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Reach for the Skype: tackling a job interview on webcam

In the past few weeks, at least two of my jobhunting friends have had interviews on Skype, from the comfort of their own homes. 

The Internet made video conferences and web chats possible across all geographical and time zones at the click of a button, so why not hire people that way too? An interview on Skype saves travel time and cost, and it fits in nicely with the Internet-centric, borderless world we live in.

But are there pitfalls we should be aware of?

Anita Isalska, who has just started a new career as a freelance writer/editor, guest blogs below about her recent experience of a Skype interview and shares some tips. 

Excited as I am about my decision to go freelance, I recently saw an advert for a full-time job I couldn’t ignore. An exciting company, a sterling copywriter role, and way out of my league. Applying for the role felt as wistful and hopeless as faxing a love letter to Angelina Jolie, so I was delighted to be offered an interview a couple of weeks ago.

My surprise was matched by dismay when I learned the interview would be conducted on Skype.

Job interviews by Skype, where a face-to-face meeting is replaced by a webcam beaming into your bedroom, are becoming more common in an increasingly global culture. In my case, the company was overseas, looking to start a new UK office and recruit local staff in advance, but many aspirational jobseekers are also looking for their dream jobs in sunnier (or perhaps snowier) climes.

The jobseeker and interviewer could be thousands of miles apart, but Skype trumps an impersonal phone interview by allowing the candidate to demonstrate their personability and professionalism over the webcam. I had never experienced an interview in this form before, but it made the world feel a little smaller: what’s to stop me from looking beyond London’s grey skyline for jobs in Paris, New York, Melbourne?

Dream destinations aside, if Skype interviews become common practice, jobseekers looking for employment further than their hometown (as the government recommends) won’t have to choose between train tickets they can barely afford, and a potential telling-off at the Job Centre if they try to claim transport allowance.

But even the most seasoned interviewee faces new challenges when interviewing by Skype, as you’re not only showcasing yourself and your skills. Assuming you’re interviewing from your home computer (as I did), you’re also putting your interview success at the mercy of your internet connection, as well as giving the interviewer a window into your interior decoration tastes. For me, preparing for a Skype interview was much more than dusting down the sofa and replacing my horror movie collection with a shelf of Tolstoy.

Here’s how I avoided the pitfalls of the remote interview.

1. Warn your family and flatmates.

Simply mentioning that I had an interview was not enough: I pinned a notice on my door, nagged my housemates to tiptoe, and begged them not to imperil the internet connection by downloading Family Guy during my interview hour. A Skype interview can be interrupted by anything from the loud thrum of a washing machine to a well-meaning housemate looking for his shoes. Temporary internet glitches, or your hubby in his bathrobe accidentally wandering within view, may not be fatal to the interview but it will leave you flustered and ensure you’re remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Spare yourself the palpitations by giving your loved ones plenty of warning.

2. Dress as if you’re attending in person.

An interview by Skype is not an excuse to wear your slippers. Granted, the interviewer will only see the view you’ve chosen for your webcam, usually just your face and shoulders. But my posture radiated confidence when I discarded my jeans and smartened up.

3. Groom as if you’re going to a photoshoot.

Webcams have a diabolical way of turning healthy glowing skin into distracting shine (and for the gents, a five o’clock shadow into a grubby-looking beard). Don’t just check the mirror, check how you look on the webcam. If neutralising those shadows or toning down the shine mean extra make-up, a different hairstyle, or adjusting the lights, don’t hesitate: because you’re worth it.

Experiment with the lighting in your room too: I found the window behind me created glare, and the position of the lamp gave me an unwanted halo. A desk lamp pointing towards my face produced a much better result, making me appear brighter (and whitewashing my many imperfections, as an added bonus).

4. Tidy the entire room.

Don’t just clear the area behind you — if the interviewer asks you to adjust the webcam because of the lighting, you don’t want to be fretting that the pile of pizza boxes you swept away has now come into view.

