What to Wear to a Job Interview

Job interviews are all about making a good first impression, and nothing makes or breaks a first impression like how you're dressed. When a potential employer invites you to an interview, you should immediately start thinking about what to wear - what is the right outfit for this interview?

To some extent, of course, the answer to that question will depend on what sort of job you're interviewing for, but it's always important to look neat and professional. Even if you're hoping to land a role at a trendy tech start-up where all the employees wear T-shirts and jeans, it pays to look smart for the interview.

With that in mind, here - courtesy of the team here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions - are some top tips to help you get dressed for that career-making job interview:

  • First of all, be prepared. Don't wait until the day of the interview to select your outfit (especially if you're indecisive - showing up late won't look good regardless of what you're wearing!). Pick your clothes a few days in advance, and get them out of wardrobe to check that they're clean and crease-free. Leave yourself plenty of time to do laundry and ironing, just in case.

  • Don't dress too outrageously. Novelty ties, plunging necklines, garishly bright colours...a good interview outfit avoids all of these things. You want the interviewer to remember you for your articulate and intelligent answers, not for your red polka-dot shirt or your skimpy dress.

  • Be moderate with make-up, jewellery and scents. A drop of cologne or a touch of make-up? No problem. But you're not going on a date or hitting the clubs - you're applying for a job, so there's no need to do yourself up too extravagantly.

  • You're not there to show off your fashion sense. By all means wear nice, modern-looking clothes - you don't want to look like you've stepped through a portal from the 1970s. But unless you're interviewing for a post at some glossy magazine, your clothes shouldn't be trying to persuade the interviewer of your smashing fashion sense. Make a good impression by looking tidy and together, not by dressing for the catwalk.

  • Check your hair. Like clothing, hair can have a very powerful impact on what people think when they meet you for the first time. Your hairdo should be as neat and tidy as your outfit, so spend a little time sorting it out before you set off for the interview (and don't be afraid to go for a trim if you need it).

  • It's better to be overdressed than underdressed. It's an enormously clich├ęd piece of advice to offer, but 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have' is a good saying to bear in mind when pondering what to wear to a job interview. Most employers will expect interviewees to look reasonably smart even if they allow their employees to dress casually, and if in doubt, it's always safer to dress formally. In the vast majority of cases, business attire will make a far better impression than the clothes you wear around the house.

If you need more interview preparation tips, be sure to visit our Interview Advice page!

Still looking for your dream job? Browse the latest science and technology vacancies here.

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Applying for a job in science or technology? Here's our advice for crafting the perfect CV

Writing a CV

Everybody talks about how important it is to make a good first impression when you attend a job interview, but in most cases, it's actually your CV that's responsible for making a good first impression on potential employers. Sure, you should wear smart clothes and speak clearly when you're being interviewed, but if your CV isn't up to snuff, you won't even make it to the interview stage in the first place.

If you've been applying for science jobs for a while without hearing anything back, it might be time to go back to the drawing board and rethink your CV. If you want yours to stand out from the stack of documents every employer receives when they advertise a new vacancy, here's what you need to do:

The Basics

Be sure to include the following essential details:

  • Your full name
  • Your current address
  • Your telephone number(s)
  • Your email address (make sure it's something professional - don't use your Hotmail address from when you were a teenager!)

If you have a clean driving licence and access to a vehicle, include this information as well. It may give you the edge over applicants who do not have their own means of transportation.

You will also need to state if your current employer requires you to serve a notice period before changing jobs.

Areas of Expertise

Once you've included your personal / contact details, add a brief section entitled 'Areas of Expertise'. This should simply comprise a short bullet-point list (5 or 6 items max.) of the key skills that make you a great candidate. For example:

  • Data analysis
  • Team management
  • Report writing

This makes it easy for the employer to see your potential value right off the bat.

Education & Work Experience

This part forms the meat of any CV. List your experiences in date order, starting with your most recent role(s). Here's a rough example of what this should look like:

GRADUATE DATA ANALYST

JULY 2015 - PRESENT

Description of this role and what it required of you. If this experience was especially relevant to the job(s) you're now applying for, you may wish to include a bullet-point list of the duties involved.

BSc MATHEMATICS (UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM)

SEPTEMBER 2012 - JULY 2015

Description of your course and the relevant skills you learned / knowledge you gained.

And so on. Try to focus on things that are relevant to science/technology, particularly the field you're looking to enter.

Previous STEM jobs should take precedence, but if you don't have any particularly relevant work experience yet, put the emphasis on your scientific education. In any case, be sure to emphasise responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate your competence and versatility.

It's worth including non-scientific education and work experience, but this shouldn't take up too much space if it's not relevant. Some people simply refer to 'various part-time jobs' or 'assorted temporary roles', but before you take this approach, think carefully - some roles may have taught you relevant skills even if they themselves were nothing to do with science or technology.

