Preparing for an Interview
One of the common mistakes that interviewees make is lack of preparation. Having been invited for an interview it is in your best interests to ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible. Your objective is to leave the interview with a better chance of securing the job than when you went in. Yet many a position has been lost as a result of the interview. As with everything in business, a little preparation goes a long way.
1) Understand the Requirement
Gather as much information as you can about the position and read it carefully. It should be possible to define the key skills, experience and personal qualities the employer is looking for, as well as the nature of the role and the responsibilities that go with it. This information can be vital when it comes to selling yourself at interview.
2) Research the Company
A common question at the start of an interview is, “What do you know about us?” This is not idle chat. The employer will often judge your interest and commitment from the amount of knowledge you have about them. Visit the company website, pick up any news items you can, investigate new technologies they may be investing in, understand their corporate structure etc. Any information can be potentially useful to you!
3) Know Your Strengths
Consider your own skills and experience in the light of the requirement on offer and the company offering it. Implicit in this is considering your weaknesses too of course. Clearly, you want to concentrate your efforts on highlighting your strengths in the interview, whilst keeping the spotlight off the areas where you are not quite so strong.
4) Prepare Your Answers
Whilst it is not possible to correctly second guess the questions that the interviewer will ask, you can at least prepare your responses for the ones that are likely to arise, especially the tricky ones. Questions like, “Why, in your opinion, should we offer you the job?” can have even experienced interviewees in a cold sweat. Being prepared can make all the difference. Try thinking of interviews you have attended in the past and consider the questions you were asked that you found most difficult. How would you respond if you were asked those questions in this interview?
5) Have Relevant Information To Hand
Ensure that you have all the relevant information. It is always worth taking an extra copy of your CV along, but also ensure you have the interview details, directions, application forms (if appropriate), certificates etc. It could also prove useful to have a list of questions written down for that point in the interview when you’re asked “Any questions?”, for example: “What are your immediate impressions?”, “What concerns do you have at this stage?” and “What else do you need to know from me before you can make a decision?” It looks impressive when you pull out your list and it demonstrates that you have given a good deal of thought to the matter.
6) Know Where You Are Going
Interviews can be stressful enough without getting lost on the way! You may know exactly where you are going, but if not, get directions. You may even find it useful to have a dry run – knowing where to go and knowing how to get there are not necessarily the same things. Please look at our “Links” page for useful websites for planning your journey.
7) Allow Plenty Of Time For The Journey
Arriving late is a definite no-no. Even if you have a perfectly valid excuse, an interviewer may mark you down significantly for late arrival. It is customary to arrive about ten minutes before the interview is due to start, so build that into your calculations. Check for other potential hold-ups such as road works, rush hour traffic, school starting or finishing times etc. It is always better to be early and wait, than to rush in at the last minute and put yourself at a disadvantage.
8) Dress To Impress
Appearances matter. Always make the effort to look smart and businesslike. Unless informed to the contrary you should assume that business wear is the order of the day.
Avoid the temptation to wear loud colours, Mickey Mouse ties and the like. Interviewers will make judgements from the clothes you wear, so be sure to make the right impression.
9) Be Honest
Honesty really is the best policy. Avoid the temptation to over-embellish your experiences because a good interviewer will catch you out eventually.
10) Be Inquisitive
An interviewer will want you to be especially interested in the role and the company. Be prepared to ask lots of questions to demonstrate this interest. Questions about future plans of the company and the impact that will have on your own career progression are particularly useful.
11) Expect To Get The Job
Be confident and expect to be offered the job. If you have prepared adequately you should have little to worry about, and you can concentrate on making a great impression.
12) Enjoy It!
For many people an interview is terribly stressful and far from enjoyable, but don’t let that be you. A few nerves before an interview is a good thing, it helps to focus your attention and it stops you from becoming complacent or blasé. However, don’t let them take over and effect your enjoyment. The more you enjoy it, the more likely you are to make a good impression. Also bear in mind, an interview is one of the few occasions in life when you will be invited to boast about your own personal achievements at length without annoying anyone! Make the most of it and have a good time.