How to prepare for your next interview
Great work, you’ve made it through to the interview stage. You now can be sure that you’ve got a real fighting chance at securing this role, all you need to do is dazzle the interviewer(s) – easy right? Unfortunately, not, this stage can prove to be the most daunting for many candidates. Every interview is different depending on the interviewer(s) and their specific style of interviewing. Consequently, this makes it difficult to be comprehensively prepared for any interview – but this does not mean you should not prepare. Preparation puts you in the best possible position to deliver a successful interview.
We’ve put together some useful generic tips that will help you prepare for your next interview:
- Research, Research, Research – the first step to job interview success!
- Research the role by thoroughly analysing the job description. Highlight the key responsibilities of the role and identify solid examples of experience you have in these areas. Think about how you gained the experience and how this both added to your skills and benefited the organization you were working for at the time.
- Research the organisation by doing a Google search and visiting the company website. Make sure you understand the purpose of the organisation and their values so you can refer to this during your interview. At this stage think of some questions you could ask the interviewer.
- Research the interviewer(s) by checking out their profiles on the company website and also their social media profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook (if you can find them). This might give you a better idea of the personality of the interviewer you will be facing which in turn may help you to feel more at ease in the lead up to the interview.
This all sounds quite time consuming, especially if you are attending a few interviews around the same time, but it is absolutely worth it to know your stuff! By gaining more understanding in these areas it will not only better prepare you for any possible questions you might be asked but you will also feel more at ease when you get to the interview.
- Be mindful of what your areas of strength are and areas you can improve on. Though you may not be asked the classic “strengths and weaknesses question” upfront you will at some stage need to incorporate this information into your interview. Always refer to real life examples to back up what you’re saying instead of mindlessly listing off general strengths and weaknesses without any substance behind them. For example, if you’re going to state that “being organised” is one of your strengths make sure you have some solid examples of how you demonstrate this ability in your day-to-day work life. The more comprehensive your answer, the less the interviewer needs to interrogate you and this helps you to maintain an element of control over the interview. However, at the same time try to avoid long rambling answers that could bore the interviewer!
- Dress in an appropriate manner. This doesn’t always mean donning a full suit or corporate attire. The dress code will vary from organisation to organisation. Contrary to common belief you can be overdressed up for an interview, for example, if you’re interviewing at a company where the general dress code is relatively casual then showing up to your interview in a suit will show that you haven’t done your research on the company and the environment. If you’re unsure of what to wear ask your recruiter for guidance, or if you are going direct to a client, ask the person organizing the interview, they should be able to point you in the right direction.
- First impressions are important. Before you even take your seat in the interview room you are already being judged on your performance. The performance begins the second you walk through that main office door. This initial phase is the easiest part of your interview and there is no excuse for getting this wrong as it mainly involves being a nice and friendly person!
- Don’t just be on time, be early – approximately about 10-15 minutes! In advance of your interview research where you need to go and how long it will take you to get there – and then double that amount of time to accommodate for traffic/parking/public transport delays or unforeseen events. Being early will give you time to relax and get yourself in the right positive mindset for the interview. Turning up flustered and red faced will only add to your own (likely already heightened) stress levels.
- Be polite and professional to every person you meet – from the people you encounter briefly in the lift (who could potentially be a manager or one of your interviewers) to the staff member sitting at reception. Remember these people are all colleagues who potentially might be asked what your initial behaviour was like – or if your behaviour is adverse, they may feel the need to proactively report it to the interviewer. It could potentially be feedback from the receptionist that results in you being declined for the role.
- Greet your interviewer in a confident and friendly manner – stand up, smile, make eye contact and offer a firm handshake. Having a positive and enthusiastic attitude will quickly help the interviewer to warm to you which can set a welcoming tone for the rest of the interview. If you are feeling nervous let them know, it’s completely normal and saying it out loud may help you feel more at ease.
- Be authentic and be yourself - Interviews are stressful enough as it is without pretending to be someone you’re not!
You have made it this far as your background and the experience on your CV aligned with the expectations for the role and you also passed the initial screening phone call. While you will of course still need to expand on your experience in the interview you also now need to demonstrate to them what kind of person you are. A large part of the interview is about determining whether you are the right character required for that team/organisation. This of course can be extremely subjective as different teams will have their own views of who the “perfect person” for that team is. Sometimes being the most self-assured and confident person in the room isn’t always going to be the right fit. Be the best version of yourself and hope that your personality aligns with what they’re looking for. You may find out at interview that the client culture is not what you thought. Complete your interview professionally and decide later if this is for you or not, it is too easy to burn bridges at the time and really hard to put them back together later. While you should prepare talking points on various topics don’t memorise paragraphs of answers as you’ll come across as sounding robotic. There should be a natural flow with your speech, it’s fine to pause and have a think about what you’re going to say next.
- Do not overlook the importance of body language
It is not unheard of for hiring manager to decline a candidate as they were irritated by their mannerisms. Your body language demonstrates your engagement in the interview. Good body language such as smiling, nodding and eye contact show that you are enthusiastic and interested in being there. Bad body language like fidgeting, looking away from the interviewer, slouching, playing with your hair, chewing gum (no excuse for this one!!!) are all attributes which can make a terrible impression on an interviewer. Sometimes nervousness can lead to these habits and you may only learn from an interview scenario that you are guilty of any of these – but once you identify what your adverse body language is it is important that you actively try to improve on this.
- Always try to ask a few questions.
Asking questions affirms your interest in the role and the organisation. Do your research beforehand and line up a number of questions to ask as it is likely that some of them may be covered by the interviewer before you have a chance to ask – and it’s not a good look to cover a topic that’s already been discussed! Also have a think about what’s important to you whether that be career development or what the staff culture is like – remember an interview isn’t’ just about an organisation screening you to see if you’re right for them, it’s also about you determining whether they are right for you. Interviewers will appreciate you asking questions to assess this.
- Be courteous and polite as you exit the interview.
No matter how you feel the interview went good manners go a long way in an interview setting – or any setting for that matter! Thank each interviewer for their time and thank the receptionist as you leave. If the interview didn’t go your way at least they will be able to acknowledge that you can still be good spirited and polite and leaving on good terms may mean they will be open to considering you again for future opportunities. It is also a good idea to send an email thanking them for their time. If, following on from the interview, you are still interested in the role you should also confirm this in the email. As mentioned previously, if it’s not for you, decline gracefully, we don’t always know what life is going to serve up for us and it may be some future role in a different team is precisely right for you.