The thought of a job interview is enough to send many of us into a cold sweat. But if you want to secure that next job in travel, it is almost inevitable you will have to go through one.

It can be the most important part of the job-seeking process – you’ll be in front of the people who will decide if you are right for the position. With no CVs or experience to hide behind, it’s just you and them.

New Frontiers managing director Julia Feuell said: “The most shining CV and glowing credentials mean little if you make a mess of that all-important face-to-face meeting with your prospective employer.”

So, to give you best chance, Travel Weekly asked experts from leading travel recruitment agencies to advise on how to approach an interview.

Preparation

If you want to make a good impression, preparation is vital and rushing to get to your destination will do nothing to help your nerves.

“Find out well in advance exactly where the interview is and how to get there. Double-check the address and directions and, if travelling by train, look up connections and timetables and check for delays,” said Feuell. Make sure you have the company’s phone number in case your journey is delayed.

Arrive about five to 10 minutes early, but no earlier. “It can be annoying and leave you stewing for too long,” said Feuell.

If you do arrive too early, have a coffee somewhere – but do not drink alcohol. If you smoke, carry some mints to freshen your breath – but never go into an interview chewing gum or sucking sweets.

Carry an extra copy of your CV to give to the interviewer, said Feuell.

“Asking for it to be photocopied will be, at best, annoying. Think about presentation – the CV and other certificates and references can be displayed in a presentation folder – creased, old envelopes will not do much for your image.”

How to dress

AA People Development managing director Debbee Dale has seen all sorts of interview dress code no-nos in her time.

She said: “We once interviewed a lady who came in a massive biker’s jacket – she looked uncomfortable and was sweating. After she declined our suggestion that she take off her jacket to make herself comfortable, we asked her why she decided to wear the jacket to an interview.

“We interviewed a lady who came in a massive biker’s jacket – she looked uncomfortable and was sweating.”

“She said: ‘It’s my lucky jacket!’ But it made her look and feel uncomfortable, so she stumbled and lost track during the interview, which didn’t leave a favourable impression,” said Dale.

Another of Dale’s interviewees was turned down for wearing thigh-length boots. “Although the manager thought they were ‘very nice’ they didn’t make a good impression. She didn’t get the job,” she said.

The second interview

According to Gail Kenny Executive Search senior account manager Jayne Peirce, second interviews are about reaffirming first impressions.

“They should recap the first interview and think about some of the questions they were asked or things they picked up on that could be used to demonstrate their experience,” she said.

It is also worth delving a bit deeper into the company and searching some news sites, forums and blogs.

“A good technique to impress the interviewer is being knowledgeable about its recent financial results or corporate news,” said Peirce, who said candidates should make sure they have studied the job description carefully and are aware of its key competencies.

“Be ready to demonstrate your possession of these competencies along with relevant examples in your interview,” she added.

When it comes to presentations, the client is looking for quality of content, not how pretty it looks. It’s important candidates show how they can add value.
 
Peirce said: “It is vital the candidate shows confidence in their own ability and builds a good rapport with all involved in the interview process. It is also important for the candidate to demonstrate, with examples, what they can bring to the role and the company.”

Frequently-asked questions

C&M Travel Recruitment client marketing manager Sarah Clayton-Turner identifies common interview questions and offers tips on how to answer them.

‘Why do you want to work for this company?’ – Sarah said: “This is an opportunity to show the interviewer how enthusiastic you are about the job and the industry. If you have done your homework it will be a lot easier to answer. Don’t say things like: ‘I’ve heard that you pay well.’”

‘Why did you leave your last job?’ – “Answers such as: ‘I didn’t get on with my boss’ will not make you look good. If you were made redundant then be honest,” said Sarah.

What are your strengths and weaknesses? – Sarah said: “List three or four of your strengths, such as ability to learn quickly. “Weaknesses are trickier. Try to reflect positively on any weaknesses that you do have and outline steps that you have taken to overcome them. Also avoid clichés such as: ‘I work too hard’.”