Be aware that aspects of your personality are on display, which could make your job application somewhat ironic. “Would you say you work well with people?” they might ask, spotting your collection of Jack the Ripper biographies. “I’d definitely describe myself as the sociable type,” you nod earnestly, as the framed photo of you dirty dancing with a man in a toga at a university party comes into view.

5. Be time-zone aware.

An early-morning interview with an Australian company may leave you struggling to stay awake, but the interviewer is in the middle of his or her working afternoon, and will expect you to be similarly alert. Wake up at least an hour before the interview, to shower, breakfast, and knock back a coffee. It will be painfully obvious if you’ve just crawled out of bed, so resist the urge to cut corners for an extra few minutes’ sleep. You may not be tempted by a pre-interview 5am scrub-down with Original Source Mint shower gel, the lathery equivalent of an electric shock, but it did give me a vigorous wake-up call.

6. Imagine you’re a newscaster.

My only experience with Skype before the interview was chatting to my boyfriend when one of us was out of the country. Most of these exchanges involved energetic waving, and hesitation over whether to look at the screen or the webcam lens. Have a practice run where you channel Natasha Kaplinsky: focus on the camera, to give the impression of eye contact, while glancing back to the screen quickly every few seconds to check how your interviewer is reacting.

A practice run is invaluable to get this balance right, as you’ll be tempted to fixate on your pores, that weird thing you do with your mouth, and the angles that make you look slimmer. Iron these out in your practice run so you can concentrate on the interviewer, not your appearance.

7. Take advantage of crib notes.

Unlike a face-to-face interview where shuffling through notes would be a disastrous faux pas, artfully taping a Post-it note to the edge of your monitor can be a saving grace for the Skype interviewee. If there’s a question that makes your memory go blank, jot a considered answer onto a Post-it. (I wanted to prepare for the dreaded “what are your biggest weaknesses” question, which luckily they didn’t ask.)

This can be particularly helpful if there’s something you need to phrase with care, such as a gap in employment, a very short time spent at your last job, or a dramatic career-change. A quick look at the Post-it will seem like a thoughtful sidelong glance to the interviewer, while allowing you a quick reminder of your rehearsed answer. But don’t crowd your screen with notes as constant, distracted sideward looks will give the game away.

So did it work for me? After a tense couple of weeks of silence (during which I assumed I had failed and tried to erase the memories), I have now been called for another interview, this time in person. Mood lighting and Post-it notes won’t save me this time, but at least I won’t have to worry about men in pyjamas making a cameo appearance.

Anita Isalska is a freelancer who edits and writes on food and speciality diets, travel, finance and corporate law. She also writes a travel blog at http://wanderingfordistraction.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lunarsynthesis.

Have you also experienced a Skype interview? What worked for you and what didn’t? Add your own anecdote or tip in the comments below.

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One too many interviews got me in trouble with the JobCentre

Yes, really.

Yesterday I was admonished at the JobCentre for travelling to too many job interviews, then snubbed and bullied for daring to claim for another rail warrant to attend an interview next week.

Travel to Interview…no more
I have blogged before about Travel for Interview Scheme (TIS). If you need to travel to a job interview outside your local area, you may be entitled to TIS – if your local JobCentre approves your claim, they will issue you a rail warrant, which can be exchanged for a train ticket on the day of the travel.

This helpful scheme is one of only two reasons (the other one being NI credits) I decided to stay signed on at the JobCentre, as I am not entitled to a single penny in Jobseeker’s Allowance this year for not having paid NI contributions in 2008 and 2009 (I was studying in 2008, unemployed in 2009).

It is the only incentive I have to keep filling in “the six actions I have done to find work” in the JobCentre’s “dole book” and present them to the JobCentre every fortnight.

Well, the bad news is that the scheme has now closed. I only found out because as I called the JobCentre to tell them I had another interview in London (I live on the south coast) next week, instead of the usual invite for an appointment to get TIS, I was summoned in for a “meeting with a personal adviser”.

