Got a job interview lined up? It’s easy to buckle under nerves and the pressure of landing a role, especially if it’s your dream job on the line. However, there are some simple ways you can maximise your chances, from doing some solid research to planning your outfit. Get ready for success with these top ten ways to prepare for a job interview.
Thoroughly research the company so you understand their business and can show the interviewer you’re serious about wanting to work for them. Check their website for information as well as their social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. Don’t forget to Google the company for press releases, news stories and articles in trade publications.
Make sure you find out who owns the company and learn about its history and what its biggest clients and achievements are. Familiarise yourself with the mission statement and figure out who their main competitors are, it’s also useful to research the wider industry so you’re aware of any trends and issues affecting the sector.
The job description and person specification is your best weapon when preparing for an interview. This tells you exactly what the company is looking for, so it’s up to you to prove you match these requirements. Go through the description meticulously and write down how you meet the criteria for the role, thinking of real-life examples that demonstrate your expertise. If the description asks for experience in organising events, for example, compile a list of events you’ve arranged in the past.
You can never fully know what an interviewer will ask, but you can prepare and practise answers to some of these common interview questions:
● Tell me a bit about yourself.
● Why do you want this job?
● What are your strengths and weaknesses?
● Why should we hire you?
● Give an example of when you’ve had to deal with a challenging situation at work.
● What’s your greatest achievement?
● Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
When preparing your answers, be confident about your skills without boasting and avoid clichés such as claiming, “I’m a perfectionist”, as your biggest weakness. Keep your answers succinct and business focused, providing plenty of anecdotes and examples to back up your claims. Don’t just say that you’re a team player, for instance, talk about a specific group project you worked on.
Nothing will ruin all that preparation faster than sloppy personal appearance. First impressions count, so make sure you look clean, sharp and professional. Dress appropriately for the company you’re applying to work for but as a general rule, choose
suits, dresses, shirts and trousers in neutral colours like black or navy. Match your shoes and accessories and go clean-shaven with tidy hair. Finally, make sure your clothes are well fitted and freshly washed, ironed and laid out ready for the big day.
Double check the date, time and location of your interview, then look up the directions and figure out how you’re going to travel there. If possible, do a dry run to see how long the journey takes, but always leave yourself plenty of extra time to allow for unforeseen circumstances and delays. Have the contact details for your interviewer handy in case the worst happens and you’re held up.
Enlist a relative or friend to help you practise your interview technique. Run through a list of the most commonly-asked questions and get them to throw in a few surprises to keep you on your toes. Pay attention to your body language and practise being concise and taking time to think before answering. Don’t forget to review your CV too so that you’re prepared to answer questions about your work history and achievements.
You may be required to take some documents with you to the interview, these might include:
● A printed copy of your CV
● Completed application form
● List of references
● Photo ID
Prepare these documents in advance by making sure they’re up to date and placed together in a smart folder or envelope. Take your list of questions for the interviewer and a notepad and pens to jot down notes.
Try to make yourself as comfortable and relaxed as possible. That may mean going for a run the morning of your interview, soaking in the bath the night before, making sure you eat a healthy breakfast, or even taking a keepsake or charm with you. Yes, even the most successful people have lucky charms, including actors and sports stars.
Make sure you know the name of your interviewer and greet everyone politely with confidence, enthusiasm and a firm handshake. Remember to make good eye contact, smile often, sit up straight, listen attentively and try not to speak too quickly. There’s nothing wrong with asking for clarification if you don’t understand a question or pausing to consider your answer either. It goes without saying that you should turn your mobile off in any interview situation.
Show off your knowledge of the company and enthusiasm for the role by formulating some questions to ask your interviewer. Be careful not to ask anything that you could have found the answer to on the company’s website or that they’ve already answered during the interview. Possible questions could include:
● Who would I be working closely with?
● In your opinion, what’s the most important aspect of the role?
● What’s the working culture and environment here like?
● What are my opportunities for advancement?
● What are the next steps in the interview process?
Once you’ve completed the interview, consider sending a short email the next day to thank the interviewer for their time and to ask if they need any follow-up information. So, prepare well and go into that interview with a positive attitude – good luck!
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