can be a massive turn-off for employers, as well as very frustrating.

Practice makes perfect

Of course, last but not least – practice makes perfect! You might not want to chat to yourself on your lonesome in your room, but why not pester your housemate and get them to ask some questions so you can practice answering.

After all, in the words of Mary Poppins you want that interview to be ‘practically perfect in every way’.

Good luck!

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