How to Prepare for an Interview 

It’s probably fair to say that no one enjoys being interviewed. It’s an unavoidable part of the employment process however, and normally the final hurdle on the journey to your new job. Nerves are probably going to be your main concern, and if that wasn’t enough, there are more than just face to face interviews to think about these days.

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to help make any upcoming interview as relatively stress free as possible. We’ve put together a complete list of everything you can do to help maximise your chances of success, whilst also keeping your nerves under control as much as possible. Use these tips alongside the advice found in our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide, and we’re sure you’ll find the job you’re after in no time.

 

Types of Interview


While the face to face interview is still by far the most preferred method, video and telephone interviews are quite prevalent too. A video interview could be the only practical option if you’re applying for a role abroad, and if you’re going for telephone based role, you can guarantee potential employers will want to know how you come across on the phone. Here are a few things to bear in mind for each one:

 

Telephone interviews
tend to be used quite early on in the process, and generally don’t last too long. You can expect to be asked about your last role and what responsibilities you might have had. They may also ask about salary expectations, and why you’re interested in the role you applied for.Overall, it won’t be that different to a face to face interview in terms of potential questions. Some people find these interviews a bit less stressful, thanks to the fact you only have to talk on the phone. That said, a phone interview alone is unlikely to net you the job, so you want to do as well as possible at this stage in order to secure a face to face interview.

Telephone interviews

 

Video Interviews
Video Interviews are essentially a cross between a telephone interview and a face to face one – the interviewer will be able to speak to you directly, which means body language and presentation are important. They might be live, or pre-recorded. A pre-recorded video interview is arguably less stressful, as you can at least take the time to edit and re-record your submission if you’re not happy with it.

 

Face to Face Interviews are the most common, and probably the most familiar form of interview for jobseekers. You’ll usually be interviewed by at least two company representatives (or more, depending on the nature of the role and type of company you’re applying to), at least one of whom will be directly involved in your department on a managerial level. They tend to last around an hour. This kind of interview will normally involve a conversation about the role and company, questions from the interview panel, and sometimes short tasks or tests.

Face to Face Interviews

 

Now you have a good idea of what each interview entails, here are four steps to help ensure you do the best you can:

A male applicanat thanks a male and female interview panel in an office

 

Step 1: Do Your Research


The first step to a successful interview is making sure you fully understand the role you’ll be doing, the company you’ll be working for, and what they expect from a candidate. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel; The better you feel, the more confident you’ll come across.

 

The Role

Make sure you’re really familiar with the role you’ve applied for. It can be all too easy to fire off CVs every day and then forget the details of every specific job you put yourself forward for, so go over the description a few times to really get to know the position that’s available. You want to make sure you can clearly explain how your skills and experience fit with the role, why you want the job, and why it’s in the interest of a potential employer to get you on their team over someone else.

 

The Company/Employer
Walking in to any interview situation without knowing anything about the employer or company you’re applying for a position with is a big no no. Instead, visit your potential employer’s website and go through recent press releases and blogs – what are the company’s latest projects? Have they been mentioned on TV or in the press? Have they won any awards recently? What’s their overall philosophy and workplace culture? All these things can help you score points with an interviewer, because it shows you’re serious about the job and that your values align with theirs.Additionally, the information you discover on a company’s site could give you lots of inspiration for interview questions. A general example of how you can use this information to your advantage might be: ‘‘I read about your recent project with X – are these kind of projects common for your company, and if so, how would my role fit into the broader picture?’. This shows you’ve done your research, understand what the company provides, and that you’re already thinking about how you could contribute.

 

Questions for the Interviewers
It might not seem like a deal breaker, but not asking any questions in your interview can raise red flags – It could be interpreted as a sign that you’re not that interested in the job. While that probably isn’t the case, going in with a few questions prepared can set aside any doubts in the interviewers mind.You can find more details on what to ask (and what not to ask) in our handy interview questions guide, but generally speaking, think about what you want from your employer as well. Interviews are actually a two way process after all. It could be that you won’t be a good fit with the company culture, or that there are only limited career advancement prospects, and so on.

Asking direct questions like: ‘What are the opportunities for progression within the role?’, or ‘What are the challenges the company currently faces?’ can show your interviewers you’re thinking about the long term and bigger picture. You don’t need to prepare a 100 question quiz of course, one or two should be enough to build rapport and start conversation.

