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After almost two years of conducting our working lives behind a screen, face-to-face interviews are back - with many hiring organisations favouring a return to meeting prospective candidates in person before offering them a role.
This presents a challenge as many candidates have become comfortable with the concept of working from home where everything from dress codes to communication methods and even working hours have been increasingly flexible and relaxed.
During the pandemic virtual interviews became the norm and key concerns for candidates were the ability to connect to the various conferencing tools, the reliability of internet connections and learning to understand how an organisation’s culture and fit aligned with their personal values remotely.
Now that Covid-19 restrictions are easing, we are seeing a shift back to face-to face interviews which means candidates are having to readjust to meeting prospective employers in person and the different issues this raises.
However, while virtual interviews served us well during the pandemic, it is impossible to beat in-person interviews for genuine engagement. This is particularly important when hiring for roles which demand strong social skills, such as client-facing or senior leadership positions.
There are also fewer distractions in face-to-face interviews which take place in a professional setting, and the potential for internet glitches, or so called ‘background bias’ where candidates may be judged on their home environment, which could be detrimental to their overall chances of getting hired, are fewer.
So, if you are invited to your first face-to-face interview in nearly two years how should you prepare to make sure you ace it?
The tips provided in our Preparing for an Interview and 6 Ways to Make a Good Impression in an Interview blogs are still highly relevant, however there are a few more points you may want to think about in light of the current climate…
Plan your journey
It may seem simple, but believe it or not you can make a great impression before you’ve even stepped inside the employer’s office by arriving on time, if not 10 minutes early, for your interview. Punctuality is a strong indicator of your professionalism and enthusiasm for the role. Research the address and how you are going to get there. Give yourself plenty of time to allow for traffic, train delays or any other obstacles that may arise on the day. It is always easier to arrive early and wait in your car or a coffee shop to do some final preparation than find yourself rushing.
Dress to Impress
If you have been working from home or in a hybrid environment, chances are that you may have relaxed how you dress for work. Remember, your appearance reflects on how seriously you are taking the role. Wear appropriate clothes that indicate how you would represent the company. A neat, tidy and clean appearance will portray professionalism. Equally, make sure that you do not overdress by wearing too much jewellery, make up or a bottle of perfume. And lastly, don’t forget to check well in advance of your interview whether the clothes you would usually wear to an interview still fit – and are comfortable – many of us are still battling a little extra lockdown weight!
Consider Your Posture and Body Language
One of the main differences between a virtual and face-to-face interview is the addition of non-verbal cues. These are often unintentional physical signals you are sending to the interviewer or interviewers about how comfortable, relaxed and confident you are. If you slouch in your chair, shift around in your seat, fiddle with jewellery or look around the room rather than at the people interviewing you, you will appear nervous, distracted or even rude. By sitting up straight, with your shoulders back and making eye contact you are showing that you are confident in what you are saying and in your ability to succeed in the role. While it is difficult in a nerve-racking situation like an interview to stay calm and focused at all times, do not underestimate the difference these gestures can make to the interviewer’s perception of you, so try to keep those nerves in check!
Similarly, if you are a naturally nervous, anxious or shy person make every effort to appear confident. Preparation is the key to achieving this. Unlike a virtual environment, you need to ensure you know your CV inside out (don’t rely on having it in front of you) and be prepared for questions on it as well as having answers prepared for the 10 Classic Interview Questions. Make sure you have researched the company and the people you will be meeting thoroughly and that you are prepared to answer questions around the contribution you will make to them and why you are the best person for the role. Remember confidence is key to convincing them to hire you over another candidate.
We hope that the above has been helpful but for further information about how to nail your next interview, download our FREE Interview guide here.