How to prepare for an interview
The job interview is an incredibly important step in the recruitment process for both jobseeker, and employer. It’s an opportunity for both sides to see if they can work together and if each other is the right fit.
As a job seeker, the interview is arguably the most nerve-wracking part of the process and we have therefore put this guide together to help you calm those nerves and give you confidence to put your best foot forward and, hopefully, secure the next step in your career journey.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
In preparing for your interview you want to find out as much information about your potential new employer as possible The more you know about them, the more you can align your own goals and experience with what they are looking for, thereby showing you are a good fit for the role.
How can you do this? The company’s website is a good place to start. Google and other search engines will bring up what other people and organisations are saying about the company such as media outlets. Social media like Facebook and LinkedIn are also good sources of information. Finally, do you know anyone already working at the company? Maybe they could give you some insight too.
What are some of the key things to look for? The company’s history, the key people (especially the ones you would be interacting with), its products or services, its mission, vision, and values, its locations, any subsidiaries or parent companies. See if you can find any information about what other people in similar roles to the one you are interviewing for are doing too.
Prepare for some of the classic interview questions too. This is especially important for anyone feeling a bit unconfident as it can really help calm those nerves. These questions can include:
- Why this company?
- Why are you leaving your current role?
- What were some key results achieved in your current role?
- How do you approach projects?
- How do you approach difficult conversations?
- What are your career aspirations?
Do you have any questions? (Don’t say no! You can use this as an opportunity to learn more and to clarify any points – show you have been actively listening)
Answers you give to these questions should highlight the research you’ve done about the company, and why you would be a good fit for them but most importantly, be honest. Most interviewers will notice if you are not.
Bonus tip: Think about how you will get to the interview. Will you drive? Make sure you know the closest parking options. Is your interview online? Make sure you are somewhere free from distraction.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Especially for those interviewing in person, you have opportunities to sell yourself even before you get into the room with the interviewers. Think about all the people you would interact with. The receptionist, for example. Maybe it goes without saying but make sure you are as polite with them as you would be with your interviewers. They could be reporting back to the decision makers.
In addition, make sure you arrive in plenty of time. Not too early, but you don’t want to be arriving just on time either if you can help it.
Once in the interview, think about your body posture, eye contact, and tone of voice. All these things contribute to the overall picture of you as a potential employee, as well as the things you say. You want to sit up straight rather than slouch in the chair, for example, as slouching could come across as being uninterested.
When it comes to answering the interviewers’ questions, try to answer with full sentences and use examples of previous work, rather than resorting to one word answers. Using the STAR method can be a great way to answer questions:
- S = situation: Describe a particular event or situation. What, who, when, why.
- T = task: What tasks did you have? Did you face any challenges with those tasks that you managed to overcome?
- A = action: What actions did you take to overcome the challenge?
- R = results: What were the results of your efforts? What was the impact on the business?
Make sure you are fully aware of everything on your CV too. It can be easy enough to forget certain dates, for example, but if the things you are saying don’t align with what’s written on your CV, it could cast doubt over you as a potential employee.
Bonus tip: Remain positive during the interview. Many people can be negative about previous employers but this can be a red flag for the interviewers.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
As you conclude the interview, ask what the next steps are. This shows you are interested in continuing with the process, and will hopefully give you some clarity around timelines so you can relax a little.
You can also follow up via email later to thank the interviewer/s for their time and reconfirm your interest in the role.
Remember the tip from earlier about being polite to the receptionist or other people you would meet? Don’t forget to do this on the way out too!