It didn’t sound good.

So I googled “Travel for Interview” in advance and found out, purely by accident, that the scheme is no longer available. That is according to the DirectGov website, but, in reality, it seems as if, despite tighter controls, each branch is still handing it out at their own discretion.

Investigated
The appointment with the personal adviser turned out to be an inquiry into why I had been to interviews five times outside my local area and still had not landed a job. Was I going for the right type of jobs? Was I preparing myself appropriately before interviews? Had I requested feedback after each job rejection? Could I not find jobs more locally?

I had indeed claimed for TIS five times in the past few months, including two for second interviews, and all of them for publishing jobs. I happen to have more than 15 years of publishing sales experience; and my last job was in publishing… To me it is the fastest and most obvious route back into the job market. But not to the JobCentre.

“Money is tight,” the personal adviser said. I was not to assume I could automatically claim TIS, was I clear, and they would not be able to issue any more warrants for jobs in publishing, as it seemed I was not getting anywhere in that field. Instead, I should go for more general jobs, such as PA, which I could find more easily in the local area.

She then deleted “journalism” from the list of areas “where I am looking for work” to include “PA”. I now have:

  1. publishing
  2. PA/secretary
  3. event organiser

under the “type of jobs I am looking for”. Curiously, searches on the JobCentre site under those codes still produce jobs in “store cleaning” ,”nursery assistants” and “charity fundraising”…

Once the personal adviser was satisfied that I had not been trying to abuse the system but was genuinely trying to find a job, she printed my new “Jobseekers Agreement”, which I had to sign to show my commitment towards finding work. I was then sent to the floor below to see the adviser who deals with Travel for Interview warrants.

Bullied
The TIS lady received me with the warmth of someone about to interview a mass murderer. Scowling, she spat her words to drive home the fact that she was less than pleased I was travelling out of town for yet another interview.

She reminded me once more I would not be paid any more TIS for jobs in publishing, that any further claims for TIS would be considered on a case-by-case basis.  The conversation that ensued left me speechless and later drove me to tears:

“Where is the interview in London?”

“The nearest station is Sloane Square.”

“Sloane Square?! We can only pay until Victoria. You’ll have to make your own way from there. Sloane Square is not far fromVictoria.”

“….”

“The 12.05 train will get you there at 13.28. That’s an hour before the interview, so plenty of time….”

It suddenly dawned on me this was my punishment for daring to ask for a Travel for Interview warrant. She was suggesting I get there an hour early so that I had time to walk from Victoria to Chelsea. With trainers on, it might take me half an hour. Wearing an interview suit and heels, and if it rains, it could take from 45min up to an hour and my feet are likely to blister and bleed (Update for those who thought I was exaggerating: I have huge, problematic bunions on both feet).

I looked at her eyes and recognised the same crazed hatred I used to see in the bullies at school: those who spat at me for being the only Oriental kid in class, cut my notebooks in half with a knife and scribbled unrepeatable swearwords on my seat.

In shock and humiliation, my mind drew a blank and I had trouble remembering my postcode and my home telephone number to fill in my TIS claim form…

I can understand rules are sometimes harsh but need to be followed. But bullying? Can there ever be any justification for unnecessary cruelty, especially towards the unemployed, who are skint, demoralised and most likely depressed? Isn’t the job of the JobCentre to give support to help jobseekers get back into work as soon as possible?

Wasting money
I noticed the TIS lady wrote down £24.90 on her copy of the document. This is because it costs £24.90 for a return ticket from my local station to London Victoria if you buy it on the day. This is because the JobCentre doesn’t, as a rule, allow you buy your own ticket and claim for reimbursement later.

The absurdity is that, if they did, I could have bought an advance ticket online, including London Underground Zones 1-6, for £13.30 on the Southern Railway website. This would have saved the JobCentre £11.60 and myself the unnecessary humiliation of being “dropped off” in Victoria and told to walk the rest of the way.