 

The Interviewers Themselves
You’ll normally know exactly who is interviewing you, as well as their position/job title. Using some online resources to learn a little bit more about your interviewers can help you connect with them from the outset – maybe you have some common interests or achievements.Checking a company’s page on Linkdin is a good way to do this, and you can also see if your interviewers have turned up in industry press articles or interviews. Perhaps they’ve spoken at events, or authored some interesting opinion pieces. All this gives you something to talk about and connect over during (and potentially after) the interview process.

 

Step 2: Practice and Prepare


Practice
When you go to see a film, music gig, or theatre show, what you’re actually seeing is hours and hours of preparation for a final performance. All that practice builds confidence, and it makes the end product look effortless and engaging. Job interviews aren’t that different. Taking the time to practice how you’ll present yourself, respond to questions, and ask questions, will make you feel much more confident when the interview day arrives.Not only that, but practice can give you something to fall back on if nerves get the better of you, and you draw a dreaded mental blank during the process.

 

Prepare
An interview is stressful enough, so you don’t want to create more difficulty for yourself by having to rush things at the last minute. Instead, try the following approach:

  • As soon as you know your interview date, start doing your research (as above).
  • Choose what you want to wear well in advance.
  • Make sure everything you need to take with you is organised and ready to go. You might need things like ID, a copy of your CV, a notepad, and so on.
  • Plan your journey and/or get any tickets you might need. Give yourself at least 15-30 minutes extra time.
  • Eat and drink before you leave! You’ll need the energy and brainpower.

 

Two male and one female job applicants sit making final notes while waiting

 

Step 3: Create a Positive Image


Once you’ve done your research, practiced, and prepared, the final thing to do is make sure you come across as your best version of yourself. Some of this comes down to appearance, and some to attitude and approach.

 

Dress to Impress
It can be tricky to know what to wear to an interview, especially if you know the company culture is fairly relaxed or informal. If you’re not sure what to wear, you can either:

  • Ask your interviewers or contact, and they’ll tell you what’s appropriate.
  • Dress smart. You can never be overdressed for an interview – even if your interviewers are in casual clothes, you’ll be sending the message that you’re serious about the opportunity, and have taken the time and effort to look your best.

 

Be Punctual
Unless you’ve got a very good reason, being late for your interview is pretty much a guaranteed rejection. It sets really bad form and sends totally the wrong message to your potential employer. Ideally you want to be around 15 or 20 minutes early. This factors in any problems finding the company address, unexpected travel delays, and so on. Being early has a few other advantages too. 

  • Less stress, because you know you have some extra time if things go wrong.
  • More time to relax before the interview, and compose your thoughts.
  • A chance to observe the company culture before you get interviewed (in most cases).
  • Sends a message of professionalism to your interviewers.

 

Clear Communication
How you interact with the interviewers, from your attitude to your body language, can have a huge effect on how they perceive you. Remember, the interviewers have never met you before, so they could easily misinterpret things that people who know you don’t even notice. Keep these simple tips in mind to come across well: 

  • Always maintain eye contact. This can be difficult if you’re naturally a bit shy, but make an effort to look your interviewers in the eyes when you ask and answer questions.
  • Don’t rush into answers. Be seen as decisive and confident by taking your time and answering any questions as clearly as possible. It’s also fine to ask for a question to be repeated if you don’t understand it. Try to avoid excessive hesitation too.
  • Sit upright and look alert. Slouching or leaning on the table is likely to send the wrong message to your interviewers.
  • Be positive. It might be tempting, but don’t go off on a tirade about how terrible your last manager was, or how much you hated your last job. Instead, use positive language and responses like: ‘I’ve enjoyed my time at X company, and gained some valuable skills, which I now want to expand on further in a more challenging role.’.

 

Step 4: Ask for Feedback


Whatever happens after the interview, make sure to ask the recruiter or employer for some feedback. If you didn’t get the job, find out what areas they thought you might have been lacking in. Was it your experience? Did you come across in a certain way during the interview? This feedback can be invaluable, because it can help you identify problem areas and address them before your next interview. It also helps to put a more positive spin on a rejection, because it gives you an opportunity to improve. This in turn gets you one step closer to being successful next time.

Positive feedback is useful too of course, because it can help you identify your strengths. In turn you’ll get an idea of which areas you should focus on improving in order to really nail any future interviews.

So there you have it. Do your best to follow the steps above, and you’ll be as ready as you can for any upcoming interview. With that in mind, now’s the perfect time to register with us, and get out there to find your ideal role

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