Interests

It's important to include some information about what you get up to in your free time, but remember, the employer isn't interested in your life story. You don't want to come across as a work-obsessed robot, but ideally, your hobbies and interests will complement the professional self-portrait you've been painting elsewhere in the document. For instance:

"In my spare time, I enjoy reading and catching up with the latest science/technology news. I subscribe to a number of publications, including New Scientist and Wired, and I also spend a lot of time on the Internet reading about topics that interest me. I also enjoy outdoor activities, including hiking and rock climbing."

References

It's usually fine to save space by writing 'References available on request' at the end of your CV. However, check the details of each job you apply for - some may specifically state that references are required, in which case you'll need to include them in the document you send.

General Advice

  • Be concise - don't waffle. Employers generally don't have time to read essays from potential new recruits.

  • Make absolutely sure to double-check your CV before sending it to anyone. Nothing takes the shine off a well-written CV like a spelling mistake or grammatical error!

  • Don't be afraid to tweak your CV each time you send it. Sometimes it pays to tailor it to the job you're applying for (even if you're also sending a covering letter).

Visit our CV Advice page for more useful tips!

Ready to start applying for jobs? Click here to browse the latest scientific vacancies.

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Graduating from university is a great feeling, but tossing your mortarboard in the air is also the precursor to one of the biggest and scariest steps you'll ever have to take: the step away from student life and into the world of work.

Searching for your first full-time job can be a gruelling and demoralising task. If you've just left university, you probably don't have a whole lot of relevant work experience just yet, and as a result you may feel that you're at a significant disadvantage as you struggle to get a foot on that all-important first rung of the career ladder. But rest assured that there are many employers out there who are desperate to recruit talented graduates like yourself - you just have to make sure they know about you!

With that in mind, here - courtesy of science job specialists Hyper Recruitment Solutions - are 5 top tips for graduates who are looking for jobs:

1) Before you apply for anything, Google yourself.

No matter what sort of role you're looking to land, you can bet that the person who receives your job application will pop your name into a search engine before deciding whether or not to offer you an interview. This is the 21st century, and these days, potential employers will often scrutinise your online presence just as much as your CV. So make sure you're not showing them anything you don't want them to see!

Before you begin your job search, you should:

  • Type your name into Google to see what comes up on the first page of results. (If you have a common name, or if you share your name with somebody famous, you may want to try including your location in the search - e.g. 'daniel radcliffe sunderland' - to find pages that are specifically about you.) Is there anything in there that might damage a potential employer's opinion of you? A Twitter account, a news story, something you wrote years ago that you're not particularly proud of? It may not be possible to erase every piece of information about yourself, but if you're able to eliminate any red flags then you absolutely should.

  • You should also use Facebook's 'View As...' feature to find out how much of your profile is visible to the public. If necessary, adjust your privacy settings so that only your friends can view the things you post. You don't want your future boss to see those drunk photos of you from your graduation party, do you?

2) Make your CV shine.

Composing an impressive CV can be tough when you're fresh out of uni, especially if you haven't previously held a role that's similar to the one you're applying for. But don't assume that the experience you do have is worthless - just because you've never worked in an office before doesn't mean that you've never exercised the skills needed to succeed in that environment.

The key is to think outside the box a little bit. Let's say you're applying for a marketing job at an FMCG company - sure, you've never occupied a marketing post before, but you completed a degree, and perhaps you even worked a part-time job or two while you were studying. These and other experiences will have equipped you with:

  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • The ability to approach tasks creatively
  • Strong communication skills
  • The ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure
  • An understanding of how to behave when dealing with customers/clients
All of these things are highly valued by employers in all sorts of different sectors, so don't be reluctant to include them on your curriculum vitae. Don't think in terms of experience - think in terms of skills!

3) Cast your net wide.

Different employers advertise their vacancies in all sorts of different places, so don't limit yourself to a single website or job listings board. By all means sign up with big names like Monster and Indeed, but bear in mind that there are lots of specialist recruiters out there too - recruiters like Aspire for the digital / media sector and HRS for science jobs. Some organisations, having a limited budget for this sort of thing, will exclusively recruit via these more specialised portals, so don't kid yourself that you'll see every available vacancy just because you check Reed every day.

4) Don't go back into higher education without a good reason.

Postgraduate courses are great, and in some cases, you'll need a master's or a PhD to get the career you really want. However, far too many graduates sleepwalk into postgraduate programmes simply because they don't feel ready to compete for full-time employment.

That's usually a bad decision. Higher education is expensive, as you're no doubt already aware, and while you might tell yourself that a more advanced qualification will lead to better career prospects, the evidence on that front is somewhat ambiguous.

Yes, entering the world of work can feel like jumping into an abyss, but you shouldn't go back to university just because you're cosily familiar with academic life and scared of sampling the alternative. If you have a clear goal in mind (e.g. 'I need additional qualification X in order to be considered for job Y') then by all means go for it, but otherwise, you're probably better off taking the leap into full-time employment.

5) Remember - you're not committing to a career for life. 

When searching for jobs to apply for, try to bear in mind that your first post-university job doesn't necessarily have to lead to the career of your dreams. Many people don't even decide on a career until quite a bit later in life, so don't feel pressured to apply exclusively for jobs that are directly linked to whatever you think you'd like to be doing in ten or twenty years' time. You might only stay in this first job for a year or two - and that's okay, because it will still give you a lot of extra experience and a lot of new things to add to that CV of yours.