How much travel money is actually being wasted by the JobCentre this way, while they try to make savings by restricting the number of times anyone can have their travel to interview subsidised? How much more money wouldn’t they save from closed JSA claims, if active jobseekers were, instead, encouraged to attend as many interviews as they can get?

Thankfully my partner is in work and, although we live on an incredibly tight budget, I can just about buy a London underground travel card once I get to Victoria.

But someone virtually on the breadline may not have been able to afford the extortionate £6.60 that an off-peak day travel card costs for zones 1-2. Depending on the time of travel, you can pay up to £15.00 for a London underground travel card for zones 1-6. That sum could exceed the cost of a family dinner in some households. What if it is a choice between eating or paying for a train ticket to get to a job interview, which, if successful, would mean one fewer benefit claimant for the Department for Work and Pensions and the JobCentre to sustain?

None of this makes sense to me.

Not too many interviews
In 10 days’ time I must present myself at the JobCentre again to show the adviser “the six things I have done to actively find work”. Due to the JobCentre’s ambiguous attitude towards interviews, I now know those entries cannot be six job interviews, as subsidised travel clearly becomes an issue after five interviews, especially if potential employers in your field tend to be located out of town.

I will have to start turning down any interviews I get from anywhere beyond zone 1 or 2 in London, as that is the most I can afford out of my own pocket, in my seventh month of unemployment.

Now I am also obliged to spend a few hours a week applying for secretarial jobs I come across, even though my experience as a PA is so outdated I am highly unlikely to be shortlisted for interview. Although time spent applying for such jobs will take away from time I could spend applying for jobs I am far more likely to get (in publishing), that is what the JobCentre wants me to do.

Again, I question: how many unemployed people are having their jobseeking efforts hampered by their JobCentres by being artificially forced to apply for jobs that are not suited for them at all? And how much precious government money is going down the drain because of an inefficient system that penalises rather than support active jobseekers?

Failure and guilt
More bad news awaited me when I got home. A voice message from a recruitment consultant confirmed I had not got a job for which I had been interviewed twice already.  Four nights without sleep preparing a presentation for the final interview; 16hs of travel in total; hundreds of pounds in train fares. For nothing.

I feel as if I have failed myself, my recruitment consultant, my friends, my parents, my partner, and now also the JobCentre for having wasted two of their TIS warrants. This is not right.

Being rejected from a job hurts. But having to feel guilty for going to too many interviews, and being bullied by the JobCentre before travelling to one is not only preposterous; it is utterly inhumane and disgraceful.

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Have you had a similar experience and would like to share? Please leave a comment below or write to me privately if you do not mind being contacted for an interview for an newspaper piece. All names will be kept confidential upon request.

Related articles of interest:

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Five tips for a winning interview from the world’s top CEOs

Only recently I was delighted to have been shortlisted for second interview for an exciting senior role. I had been told I was one of two candidates selected for the final stage, so, while preparing for the big day, I kept asking myself what qualities I needed to show, which would make me stand out against the other candidate.

A day after the interview, I came across an article in the The Guardian, which I wish I had read before. It was a piece by Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of the New York Times and author of Corner Office: How Top CEOs Made it and How You Can Too (Harper Press, RRP £12.99).

Bryant’s book is a collection of interviews with more than 70 chief executives about how they do their jobs and the most important lessons they have learnt as they rose through the ranks. In the article, Bryant identifies five common, essential qualities that helped set these CEOs apart, and which they also looked for in people they hired.

Do you have what it takes to be a future leader?

Luckily for us jobseekers, all five attributes are skills or attitudes you can learn and acquire with, if you don’t already have them. If what you are looking for is not only a job but career progression, focussing on developing these leader characteristics could help you get ahead.

