We all know how daunting interviews can be – it might be your first interview in a while, your first interview ever or one of many you’ve been attending – any situation can bring out those nerves.
The biggest piece of advice to remember when approaching an interview is that preparation is key. It’s something I’ve talked about a lot in previous articles and can’t drum in enough.
Some of the things you should think about in preparation:
#1 Research the Company
With any luck you will have already done this to some degree in order to complete your application/cover letter. Make sure you know what the company’s mission statement is, who their client/customer base is and any plans for development in the coming future – especially if it’s something the role you’re applying for will play a part in. A thorough read through their website and a Google search should bring you enough information.
A common interview question employers like to open with is the ‘Tell me about yourself’ scenario and having some information to hand about the company will help you answer this question as they will generally be looking for some information as to why you’ve applied for the role your interviewing for within this question.
#2 Know the Job Description
It sounds like common sense but I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t have a good understanding of the role they’ve applied to. A lot of people view the job title and make assumptions about what they’ll be doing based on that. Make sure you’ve read through all the job requirements and duties – anything you’re not sure of prepare questions to ask at the interview to find out more.
Having a strong understanding of what you’ll be doing will make it a lot easier to answer some of those other common interview questions such as your strengths and weaknesses as you’ll be able to frame them around the job you’re applying for.
#3 Find Out What You Need
Do you need to bring any documents with you? Do you need to prepare a presentation – do you need to email it in advance and what resources will they have for you to present? Have they asked you to bring along a business plan, what does it need to include?
Once your interview has been confirmed it’s always a good idea to follow up and find out what you need to bring along, or prepare. For some roles, I would always recommend taking a 3 month plan along with you, detailing what you would like your first few months in role to look like. It demonstrates initiative and can show the employer you have a strong understanding of the role and industry you’re going into.
#4 Find Out Where You’re Going
Common sense I know but so many people fail to take this into consideration. Research where your interview is taking place and plan your journey – in some cases it might even be worth making the journey a few days before so you’re not rushing (or getting lost trying to decipher google maps, as I have done more than once!).
Check travel updates the night before and in the morning so you can prepare and plan in any additional time that you might need to make it there.
#5 Practice Practice Practice
In the run up to your interview, think about the types of questions you might be asked. It can even be worth contacting the employer for some more information – will it be competency based or more informal? Panel interview or one-to-one? This can help you prepare and practice your answers. The people that succeed interviews are the ones who know what to expect and can confidently answer questions.
I’ve worked with a lot of individuals who have assumed that you can ‘wing it’ at the interview. Not so! Remember, the employer already thinks you have the skills and experience to do the job – they wouldn’t have invited you to the interview otherwise, so don’t let yourself fall down at this stage.
There are plenty of articles that go over the most common interview questions – preparing your answers in advance can help you relax during the interview. Have a friend or relative go through a mock interview with you to give you advice or offer any pointers. If there will be competency based questions, don’t forget to use the STAR technique.
And at the interview? As always, be personable! Professionalism always comes first but don’t be afraid to let your personality come through. Every single employer I speak to states that finding someone who will fit in with the team as one of the top things they’re looking for, far above qualifications and experience, so make sure they get to meet a little bit of you, not a robot.
photo by: courtney jade