Interview Blunders - 5 Tips on how to avoid them and create a fantastic first impression

26 Jun 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Turning up in sporty gear after a sweaty commute on a bike, lighting up an electric cigarette, ordering a BLT and proceeding to answer questions with a full mouth, constant mobile phone checking, wild gesticulating, unclear answering and rambling, toe tapping and knuckle cracking…these are just a few of the catastrophic moments headhunters have encountered during interviews with candidates from—believe it or not— the world of PR and corporate comms.

We all know that in PR, relationships are everything. The ability to build a rapport with someone is at the core of the profession and this one trait should be as plain as day when a PR is in an interview situation. However, it would appear that even the most seasoned pundits can get a little flustered.

Here are our top 5 pieces of advice -

1. Remember the dress code

First impressions count. Sweaty cycling gear is not going to get you off on the right foot. While many offices have adopted a smart-casual dress code, professional attire is still a must for a job interview. Make sure your outfit is clean, crisp, smart and right for the environment.

2. Sit still!

While you may think you have your nerves in check before an interview, the physical act of entering the interviewer’s territory can trigger an unexpected urge to fiddle with your clothing, chew on your nails, start tapping your toes or jigging your legs. Sit up straight, square your shoulders and focus on projecting your voice. This will take your mind off your jitters and give you an air of confidence. (If all else fails, sit on your hands!)

3. Preparation, preparation, preparation

Doing your homework on the company, having your answers rehearsed and your questions ready are obvious tips but don’t forget to work out how you’ll get to the interview location and how long it will take to get there (leaving plenty of time so that you’re not late and have time to set your mind on the task ahead). Make sure you eat before the interview. If you don’t have much of an appetite, have a light snack to keep your energy levels up and prevent any embarrassing stomach rumbles later!

4. Speak clearly and concisely

Don’t mumble. You don’t want your interviewer to have to keep asking you to repeat what you just said. Think before you answer so that you can avoid rambling. Prepare a flexible script of answers to questions you think you might be asked and draw from this to create succinct, intelligible responses.

5. Smile!

While wanting to appear professional and taken seriously, it’s still OK to smile. This is a simple and effective way to build a good rapport. Prior to the interview, visualize yourself answering all the questions clearly and impressing the interviewer with not only your knowledge but also your cheery disposition. A smile goes a long way in an interview.

This article was originally published in PR Week:

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