Preparing for an Interview

For many people a job interview can be a stressful experience. However with proper preparation you can boost both your chances of success and your own self confidence to give your best performance.

The biggest mistake many candidates make is insufficient research about the company and the position they are offering. Research is absolutely critical and should always be your first step. You will need to be prepared to answer typical questions such as “What do your know about our company”? and “Why do you want to work here?” Knowing as much as possible about the company’s past performance and future plans can make your interview more interactive and could be just the leg up you need in a competitive job market.

Initially you can start by reading the company’s website, but to get further details and information about the industry you should also check out relevant industry or trade magazines, directly Google the company name to see what comes up and even check out competitor websites to learn what they are doing as well. Don’t limit yourself to just reading either, go through the complete list of your personal contact for anyone who may have experience or expertise relating to the position or the industry. Clearly there will be time limitations as to how much research you can do but as a rule, the more the better!

Just as important as research is practice. Interviewing is a skill that can be trained and learned. So ultimately the more you practice the better you will become. You need to set your mind to why you would be the best candidate for the job and be able to explain what you can do.

You need to prepare yourself to be able to answer all the standard interview questions about yourself, your skills, ambitions, strengths etc… Especially prepare for those questions you secretly hope they don’t ask, like your lack of experience, your greatest weakness or your record of job hopping.

Once you have armed yourself with answers to all these types of questions try to practice with a friend, colleague, on video or even in front of the mirror. Anything to get you practising the language and presentation skills you need to impress in the actual interview.

Whilst the interviewer will do most of the questioning you too should also prepare questions you would like to ask him/her. These questions should reflect your research on the company and position and should never include questions whose answers are readily available in company literature or website. Do not ask about salary and benefits at this stage, these can be discussed if you make it to the latter stages of the process.

Now that you are mentally prepared what else do you need to do?

  • Make sure you know the exact location of the interview, how to get there and how much time to allow for travelling there. You should aim to arrive about 10 minutes early.
  • Make sure you know the name of the person you should be meeting for the interview.
  • Dress sharp. Appearance is important and you should dress appropriately for the job you are applying for.
  • Print an extra copy of your CV to bring to the interview with you. Also bring a notepad and pen to write down any important points.
  • Make sure you are familiar with your CV and can answer questions with out having to continuously refer back to it to check information.
  • During the interview try to remain as calm as possible. Ask for clarification if you’re not sure what’s been asked and remember that it is perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to frame your responses so you can be sure too fully answer the question.
  • At the interview’s conclusion thank the interviewer(s) and again confirm your interest in the position.
  • Follow-up. A day or two after the interview send all interviewers a thank you note again reiterating your interest and to emphasise your qualifications for the position as well as specifically what you can do for/bring to the company.