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Interview tips and techniques

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Interview tips and techniques

If you’ve managed to make it to the interview stage then well done, that’s half the battle! To make it this far the recruiter has clearly seen something that they like from your CV/Application Form.

Interviews form a key role in the recruitment process. It allows the recruiter a chance to find out more about your skills, knowledge and experience so they can judge your suitability for the position. At the same time, it gives you the opportunity to find out more about the job and practice; is it the one for you?

Remember, the interviewer is just another person. For all you know, this could be their first time interviewing someone. They might be nervous too.

Be Prepared

If you turn up to an interview unprepared, it shows. Not only does being prepared look far more professional, but it can help to calm your nerves.

You need to find out in advance:

  • Where and when the interview is taking place
  • How long they expect the interview to last
  • What format the interview is in
  • If there will be any tests or group exercises
  • If you are required to bring something specific along with you

You will find that most interview invitation letters will tell you the information above. If in doubt, call to check.

Once you know all the above:

  • Work out how you are going to get to the interview. If you’re not sure of where you’re going it can be worthwhile doing a test run.
  • Check if there are any planned travel disruptions on the day of your interview.

Preparing for the big day:

  • Make sure you write down all the key points which you want to make. Use the job description and person specification to help you; how do you fit and make the best candidate?
  • Many other candidates will have similar abilities and might even be graduating from the same dental school class as you. How will you distinguish yourself?
  • Research the organisation/practice with whom you have the interview. They will expect you to have at least researched the basics i.e. website, recruitment information. You can go further if you want.
  • Try to have a good night’s sleep before the interview. Staying up partying won’t help your concentration and yawning won’t help secure the job!

What to wear:

  • Pick out your outfit a good few days before. Try not to leave it until the morning of or the night before. That’s when you find out you have a big stain on your top and you have nothing else to wear!
  • It’s always best to have a back up outfit planned too, just in case.
  • Wear something formal, such as a suit or a smart dress. Avoid anything that’s too short or would be better suited to a night out on the town.
  • Make sure your outfit has been washed and it’s ironed.
  • Clean your shoes!
  • Avoid wearing any fragrance that is overpowering. You might think you smell nice, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.
  • Definitely do not drink before hand, even if it’s just one to calm your nerves. Your interviewer could smell the alcohol from you. To keep a clear head it’s better not to drink the night before either.
  • Smokers should try and resist a quick cigarette on the way to the interview or while waiting to go in. Try to wait until you’re finished. For non-smokers they might find the smell over-powering. Even if you don’t think you smell of cigarettes, someone who is not used to the smell will pick up on it.

What to take with you:

  • Interview invitation letter.
  • CV and covering letter and/or application form.
  • Any points you want to make about your suitability for the role.
  • Any questions you want to ask.
  • Cash in case you need to grab a taxi at the last minute.

On the Big Day:

  • Eat properly and drink plenty of water. This will help you stay focused.
  • Arrive early, preferably at least 10 minutes early. This gives you enough time to check yourself in the mirror (no spinach in your teeth!), turn off your phone and mentally prepare. If for some reason you’re delayed then call ahead to let them know and apologise.
  • First impressions are important. Time to remember your manners and a smile!
  • Try to remember the name of the person who you are here to see. You’ll need to tell the receptionist who you are, what time your appointment is at and who with. And remember, receptionists talk to the rest of the organisation too!
  • Switch off your mobile phone. Nothing worse than that seriously awkward moment when your phone goes off in the middle of an interview. And whatever you do, don’t answer it!

During the Interview:

  • When you meet your interviewer(s) shake hands with them. Do the same when you leave.
  • Try to keep relaxed throughout the interview with a friendly expression. Don’t relax too much and slump in your chair!
  • If there is more than one person interviewing you, maintain good eye contact with the person who asked the question. Occasionally look at the rest on the panel too.
  • Listen carefully to each question.
  • If you’re not sure what’s being asked of you, then ask for the question to be repeated.
  • Avoid just giving one word answers. Expand and support your answer with examples.
  • Try to answer every question as best you can, even if you think you’ve already been asked it before. If you’re not sure how to answer it, ask if you can come back to it at the end of the interview.
  • Speak clearly and make sure that you’re talking loudly enough for the interviewer(s) to hear you. Avoid speaking too quickly, let them hear what you’re saying.
  • Stay calm! They’re not trying to trip you up, they just want to make sure they pick the right person for the job by seeing how you react and answer different questions/in certain situations.
  • You might find that interviewer(s) take notes while you give your answers. This is just so that they can remind themselves of the points you make. Try not to let this put you off.
  • If you find you like to fidget or wave your arms about when you’re nervous in interviews, it’s worthwhile trying to find a technique that will help you to manage your movements. Otherwise it might divert the interviewer(s) attention away from your performance.
  • At the end you will likely be given the chance to ask some questions. Use this to your advantage; show that you’re interested by asking questions. You should have these pre-prepared so you’re ready to ask away! You really only need around three, but you could have more ready just in case the answer to one of your questions is answered in the interview.

Now go get your dream job!


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