Interview dos and don'ts

Top 5 interview dos and don'ts

You have landed an interview for your dream job, what next? Job interviews are often daunting and it is perfectly normal to feel apprehensive or nervous. Whatever the role, there are a few key dos and don’ts which should help you to relax and feel prepared for the big day. Interviews vary from job to job but overall they are a meeting between you and a potential employer to ascertain whether you are suitable for a specific role. Interviews at yards or studs are often more informal than those which are office-based and you may be required to visit a yard for a trial one morning if the role involves riding out or handling/breaking in youngsters.

Interview dos

1. Prepare

The old phrase ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is particularly appropriate in relation to interviews. Prepare for the most common interview questions such as ‘tell me about your previous experience’ or ‘why are you interested in this role?, but also think about more specific questions related to the job you have applied for. For example, a potential groundsperson may be asked questions regarding the equipment they are able to operate and their experience in turf management.

Interview dos

2. Research the organisation

Do your research on the organisation, this is particularly important for all roles. You can read the employer’s website and get up to speed on their history and what they offer. For example, which stallions does a stud have on their roster? Does a trainer target particular races? How many horses does he/she have in training? For office-based roles, at a racecourse for example, do they offer additional events on non-racedays? What is the strategy for growing the business going forwards? This will show you have used initiative and have a genuine interest in the organisation.

Interview dos

3. Dress appropriately

For roles predominantly office-based it is important to dress smart, preferably in a suit or formal clothes. For those in a more informal setting for example at a yard or a veterinary practice, try to dress in smart but appropriate clothing and comfortable footwear. If you are riding out ensure you wear boots and clothing that is fit for purpose, and don’t forget to take your body protector and a hat. The trainer may have gear you can borrow so it is worth asking beforehand if you don’t have all of the above.

Interview dos

4. Be yourself 

A vital part of the interview is to discover if you will be a good fit for the organisation and get on well with the team. As such, try to be yourself despite any nerves and let your personality shine through. Cultural fit is essential to success in any position and being yourself will help both sides discover if you are the right person for the job.

Interview dos

5.  Ask Questions

Write down any questions that pop into your head whilst doing your research on the employer or when reading the job specification (if there is one), or memorise them to ask at the end of the interview. You might also find that questions from you arise throughout the interview. Employers like to be asked questions as it shows you have listened well and it will clear up any queries you may have.

Interview don'ts

1. Be late

Ensure your clothes, your route to the interview and method of transport are all organised the night before your interview. If you are driving to a remote area or likely to hit traffic, leave plenty of time. Try to get an early night, the night before and set your alarm earlier than normal to ensure you arrive promptly. It is worth arriving five to ten minutes early to show you have good timekeeping skills.

Interview don'ts

2. Lie

Do not lie about your qualifications, skills or previous experience. It is simple for employers to check your history and it is likely you will need references from two of your previous employers. The interviewer is more likely to appreciate your honesty if you have a skills gap and show a willingness to learn. For example, if you are applying for a racing secretary’s role but are lacking bookkeeping skills it will be beneficial to let the interviewer know but tell them you are keen to attend a training course.

Interview don'ts

3. Be negative about your current job

Do not moan about your current employer or colleagues or say anything bad about your current role. This reflects badly on you and the employer may doubt your integrity. Instead, focus on positive aspects of your job, areas in which you want to progress or skills you would like to build on. For example you may be interested in equine nutrition, you can voice this in the interview and show you are eager to progress in this area.

Interview don'ts

4. Slouch or use too much slang

Posture and body language are important! Slouching or using all the latest slang is not really a good look, it can be interpreted as laziness, unprofessional and a lack of respect. Try to sit or stand up straight, walk next to the interviewer if you are in an outdoor setting and use appropriate language during your interview or trial. This will ensure you communicate your professionalism within a working environment.

Interview don'ts

5. Be arrogant

There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Be aware of your strong points and show confidence in yourself but try not to act like you are entitled to the job or overdo it. Maintain some modesty and you will come across as much more likeable!

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