Interviews can be intimidating, uncomfortable and it isn’t always clear what employers are looking for. But while the situation is sometimes too much, like anything else, it is a skill that if practiced can be perfected.
The more you prepare and rehearse, the better you will do. Success doesn’t necessarily happen on day one so don’t be disappointed if things don’t go to plan first time around, reflect, learn and try again.
The key to a great job interview is preparation, preparation and more preparation!
When someone asks the question, “What do you know about us?” and the answer is, “Not too much, – just what I’ve in the job ad!” it’s a difficult one to recover from and leave the right impression!
If the job is at entry-level, a part time job for a teenager you wouldn’t expect them to know the company’s results, they don’t need to know the what the company’s ambition and strategy is in order to do a great job but it’s different when you’re looking for the next step up that corporate ladder
If you’re an ambitious professional looking to progress people expect you to have done your research. Let’s not forget taking on a new role isn’t just about working for another company it’s about you forging a new partnership with an organisation that will potentially have a major impact on the direction your life takes, your progression, where you live, your ambitions and ultimately your happiness and mental wellbeing.
Your research will guide you in your decision making, it’ll set the scene for the interview, help you make that connection with the panel. Your knowledge of the company will help you question the panel about the organisation you’re potentially going to commit to, the company where you will spend many hours a week working with the people sitting across the table from you. It’s your chance to start to make your decisions and decide is the where I want to be?
There are certain things the employer needs to know about before they will hire you. There are certain things you need to know about the role and your prospective next boss, too — before you’ll know whether or not you want the job.
At a minimum you should spend 2-3 hours preparing for that all important interview. It may sound like a lot but it’ll be time invested wisely and post interview when reflecting you’ll realise the importance and benefits of taking the time to prepare.
As part of your preparation here are some of the key things you should research about the organisation you are having an interview.
What does the company do?
How large is the company?
What is its turnover, financial results?
How long as the company being operating?
Where does the company have locations?
Who owns the company? Is it publicly traded, or privately owned?
Who are the people that run the company? What have you learned about them on LinkedIn and by reading the company’s website, newsletter or blog?
What is the job title for this job (from the job ad)?
What is the job you are being interviewed for?
You’re Interview Backpack
As well as doing your research you also need to make sure you have the tools to support you
Additional copies of your CV
A notebook or a folder with a note pad secured inside it.
A selection of reliable pens
Printed directions to the interview location (in case you lose your connection).
Your questions, written out in your notes to support you when discussing. This will make you look organised and in control.
Dress for the job you want. If you’re speaking to a recruiter before the interview, you can ask them about the dress code in the workplace and choose your outfit accordingly. If you don’t have someone to ask, research the company to learn what’s appropriate.
Don’t forget the little things. Shine your shoes, make sure your nails are clean and tidy, and check your clothes for holes, stains, pet hair and loose threads. Brush your teeth and use floss.
Plan your schedule so that you can arrive 10–15 minutes early. Map out your route to the interview location so you can be sure to arrive on time. Consider doing a trial run. If you’re taking public transportation, identify a backup plan if there are delays or closures.
Pro-tip: When you arrive early, use the extra minutes to observe the workplace dynamics.
Answers to 10 questions about the organization (you’ll learn these answers through your pre-interview research project):
You should also prepare to talk about yourself, don’t forget this is all about you. When you walk out of that room you want to leave them with one thought; ‘that’s the person we need’
In the space of an hour or so you’ll have a limited opportunity to convince them it’s you they need, so think about the below scenarios and make sure you have very clear examples that you can draw on and recite when the opportunity rises
A story about a time you saved the day.
A story about a time you had to work with a difficult or challenging person or group.
A story about a time you had to make some important decisions and provide direction
A story about a time you learned from a mistake.
A time when you had to go the extra mile and do something above and beyond your normal role to deliver something for the business or a customer
Finally it’s time to get mentally prepared. It’s time to step up, b think positively, be in command and show people why you are the one!
Dress to impress, interview clothing that makes you feel powerful and amazing. You need to ooze confidence when you walk through that door and that special outfit to show you mean business will help you do just that.
The mindset “I’m going to this interview to get this job, they want me, they need me. Today can change the rest of my life so make it count! I’m relaxed, I’m confident and I’m ready to go
Focus be yourself and whilst it may seem obvious don’t try too hard, they want to see the person you are. People work with people and if they can see the real you shine through you’ll be half way there.
The reason you’re sitting in front of these people is they have seen your experience, it’s on your CV. You got the interview that’s the hardest part, they like what thieve read! What they want to see today is the person behind those words, are they right for this team, can you bring something different to this job. It’s time to validate their thinking that’s why they’ve asked to see you so now it’s up to you.
Finally remember these people have shown an interest in you and your background well enough to interview you so other companies will too. Whilst it’s important to prepare you need to be cognisant that not all interviews go to plan.
Interview technics need to be developed and refined, don’t be disheartened if you don’t land that job first time around, it can take time! Take the time to reflect if you don’t get the job ask for feedback, and understand the reasons why things didn’t go to plan. Preparation remains the key and as long as you prepare and refine you will land that next big job even if it’s not first time round.