5. Get organised

One of the biggest turn-offs for interviewers is disorganised candidates. Things like bulging pockets and bunches of untidy loose paper are unsightly, while forgetting to bring a pen can seem inefficient, and won’t help with remembering important points and questions. One employer we know asks candidates to bring a pencil to interview. No pencil, no job.

What to take with you

The day before your interview, lay all this out, and sort out any bag or folder you may need, to avoid anything being forgotten, or any last minute dramas:

  • The advert or job details you’ve been sent, with the location and interviewer’s name prominent
  • Copy of your CV or completed application form (if you didn’t keep a copy, go to the bottom of the class)
  • Writing paper and something to lean on. On the top sheet, write down at least one question you want to ask them so you don’t forget it
  • Two pens
  • A clean hanky or tissue – not toilet paper – discretely hidden somewhere on your person
  • A mobile phone for emergencies with the organisation’s contact number programmed in
  • Any materials for a presentation if you have been asked to give one
  • Reading or other glasses if you need them (this is not the time to be vain).

One thing that is invaluable is a zip-edged portfolio. You can pick up very reasonable zipped folders for as little as £6.99 in Tesco, and sometimes you will also find them in second-hand shops. A portfolio can act as an impromptu table top if there isn’t one in front of you in the interview room, and it will hold hand outs, note paper, pens and train tickets.

Don’t waste energy and nerves on the journey

Think about your travel at least 24 hours before you travel. Especially in winter, when we are prone to motorway, tube and rail closures for whole days, consider travelling several hours ahead of time. If it’s in another town, consider staying over the night before, even if that means begging a bed at a friend’s house to halve the journey in the morning.

Use streetmap.co.uk and the post code to get an exact map of where you’re going, especially if the address is on a long street. Programme the reception desk/contact number of the employer into your mobile phone in case of disaster.

Always, always have a Plan B for travel.

On the day

Switch off your mobile phone or put it on silent as you arrive at the venue. Before that, remember that the interviewer may be trying to reach you if they are running late.

Be nice to the receptionist/secretary.

Ask to use the ladies’ as soon as you get there to check appearance and make yourself comfortable.

Take off your coat before you go into the room and put it over your arm.

Note the door you come into the interview room by, so you know which door to go out if there’s more than one door.

If there is no coat hook, lay your coat over the back of your chair.