You can read the full Guardian article here, but I have tried, below, to apply the CEOs’ five big tips to an interview situation:

1) Passionate curiosity

Are you passionately curious? Do you ask big picture questions? Do you try to find out why things work the way they do and whether they can be improved? Are you interested in other people’s stories, in human nature?

Bryant says chief executives may exude confidence and authority at external-facing meetings but within their organisation their greatest contribution is their ability to ask the right questions so they can spot opportunities, understand people who work for them and how to get them to work effectively.

“CEOs are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they are the best students.” 

Perhaps you should prepare some questions to ask at the interview, which indicates a strong interest in the business of the company you want to work for, questions that will show the interviewer you have the “hunger” to succeed. How is business being done now? Where do they want to be in five years’ time and what do they feel they need in order to achieve that ambition?

2) Battle-hardened confidence

CEOs are looking for indications on how well you will perform by checking how you dealt with adversities, even failure, in the past. They will be testing your resilience and resourcefulness. Those who can best handle difficult situations tend to get recognised and promoted.

It is one of the most frequently asked interview questions, so make sure you have a good story up your sleeve, preferably from a professional situation, which will illustrate how you owned a challenge and overcame it with your positive attitude and perseverance. If you have only recently finished school and have limited work experience, a challenging personal situation can be used as an example instead.

3) Team smarts

This is not just about being a team player but the ability to form “ad hoc teams”, “recognise the players the team needs and how to bring them together around a common goal”.

Employers are looking for people who will be able to build and manage a team and get on with their peers. Are you the linchpin type, who can hold it all together, collaborate with different people, lead, mentor, motivate?

“People who truly succeed in business are the ones who […] have figured out how to mobilse people who are not their direct reports.”

This may not be so easy to prove, as it may be linked to your character and how you project yourself. But practising active listening during the interview, showing confidence without arrogance, even a good sense of humour can help make you look personable.

Your interviewer will be trying to find out if you get on with other people. They may even ask you questions such as “How would your colleagues describe you?” Have the answer in your head before the interview day. Don’t lie, of course, but try to stress qualities that highlight what a great colleague/team worker you are.

4) A simple mindset

Great advice here if you are asked to present a Power Point presentation at the interview (I was!).

One way of proving how clear your mind is is to produce a concise, uncluttered presentation, NOT a long one crammed with data showing off how much research you have done on a topic. You will not impress more by talking for longer than necessary either. Less is more, so keep it simple.

“Lose the ‘Power’ part of the presentation and simply get to the ‘Point'”, says Bryant.

A good leader-in-the-making has the ability to connect dots and find solutions “by asking simple, smart questions that lead to untapped opportunities”. I suppose he is trying to say a smart person should be able to think and communicate even complex ideas with clarity and simplicity. Easier said than done.

Most people tend to either talk too much (my case) or clam up when they are nervous. If you feel yourself starting to do either during an interview, try this trick, which a friend advised me: take a few sips of water (don’t forget to ask for a glass of water at the beginning, if they don’t offer you one) while you collect yourself, breathe in and carry on. Make sure your thoughts are coming out coherently.

Many recruitment agents these days offer interview coaching; get some practice beforehand if you think it will help.

5) Fearlessness

People who will only ever do what they’re told to do, or are only concerned about maintaining the status quo will not be seen as “leader types”. In the competitive world we live in, CEOs are looking for people who are not afraid to challenge and push ahead of the competition. By taking risks. By being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

This does not mean you should tell your interviewer your hobby is bungee jumping. In business, you need to be making calculated, informed decisions, even when taking risks, so a balance of fearless and sensible is probably ideal.

You could be asked how you would improve their business if you were in the role. However unusual or risky the suggestions, as long as you can explain your line of thinking logically, you may impress with your ingenuity. But if you overdo it, hoping for the ‘wow factor’, you may talk yourself out of the job. Show you are creative/innovative but back it up with plenty of shrewd business acumen.