So those are our top 5 tips for gradaute jobseekers, and we hope they'll come in handy! Of course, there's no secret formula or trick for landing any job you apply for, but it's important to stay positive and keep striving for success even if you suffer a setback or two. Just because your first few applications didn't lead anywhere doesn't mean that you should give up - keep going, and you'll be starting your new job before you know it!

Searching for jobs in the science/technology sector? Click here to create a candidate account and browse the latest vacancies from Hyper Recruitment Solutions!

Have you considered a career in recruitment?

Here at HRS, we are looking for talented individuals who want to make a difference to the science and technology sectors through recruitment. We have a number of positions available for trainee Recruitment Consultants / Graduate Sales Executives to join our growing sales teams.

The recruitment industry is one of the most rewarding and desirable sectors to work in. If you have an outgoing personality, are good with people, and happy to work hard to succeed in life, then you are perfect for a job in recruitment. We will train you to the highest possible standards and develop your skills and knowledge of the recruitment industry. If you have a passion and enthusiasm for doing the job right, this position offers great rewards.

Apply now >

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Telephone Interview

So you've just heard back from that job you applied for, and it's good news: they were impressed with your CV, and you've made it through to the interview stage. However, this won't be a traditional, face-to-face job interview - as it turns out, this particular employer prefers to do things over the phone.

You might be pleased to hear this at first. On paper, a telephone interview sounds quite a bit easier than the alternative: no need to get a haircut, no need to iron your interview suit, no need to worry about how you're going to get there on time. All you have to do is pick up the phone and have a conversation. Simple, right?

But being interviewed over the phone rather than meeting your potential employer in the flesh does have its disadvantages. For example...

  • The employer won't be able to connect with you in quite the same way as if you were right there in front of them. Facial expressions and body language are important when you're trying to get someone to warm to you, but you can't rely on them during a phone interview - instead, you're forced to present yourself well and get your points across using speech alone.

  • Similarly, you won't be able to use the interviewer's physical cues to assess how well (or not) the interview is going. It can be difficult to give a relaxed and confident performance when you don't know whether the person you're talking to is smiling or frowning.

  • Telephone interviews tend to be shorter and less in-depth than traditional job interviews, which leaves you with a significantly smaller window of opportunity. Less time means fewer chances to talk yourself up and persuade the interviewer of your suitability for the role.

  • While it can be nice to conduct a job interview from the comfort of your own living room, the home environment can be distracting and detrimental to the professional image you're trying to project. Many a remote interview has been interrupted by a child or pet wandering into the room at an inopportune moment, and even if you're home alone, there's still a chance that the doorbell will ring, or that you'll get sidetracked by one of the many other things vying for your attention.

By now, you should be beginning to realise that telephone interviews aren't necessarily the walk in the park that they may resemble at first glance. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, and we haven't even mentioned the fact that some people genuinely struggle to talk on the phone (even if they're perfectly outgoing and eloquent in person).

But don't despair - you can still ace your phone interview and land the job of your dreams without a hitch. To help you do so, here are five top telephone interview tips from the experts here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions:

1. Choose the right space.

Our phones go everywhere we go nowadays, which means that it's possible to take calls in the park, the car, the supermarket, and just about anywhere else you fancy. However, if at all possible, you should avoid conducting a job interview while on the go; instead, find a quiet, secluded room where you can be fairly certain you won't be interrupted. Try to choose somewhere with as few distractions and diversions as possible.

2. Focus on the task at hand.

Ideally, you shouldn't be doing anything else while you're being interviewed. You wouldn't doodle or surf the web or watch TV during a face-to-face job interview, so you should absolutely avoid those activities when on the phone. And don't eat anything during the call - it's impolite, and the person on the other end might have a hard time understanding you with your mouth full.

3. Make notes beforehand.

It never hurts to prepare. Keep your CV handy throughout the call (along with your cover letter, the company's details, and anything else that might prove useful) so that you can quickly refer to key information as necessary. Before the interview, you may also wish to draft answers to common questions so that you won't 'um' and 'ah' too much when you're in the hot seat. If you don't think it will be too much of a distraction, it might even be worth keeping a pen and some paper handy during the call itself so that you can make notes on the fly.

4. Don't speak too quickly.

During any sort of interview, it's easy to let your nerves get the better of you and speak too quickly to be understood. Before responding to each question, take a breath and remind yourself to answer slowly, steadily, and clearly. You'll come off a lot better for it, and the interviewer won't have to ask you to repeat yourself.

5. Be concise.

Just as it's important to try not to talk too fast, it's also important not to talk too much. Waffling on needlessly won't endear you to your potential employer - it's never fun to sit through a long, rambling answer, and it's even worse when you're on the phone and the physical cues we discussed earlier aren't present to make the monologue more engaging. If you really want to impress, answer each question in as few words as possible (while still making your point clear each time).

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