How can I put my best foot forward at interview?

I'm a young professional who doesn't have a wealth of employment experience. How can I put my best foot forward at interview to move up the career ladder?

"Ask a recruiter" article written for IOSH Magazine by Irwin & Colton Director, James Irwin.

Taking the second step up the career ladder can be tricky. In your first health and safety role it would have been clear to the interviewer that you had little or no experience. The role responsibilities, expectations and salary would likely have reflected this. Moving on from here in your career, the role responsibilities increase as does the salary, expectations of a candidate’s experience and competition for the roles.

There is no magic bullet that will ensure you will be successful at interview. However, there are a number of small steps which if all lined up ensure at the very least you give yourself a platform to put your best foot forward. Below I have outlined those I believe are the most critical for this step.

Timing and presentation. These might sound like the most basic of interview tips. However, it is amazing how many good candidates don’t get either of these two points right. The train will break down on the way to an interview, it is a fact of life! I always advise candidates to get to the building 30 minutes before. Equally important: don’t arrive too early. This can be just as bad as turning up late. Going into reception 10 minutes prior to your interview is perfect.

We are in 2020 and it is no long essential to wear a business suit to every interview. Even so, for most interviews it still is. Always err on the side of formality and you can’t go too far wrong – if in doubt your recruiter should be able to give you some pointers into this.   

Next is research. You can never do too much research into an organisation prior to interview. Although it is very unlikely you will use a majority of the information in the interview the points you do get across will be gold dust. A great tip is to check the news feed of the company – if there is a major press release this will be the main talking point internally. If you can find a health and safety angle on which relates to this and your background, even better.   

Finally, make sure you have clear, concise examples prepared from your background which relate to the role. Again, it sounds simple, however, I find most good candidates don’t get roles because they fail to do this at interview. Use facts and figures to back up examples you give and wherever possible talk about achievements. How many sites were you responsible for? How many employees on each site? What was the percentage reduction in lost-time injuries? The role specification will give you a very good steer of what examples to talk about.

You can never do too much research into an organisation prior to interview.

If you get the points above right you will be in a good position to nail the interview and secure your next role. Finally, I would also say look for some way you can go the extra mile. I had a candidate who visited three stores of a major high street retailer prior to an interview as a health and safety adviser. Technically, the person wasn’t the best fit yet the client really liked the fact they had gone over and above what was required. They were offered the role and five years later they are still with the company.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Monday Jan 13