The hours before your interview

4 things you can do before your interview to make sure you’re making a good impression.


By The Notch Team
July 2016

The few hours before the interview are nerve-wracking, but also very critical. This is when you can make sure that all the preparation you have done so far reflects in the way you present yourself. Here are some things we think you should include in your pre-interview regime.

Get to know your interviewer

Interviews can often be awkward, and having talking points beforehand will help you ease some of the tension. Your interviewer has probably already looked at your CV. In fact, if it’s not your first round interview, they have probably been briefed by his/her colleagues. It’s important that you know a little bit about them as well. Researching some basic things like where they studied, previous employers, or even about their role within their current organisation can often save you from awkward silences during the interview. You might also find something in common between you and the interviewer, potentially a conversation starter, which could set you apart from some of the other candidates.

Think about the image you want to project during your interview and choose an outfit that will create a positive perception…

Dress for the occasion

In an age where acceptable business casual can extend from a sober suit to shorts, this question can be tricky. A suit and tie might be expected at a finance company but is less likely to be appropriate for an interview at a startup. Think about the image you want to project during your interview and choose an outfit that will create a positive perception, and is appropriate given the time of year, your location, and most crucially, the company itself.

If you’re on the fence, it is good to err on the side of conservative and classic. Even in a setup that is more casual, you want to fit in and show you have an understanding of the company culture, but you can still look professionally dressed down. A collared shirt/blouse and jeans with closed-toe shoes is a safe bet for a job interview in a more casual work culture.

If you have any doubts on what to wear to an interview (and don’t have a contact at the company you can ask), consider asking an industry expert or practice interviewer about what the dress culture is at the office.

Always show up on time – in fact, always show up 10 minutes early.

Carry the interview essentials

Always bring a copy of your CV to the interview, even if the company already has one on file. If you don’t see one in the interviewer’s hand, offer them a copy at the start of the interview. Often, interviewers will use that as a way to kick off the initial introduction, after which you can focus on those aspects of yourself that you weren’t able to capture on paper.

The other ‘must have’ interview items are a pen and paper (notebook). This is not just expected, but also critical for case studies, stress tests and other technical or quantitative interviews, where you will find yourself jotting notes and doing rough calculations. In some cases, it is worth making sure you have a calculator (either on your phone or otherwise), for some of the trickier number crunching you could be asked to do. If you are not sure whether you will need to write notes, assume that you will and carry stationery with you. It demonstrates a level of preparedness which shows how badly you want the job.


Be punctual

Always show up on time – in fact, always show up 10 minutes early. One of the first things interviewers will notice, and one that leaves an immediate impact is whether or not you were on time. The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are responsible, reliable, prepared and most importantly, excited for this opportunity. Being late to an interview undermines those qualities. Instead, it sends a message that either you can’t manage your own time well, or worse, don’t value your interviewer’s time. It’s better to be there a little bit early and wait for your interviewer, than have your interviewer wait for you. Having said that, in the event that you are late, in spite of accounting for traffic, detours and slow drivers, make a quick courtesy call to the interviewer or HR lead to let them know.

These are just a few things we think you should do to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Of course, you should still make sure you know all about the company, have familiarized yourself with key content and have practiced for the interview.

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