The secret to acing job interviews is to be prepared. And the best way to solve problems is to spot potential problems before they crop up.
Problem solving is a Young Professional skill that’s all about staying calm and thinking things through when challenges crop up in life and work. Logical reasoning sounds hard, but you do it every day – and it’s one of the most useful skills you will ever learn. When you feel lost and can’t see the forest for the trees, logical reasoning will guide you!
Young Professional Challenge: Read through these problem solving tips for interviews and make a note of any that apply to you.
Problem solving tips for job interviews
Location, location, location
One of the best ways to get your panic on before an interview is to not know where it is. Sometimes it might be tucked away on a back street that isn’t clearly marked. Sometimes it will be an office in a huge building full of different offices, and you have to get past security/reception and use a special lift.
The best way to solve this classic problem? Know the territory in advance.
- Keep the whole address (including postcode) somewhere where you won’t lose it and you check the address whenever you want.
- Use a tool like Google Maps to see the exact location on a map. You can save map locations to your phone or phone calendar.
- Get to the job interview too early. This gives you time to find it, and even gives you time to get lost. Getting there early means no panic!
- Getting there early also means you have time to see how you feel about travel arrangements and the local environment of where you could be working. Do you like it? Is the journey one you could do every day? If you felt nervous at first, is it a journey you could get used to?
Prepare your job interview clothes the day before
- A business-flavoured suit or ‘smart casual’ is always a good look if you’re not sure.
- Remember, first impressions count. The interviewer will take seconds to make a first impression based on how you look.
- It’s better to dress up than dress down. Employers and future colleagues will understand this is your interview look, not your everyday look. If you look too casual to show your relaxed personality, they will wonder how much you really want this job.
- If you wear make-up, keep it daywear make-up, not evening make-up.
- Make sure your chosen interview outfit is clean from tip to toe and even ironed if it needs to be. That might mean thinking about washing and ironing days before the interview!
- Have your job interview outfit laid out and ready the night before. That way you don’t have to stress about it on the big day.
- Want to see what other people wear at the company? Have a look at the empoyer’s website and social media accounts. They might show photos of staff in the workplace which will give you a clue.
- Check out this infographic of job interview outfits for inspiration.
Prepare in advance for common interview questions
How would you answer these top 3 common interview questions? They get asked at almost every interview, so make sure you know your answers!
In your job interview you might get asked questions about your Young Professional skills like teamwork – so have some answers ready.
Job interview nerves? These tips might help.
Everyone can get stressed at job interviews. Everyone is different. We can all get stressed for slightly different reasons.
Hydration/nutrition: If you know your blood sugar levels go up and down, make sure you’ve got bottled water and something sweet like a carrot to have before you go in. Never go into an interview hungry.
New places: If you don’t like crowds or worry about going to new places, use a tool like Google Maps to find out as much about your travel route as possible. Make sure you get there nice and (too) early to give your brain time to unpack and get used to the new environment.
Additional needs: If you have additional needs you need to think about, you know better than anyone what those needs are. Walking aids, wheelchair access, medication, charged-up hearing aids… do whatever you need to do to eliminate surprises.
Interview nerves: If you think you might forget what to say, have a brain blip, or any other form of mild anxiety, remember it’s okay to pause, say you’d need to think about the question to give a proper answer, ask questions to fill a gap, and sip from a glass of water to collect your thoughts. Top tip: Always ask for a glass of water for the interview room in case you get dry-mouth!
We also have these three calming techniques to soothe your interview nerves. You might find they help.
Finally… make an interview checklist
Create a list of things to do and stick to it. One of our Youth Ambassadors, Kenechi Eziefula, has made his own amazing interview checklist.
Your checklist might have:
- Choose clothes
- Make sure clothes are clean
- Check location
- Check employer contact details
- Check travel times/costs
- Check CV is up to date
- Check interview bag contains keys, wallet, phone, CV, employer info, water
Preparing for problems is a great way to solve problems.
So when you get to the interview, walk in with your head held high. You’ve used problem solving skills to get rid of the most common causes of interview stress, so now all that’s left to do is have a chat with your potential new employer and see if you’re a good fit for each other!
See more: Interviews and top tips