The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

How to prepare for that all-important job interview

Got an important interview coming up? Charlie Daniels on how to make sure you stand out from the crowd


The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” may seem cliché but it happens. We judge people by how they look and dress and this is no exception when being interviewed. The interviewer does not know you, so uses clues they have, what you’re wearing for example, to decide who you are. What you wear conveys how important the interview is to you and your sense of pride in your appearance. This first impression you’re giving your interviewer should make a positive statement about your maturity even before opening your mouth. You will never have the chance to make a first impression again so this initial moment is crucial.

As well as a CV, a strong cover letter is also important when applying for work, as most employers on average only spend half a minute looking over each application. With this in mind, it is essential that your cover letter makes a good impression within this time. Ensure you address your application to the right person, this will usually be listed on the job advert and if not, call and ask to show some initiative. Letters addressed ‘to whom it may concern’ may lack the personal touch needed to be considered. Your cover letter should contain information of why you are the best choice for the company, but it is not your CV so don’t repeat information. Most importantly the cover letter should be brief, concise and no longer that one side of A4.

These next tips may seem simple and obvious but in the rush to prepare for an interview it can be easy to overlook the little things. For instance, wiping your hand before a handshake looks very suspect! You are likely to be nervous before meeting someone for the first time, particularly as you will have a lot riding on this first meet – but don’t forget to smile! Wear a watch. A study has shown that you are more likely to get the job by wearing one – well that’s a freebie. You never know exactly what will happen in an interview but one thing you can know for definite: if you’re late, you’re not getting the job, no matter how prepared you are.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that if you have reached the interview stage you obviously have something to offer them. This is an important thing to remember if you’re feeling a lack in confidence – out of potentially thousands of applicants, it’s you they want to meet in person. Likewise, after the interview has finished don’t spend your time agonising over every detail of how it went. You have done your best and you will know soon enough!