YOU'VE got the qualifications, you've done well at college, and you're pretty sure you can make a success of a career in hospitality. Yet when you make it on to the shortlist for an interview you start to panic.
What should you say? How should you act? What should you wear? For many young people interviews are daunting. But there are plenty of things you can do to make the whole event a success.
Recruitment experts point out that employers make up their minds about candidates within the first few minutes of a meeting, so initial impressions are crucial. That means how you look, how you sound and how you respond to questions.
Practice and preparation are sure to help. Before the interview make sure you understand what the job is all about and that you have researched the company. Think about the questions the interviewer is likely to ask. Can you say:
lÊwhy you want this job?
lÊwhy you want to work for them?
lÊwhat your biggest weakness is?
lÊwhat your career ambitions are?
Try to anticipate the questions, and think carefully about your answers. Make sure you will never have to say "I don't know".
The interviewer will already know a lot about your background and qualifications. For many jobs he will be satisfied that you have the basic skills; now he will be trying hard to find out if you are the kind of person who will fit into the organisation. Employers in the hospitality industry all say they are looking for someone with the right attitude. They are looking for pro-active, vibrant, sociable people, and if you are eager to learn they will train you.
On the day itself, be punctual - turning up late for an interview implies you might be late for the job, so don't take any chances. Image matters, and looking smart will show you are serious about the job and understand the business. Don't listen to people who advise merely being yourself.
You are very unlikely to get a job just because you dress well, but plenty of first-round candidates are ruled out because they are dressed inappropriately.
Think carefully about what you wear. Expensive outfits aren't necessary, but a professional-looking dress or suit will make the best impression. Avoid jeans, trainers and anything too trendy. Body language, too, will play a big part in the impression you give.
Try getting a friend to talk to you in a mock interview setting, or study yourself in a mirror. Do you stroke your chin, pull at your ear, pull at your hair or even bite your nails when you are unsure of a situation? In an interview any of these could be taken as a sign of indecision or insecurity.
Even an inexperienced interviewer will be influenced by your body language. Some important things to rehearse are:
lÊdo you smile as you are being introduced? A natural-looking smile is particularly important in the hospitality industry;
lÊdo you have a confident manner?
lÊare you in control of your briefcase, coat and notes? Can you shake hands without having to juggle them around?
lÊcan you remember the interviewer's name and say it with confidence? n