In 2015, it is always going to be a fierce competition when trying to win over a hiring manager; it can be like a battle against your fellow interviewees when you go for an interview, as there will be many applicants challenging for the same job. This means it is even more crucial that your interviewing skills are up to scratch – since potential employers will judge you as much on how you interview as the qualifications you possess. With almost half of graduates in the UK still unemployed after six months of completing their degree, inexperience in the workplace and poor interviewing techniques are costing people dearly.

Don't slip up in the race for a job

When a company is hiring and uses a fixed cost recruitment company, such as Hiring People, they post the job advert on 100 different boards, so even if only 10 people apply to each posting, that means there are 1000 applicants. This is why it’s so important to make yourself stand out, both in your CV and interview.

If you get through to the interview stage, you will meet a hiring manager(s) who will be the one(s) to interview and assess you. Make no mistake, first impressions do matter and they do last; your hiring manager is likely to be assessing you from the second they meet you. The choice of clothing can be absolutely crucial for first impressions. What you should wear will vary depending on the position/company you have applied for/to, but generally you should try to look smart and while not being overly fashionable you don’t have to be completely boring.

Choosing something between fashionable and functional is the sort of balance you want to achieve, ensuring that you still look smart, neat and clean. To emphasize how important this is: 65 per cent of employers stated that clothing can be a deciding factor between two similar candidates, and a high 70 per cent of employers claim they don’t want someone who is ‘too’ fashionable. So be sensible and dress for the best first impressions, albeit appropriate to the position (as they may be expecting you to wear different things at a large law firm than at a small independent).

Rebecca Hersey, the HR Coordinator for the Kent Law Firm Thomson Snell and Passmore from Tunbridge Wells and Dartford, told us what she looked for first in an interviewee:

“We want to see a commitment to achieving high standards, whatever level you’re at, for yourself and for the firm. That’s very important to us – a lot of our reputation is founded on our high standards and client service. The legal market is changing rapidly; the successful lawyer in today’s market has a long term interest in the client and not just the shorter term ‘matter’ so we look for a broad perspective early on in someone’s career.”

Of course there is more to first impressions than just your clothing. You’re voice, choice of language and even grammar can rule you out. The very words you use in an effort to sell yourself to the hiring manager can give off an impression about you and who you are. 38 per cent of hiring managers admitted that a candidate’s voice, grammar and confidence all make a difference in how they assess your interview. Almost one tenth also said that they judge the words an interviewee chooses to use when conveying an answer. This shows how key it is to be confident when speaking; thinking carefully about how to construct your answers.

Non-verbal communications also says a great deal about how you feel: posture, eye contact, whether or not you fold your arms and so forth, all of these little details can be signals to a hiring manager that you might not have even noticed. A staggering 67 per cent of people forget to maintain eye contact. While this is often a sign of nerves, the hiring manager will most likely not see that in a positive light. Even worse, a lack of eye contact can also make you seem rude or uninterested, instead of merely shy. Make sure you greet your hiring manager with eye contact, and a good handshake for that matter.

We asked Jo Parry of the Waterfront Solicitors and Intellectual Property law firm, London, if she could offer any advice for interviewees:

“The one piece of advice I would offer to someone going for interview is to thoroughly research the company and – as far as you can – the people that are going to be interviewing you. If you’ve already considered how you’re going to fit into your new work environment and where you can add the most value, you’ve given yourself the best chance of interview success.”

So, when you approach your interview remember the basics. Make eye contact, ensure you don’t come across as uninterested when you’re really just nervous; be confident about yourself and the answers you give. Look your smart best, you don’t want to blow your chances at a first glance. Finally, remember to be polite, it should be taken for granted, but an employer will recoil if you don’t show that you possess such basic manners. With all of this in mind, you should better your chances of getting the job that you are fighting for. Good luck!