Are you getting ready for your first engineering interview ever or are you someone who has plenty of experience with interviews? It’s inevitable that after an interview you ask yourself or get asked, ‘how did it go?’ and you usually think you did your best and it went quite well? More often than not, we tend to drag ourselves down and think about all of the things we could have done differently. If you could go back in time and change something you said or the way you did something, would you?
We can’t go back in time and change something that has already happened, but we can look back on our experiences, learn from them and try again next time. Because there will always be another opportunity, so if you didn’t succeed, here are some potential reasons why and how you can reflect on these small ‘mistakes’ to ensure we don’t make them again.
Wearing the wrong thing
The way you dress for an interview can often be one of the things candidates worry about the most, so try and think about it before the morning of the interview. Especially if it’s a morning interview, preparing this beforehand can relieve a lot of stress and help you keep to your schedule.
The attire for an interview really does depend on the type of job you are applying for. I think it should reflect you and how you will dress on a day-to-day in that role. (Unless you need protective gear or high-vis) Just use your common sense and go with something professional as well as comfortable. The last thing you need is to feel uncomfortable emotionally and physically.
Don’t be afraid to take spare shoes. If you have to go through a lengthy commute or use transport like London underground, you want to wear something comfy. Take spare shoes with you, no one is going to be offended with you swapping your shoes. If it worries you, change them before you enter the building. Again, comfort is everything.
Your body language
When you’re nervous, your body language can really shine through, especially when you’re not actively thinking about it. It can be very obvious to employers if you are nervous, simply with the way you walk, stand, or sit during the conversation.
It can be hard but try to not let nerves get the better of you. Be aware of the way you are sitting in reception and be aware of the interviewer’s body language as well. Simple things you can actively try to do are sit up straight, keep your arms un-crossed and smile. (Not constantly)
Ensure that you are keeping eye contact when they are talking, you don’t want it to seem like your mind is somewhere else. When you’re new to having interviews, it can be hard to keep your emotions separate from the way you act, but you’ll get the hang of it. Maybe you won’t even feel nerves as strongly after a while.
Being too early or late
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as being too early to an interview. If you find yourself in this situation, try taking a walk around where the interview is or stopping to get some lunch beforehand. There is no need to sit in a reception area longer than you have to, it can build up nerves and doesn’t look good.
The employer probably has a day filled with other interviews or different work commitments. They give you a time, to ensure that they can work around your interview slot and if they are with another candidate, you will be sitting there for a long time. Additionally, receptionists will usually call / contact the interviewer to let them know you are there, risking interrupting them from something that may be important.
Being late is probably an obvious one. If you have ‘good time-management’ written on your CV, you want to live up to their expectations. Keep a schedule, get ready on time and try to get there on time. Sometimes, there are things out of our control that may cause you to be late, so make sure you are calling ahead and letting the interviewer know your situation. Although it can feel awkward, the employer will appreciate it.
Not bringing the right things
If you are applying for a role that requires a portfolio or the interviewer asks you to bring other documents with you, it’s very important that you remember and bring everything you may need. Interviews are there for the interviewer to get to know you and a time where you should be showing off your skills and experience. If you are asked to bring a portfolio, make sure you have a physical one, or you send over the link to your online one in advance. This way, if they would like you to bring your own laptop to showcase your work, you know in advance.
It can be a good idea to bring a notebook as well. It can be easy to get side-tracked in an interview and forget questions that you may think of in the moment. Writing notes, isn’t frowned upon and if this works for you, remember to bring one! (and a pen)
On the morning of an interview, there can be a lot of thoughts running through your mind, so keep prepared and ensure that you get everything you need ready and in one place before that day. This way, you can just pick it up on your way out and be confident you have everything.
Talking too much
You are not alone in this one. I have been to many an interview where I was nervous and almost forgot what I was saying, therefore, leading to a nervous rambling. Nerves have the ability to take control of a situation, try not to let them. When asked a question, think back to your preparation and notes (if you have them) to ensure you answer the question they asked and don’t move too far from that topic. You can let the natural flow of conversation take its course and ask questions if they are relevant, but the idea is to stick to the point.
The interviewer may have a level of understanding when it comes to nerves but try not to let it get the best of you. See if you can try talking a bit slower, allowing natural pauses in conversation to happen and using hand gestures. Being able to read the body language and any verbal prompts from the interviewer is also really handy.
Some of these interview mistakes might seem pretty obvious as things you shouldn’t do – but it’s easy to do them without being aware that you’re doing them. Sometimes, you only notice what you did, when looking back at the interview.
It’s not easy to be completely aware of everything you’re doing in a nervous situation. But, if you can prepare as much as possible, dress appropriately and try not to ramble. As easy as it sounds, you’ll be surprised what nerves can do. If you do feel yourself doing any of these things, take a breath, and start again.