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Interview Dos and Don’ts

DO dress appropriately and professionally – whether this means wearing a suit or just a sensible (think visiting conservative relatives) outfit, make an effort, be tidy, and tick that “good first impression” box!

DON’T make inappropriate comments, rude jokes etc. Remember this is a professional setting, so even if you are made to feel very comfortable, watch what you say very carefully! The interview lasts from the moment you see the interviewer to the moment you are no longer in each other’s company. Even if you are not answering a formal question, or are just having a chat, you are still being assessed, so make sure you don’t say anything you wouldn’t say during an interview!

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DO make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. It is important to show that you are able to think ahead and plan successfully. And on a related note:

DON’T be late! Leave at least half an hour before your appointment if you don’t know the area or building, to allow yourself time to get lost! If you know the place well, then arrive at least fifteen minutes in advance.

DO prepare. There are plenty of resources online with example questions, read them, practice answering them, and make sure you are comfortable with your answers. Look in your application for questions that might arise, make sure you can answer just about everything concerning your research!

DON’T PANIC! The panel knows you are nervous, and they expect that you might make some mistakes. If you do, don’t flail or make a big deal out of it, compose yourself and move on.

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DO study up on your interviewers (if you know who they will be in advance), and make sure you know how to address them and how they are relevant to the position you are applying for!

DON’T ask your interviewers what their work is on, if you would like to talk about it, do your research, read a couple of their papers, and bring it up if relevant!

DO say if you don’t know something! They WILL know if you are making something up, and it will make you look much more unprofessional than admitting that you don’t know the answer to a question, then offering possible solutions like where you would find the information from.

DON’T take all the time in the world to answer questions! No one will be timing you (in most cases) when you are given a certain amount of time for questions, so make sure you are on the ball and aren’t wasting time. Even if what you’re saying is impressive, if you take 40 minutes to complete a 20 minute interview that will create a bad impression.

DO ask questions. You can either prepare these in advance or wing it, but having a couple of interesting questions about the post or the work is what makes a lot of interview candidates stand out. Be one of them! But,

DON’T ask stupid questions. Now while it’s true that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, there are some that you just shouldn’t be asking in an interview setting. These are anything practical to do with the position that you can find out via admin routes (hours, pay etc.) and especially anything that was already in the grant/proposal/advert. 

And anwyay, what’s the worst that could happen??

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