Bryant says there is a lot to be learned from CEOs about leadership, as they practise it daily. They have tried and tested their leadership styles and know what works and what doesn’t.

Whether your aim is to one day become a senior executive or your ambitions are much more modest, the fact is employers like candidates with a winner mentality. We all know there are more jobseekers than jobs out there right now, so the more you sound like a winner, the better your chances of landing a job.

Your CV and cover letter will get you the interview. But to survive the interview and beat the competition, you need more than a list of skills and achievements. The following tweet from a recruitment consultant I know says it all:

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10 must-have items for your interview day (ladies’ version)

Interview days can often feel as they’re ruled by Sod’s Law. Just because you are nervous and desperate to avoid delays and unnecessary waste of time and energy, the universe seems to be conspiring to slow you down and test your nerves.

I nearly missed my train en route to an interview this week because I misread the platform number as 15, instead of 5, and had literally three minutes to run back to the correct platform on pin heels, carrying a large handbag and a laptop case. I never prayed nor sweated…nor swore to myself so intensively in my entire life… As the commercial says, “Should have gone to Specsavers….”

Dozens of things can go wrong between the moment you step out of the house until you arrive at the interview. On a day when you want to look as professional and tidy as possible, you need to be as prepared as you can for all eventualities.

I thought I would share below my list of 10 practical things I always carry with me for interviews, which have helped me keep my respectability despite mishaps along the way. Please feel free to add your own suggestions. This one is a lady’s version, but if enough male readers leave their tips, I will create a new list and update.

1) An extra pair of tights (=stockings in the US)

Tights are misbehaving creatures at the best of times. All you need is for the edge of your ring, or a broken nail, to get caught on the nylon, and RRRRRIP….another one goes down the dust. This happened to me two days ago on the way to an important interview, although the tear was on the heel travelling upwards. Luckily I had a pair of reserves in my handbag, so I could change into them. If I were only meeting friends, I may not have bothered but arriving for an interview wearing a suit with a huge ladder down your legs will make you look as if you don’t care about your appearance…. You can buy tights inexpensively from pharmacies like Boots or from supermarkets. Or traditionalists from Marks & Spencers. Believe me, you will never be sorry you have packed this.

You can also avoid troublesome tights but opting to wear a trouser suit instead of skirt or dress.

2) Oil blotting tissues 

Invaluable if you’re going to an interview in the summer. The ones I am using now came free with a magazine, but you can get them cheaply from Boots, Superdrug, Body Shop, Muji, etc. If you happen to have to run for a train, as I did, the sweat can make your face shiny, your makeup may have started to run… Or you may get stuck for 20 minutes inside a broken London underground train on a very stuffy day.

If you want to look cool and confident as you arrive at your appointment, blot out that shine. Aim for a matt look. (A compact powder top-up can also help). Sweatier types, add to that a small wash towel or a handkerchief to wipe yourself dry before your interview clothes get drenched.

3) Deodorant (for top-up)

I forgot to take this with me last time so had to make do with a little perfume instead. Even if you have showered and applied deodorant before leaving home, a long journey in a hot summer days can make the cleanest jobseeker in the world start to worry about their body odour.  If your interviewer catches any unpleasant B.O. wafting from your direction, you will certainly lose some precious first-impression points.

Don’t forget nervousness can also make people sweat. Always have a mini deodorant in your bag for extra confidence.

4) Plasters

For your feet. If you are like me and normally live in flat shoes and trainers, you may find yourself in agonising pain wearing court and/or high heels, particularly on a warm day, when your feet are more likely to be bloated. Apply plasters on those “problem corners”, which most rub against your shoes, before putting the shoes on, to prevent blisters. If you suffer from painful bunions, invest on some good-quality bunion pads and protect all sensitive areas.

Carry plenty of extra plasters with you. Blisters or no blisters, you can’t take off those shoes until after the interview, so save yourself the pain and the tears. Get plastered!

