Preparing for an Interview: A Guide
Interviews are one of the most common practices in a recruitment process and although things are rapidly changing in the recruitment landscape, they don’t look like they are going away any time soon! Despite this, they are still seen as one of the most daunting experiences you can do. If you don’t feel confident going into an interview, you can very quickly find that the perfect job, that you know you could perform well in, start to slip away from you.
We will be taking a look at how you can prepare for an interview, ensuring that you are in a position to be your true self even under pressure and increase your chances of being offered the job! In this series of blogs, we will explore all the different formats of interview so you are fully prepared no matter what crops up in your recruitment process!
Preparing for an Interview
1. Researching the Company
The first mistake in any interview, (after the handshake!) is to turn up unprepared. An interviewer will very quickly suss out that you do not know enough about the business, industry or the job role you have applied for and this can come across as showing a lack of interest or suggest an inability to apply yourself.
If you get nervous in interviews, it is very easy to forget background information; however, if you do your research in advance, we suggest that you print off the main points that you want to remember, scan over them in the car or on the bus before you go into your appointment, this will ensure everything is fresh in your mind. Also, try not to complicate things, the interviewer will not expect you to know the ins and outs of the business or remember the last five years turnover (unless particularly relevant to your role of course!), so try to pick out the important factors such as, when they were established, where they have a presence in the market, what their key products or services are and if there has been any relevant news recently.
Linkedin is also a useful tool in getting to know your interviewers. Again, you don’t need to remember everyone’s career history however gaining an understanding of their background can be useful in seeing how they came to be with the company. They may be newly appointed themselves or be a long standing employee with the business. Looking at someone’s history can be interesting and you never know you might even have mutual connections with people that can be a great conversation starter.
2. Learning About the Company’s Values, Products, and Services
When researching the company, you should also become familiar with its core values and how it operates. This includes understanding its products and services and what the company stands for. Reading press releases can help you gain an understanding of the company and how it is viewed within the industry.
When answering your questions, try to use some of the ‘buzz words’ used in the company branding. This will demonstrate that you are aligned with the company’s values and vision and can be an asset to the business.
3. Understanding the Job Description
Read and reread the job description, look for specific terms or clues that may help you pitch yourself correctly in the interview. For example, if a role states that it can offer further education or will lead to progression, ensure that this aligns with your ambitions and reflect this in your responses in your interview.
Practicing Your Answers
When preparing for an interview, it is important to practice responses to some of the most common questions you are likely to be asked. This includes creating an introduction, understanding common interview questions, and formulating questions to ask the interviewer.
1. Creating an Impressive Introduction
Being prepared for a “Tell us about you” questions may sound basic, but you would be amazed at how many people stumble on this not really knowing what the interviewer is looking for. Your introduction is the first impression that you make, it is important to make a lasting impression by introducing yourself in a way that expresses your enthusiasm for the job and why you think you’re the perfect fit. Try to keep it concise and avoid excessively humble answers. Keep your response relevant to the role but don’t be afraid to add some personality or something brief about your home life too which give you a rounded view of you as a person.
2. Answering Typical Interview Questions
It is important to be prepared to answer questions such as “what are your strengths?” or “what is your weakness?”. Being able to answer these types of questions before the interview gives you the chance to think through your responses and explain yourself in a professional way. Additionally, it’s a good idea to take some time to think about how you want to respond to questions about why you are the best fit for the job.
3. Preparing Questions to Ask
The recruitment market is more candidate led than ever so don’t forget that this is your opportunity to ask the interviewer questions to ensure that the role and company are right for you. The interviewer wants to gain an understanding of your personality, skills, abilities and ambitions surely you need to know the same of the company.
We have seen so many times in the past that a client holds one interview and is so blown away by a candidate that they offer after the first meeting. This is fantastic and shows that you have demonstrated your ability, but are you ready to accept a permanent role there? We would always recommend more than one interview stage however if you haven’t asked any questions at your initial meeting, you will be none the wiser about what the company is looking to do or what they are expecting of you in the future. Common questions to ask during an interview include:
Dressing for the Interview
When choosing an outfit for an interview, it is important to keep in mind the company culture. You want to present yourself as a professional individual that is well dressed. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the company’s dress code. As a general rule, it is always a good idea to dress on the more formal side for an interview.
Key Considerations for the Interview
1. Arriving on Time
Arriving for an interview on time is an important part of making a good impression. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview so you don't have to rush. This includes factoring in time to find parking, account for traffic delays, and arrive at least 15-20 minutes early.
2. Being Courteous
Interviews often involve a team of multiple people. It is important to make sure that you are courteous to everyone that you meet during the interview process. This includes introducing yourself to the receptionist, making sure to shake everyone’s hand, and expressing your appreciation for the time they are taking to meet with you. When giving your responses to questions, try to make eye contact with everyone and avoid speaking to the same person throughout.
3. Listening Carefully
It is important to make sure that you are actively listening throughout the interview. Make sure you are making eye contact and focusing on the interviewer’s questions. Be sure to respond to each question in a concise and clear way. Additionally, pay attention to the body language of the interviewer to get a better understanding of their reactions to your answers.
4. Being Confident
Interviews can often be nerve-wracking experiences. It is important to stay positive and confident during your interview. Make sure that you are not afraid to speak up about your experiences and accomplishments, and think of the interviewer as an opportunity to introduce yourself rather than an adversary. Taking deep breaths can also help to settle any nerves you may be feeling.
After the Interview
1. Evaluating Your Performance
It is important to reflect on your performance after your interview. This can be helpful to understand what went well and to work on areas for improvement. Evaluate your interview by thinking back on your answers, questions you asked, and overall presence. This can help you improve for future interviews and understand exactly what the interviewer was looking for.
Overall, interviews are an important step in the job search process. Understanding the company, preparing yourself by practicing answers and formulating questions, proper attire, and being courteous and confident are all key steps to a successful interview. Additionally, following up and evaluating your performance post-interview are also important steps that can help you land the job.
Interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, but with proper preparation and a positive attitude, they can be opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the role and land the perfect job.
For more interview advice and specific advice on different interview formats please click the following link:
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