5) Flats (feet again)

A comfort-loving girl’s best friend. Your feet will thank you for a change into them, after you leave the interview. Plain, light ones are the best (rather than anything fancy or designer items), so you can carry them discreetly in your handbag. Large supermarkets and discount stores sell them at laughably affordable prices  (I think I bought mine for £6 at Sainsbury’s).

6) Pocket tissues + wet tissues 

Most ladies seem to carry tissues in their bags anyway, but I find having one small packet of wet tissues (about a pound in most shops) is indispensable, especially if I am travelling a bit further out for the interview and need to eat/drink on the way. What if you get something sticky on your hands and there is no water in the train’s toilet? What if you spill coffee on your suit? Better be safe than sorry.

7) Breath Mints
Mints, Mints & lots of Mints... Apart from body odour, what can be tremendously offputting for an interviewer is bad breath. Use your common sense.  Avoid eating anything too garlicky on the day before your interview, as it may still be on your breath the day after.

I brush my teeth and use mouthwash before leaving home anyway, but as most of my job interviews have been out of town (=long journey), I always need to eat again on the way. Chewing gums can be good for cleaning any food debris from between your teeth when you are on the go, but minutes before the interview, pop in a couple of strong mints to clear any remaining food smells from your breath.

8 ) Pocket-size mirror

It is always a good idea to do a final check in a mirror for any signs of smudged mascara, lipstick, messed up hair, etc before the interview. There may or may not be enough time for a visit to the toilets before the interview, so better have that compact mirror ready as a backup. You may have groomed yourself perfectly before you left home but train journeys, hot weather, rain, humidity, all of these things can have a disastrous effect of your appearance. The last thing you want is to walk into an interview looking like a slob.

One tip about make-up: aim for professional look, not drag queen. Be wary of wearing very bright red lipstick unless you are applying for a job in the sex industry. It can give all the wrong messages…

9) Umbrella

Did you check the weather forecast before you left home? If there is a chance of rain, pack in a compact umbrella, even if you have never used one in your life as you love walking in the rain… You want to arrive there looking dry and smart, not like a bedraggled rat. As with all items so far, look for a small, light version so as not to overload your bag. My emergency brolly cost £1 at a pound shop.

10) Pen & paper/notebook

Not everyone does this, but I like to take notes during an interview, as the interviewer will usually tell you about the company and the role. Annotating can be useful in many ways: a) it shows you are interested enough to write things down, b) the notes will help you expand further on points discussed if you’re called for a second interview, c) having something to do with your hands will help you feel less nervous (BUT don’t forget to make regular contact with the interviewer or it will look as if you are avoiding them!), d)  it can help you look more professional.

I always jot down beforehand some questions I would like to ask during the interview and some key words on subjects the interviewer might want me to talk about. Basically, I use the notebook as a cue card. I personally like reporter notebooks but you may prefer a smaller memo pad. If you do take a notebook, have your own pen(s) ready so you don’t have to ask for one. It shows forethought: you have prepared for it; you are organised, a very important skill in any position.

What do you normally take to an interview that has been helpful?

 

Products and images shown:

  1. Bare Cooling Ladder Resit Tights Open Toe Tights (7 denier) from Marks & Spencers £4.00
  2. Natural Powder Facial Blotting Tissues from Body Shop (£4.50 for tea-tree ones)
  3. Lemon & Coriander deodorant from Neals’ Yard £7.50
  4. Clear plasters (pack of 40) from Superdrug £1.69
  5. Wet anti-bacterial handy wipes from Boots £1.05
  6. Black pumps from Marks & Spencers £19.50
  7. Photo of mint assortment by pshegubj on Flickr
  8. Aluminium Compact Mirror (S,M,L) from Muji  (£3.95-£7.50) – image from Muji US
  9. Totoro’s umbrella from,well, the magic forest in Hayao Miyazaki’s animation (£priceless)
  10. Reporters Notebook from Asda £0.53

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