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Preparing For An Interview

27 May 2019
Gordon Johnstone

preparing for an interview

We’ve written some in-depth guides to making sure you ace your next job interview; whether that’s a competency-based face to face interview or one held over video. The key to interview success doesn’t start on the day of the interview, however. Well in advance of your meeting you should be preparing yourself and making sure you give the best possible first impression. Harvard studies have shown that 55% of a first impression is non-verbal; it’s about how you present yourself, your outfit, your stance, handshake, eye contact, and so on. All of these are improved with confidence and confidence comes from preparation.

Research

Walking into an interview without having done your research is a sure-fire way of making sure you don’t get the job. A lack of preparation will permeate every answer, your demeanour, and ultimately will demonstrate a lack of professionalism. If you don’t come across like you’re taking the job seriously you’ll be sunk before you’ve even started.

First thing’s first – research. For any job interview at whatever level, you’ll be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the company you’re interviewing for. To begin with;

  • Scour the company website for useful information and statistics;

-Download any annual reports they’ve shared, sign up to their mailing lists, make notes of any values, goals and ambitions they have.

  • Follow the company across social media

-Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – whatever they use, make sure you’re familiar with it and explore what they have been doing recently. Any social or CSR events could be useful to drop into the conversation later if you start discussing the dynamics and ethos of the workplace.

  • Do a Google News search of the company and find out if they have hit any significant milestones, achievements, or issues recently. This can help to inform your answers and give you a well-rounded knowledge of the people you’re speaking to.

For the majority of interviews it is perfectly acceptable to have notes to refer to throughout – you should take advantage of this. Rather than spending valuable preparation time memorising statistics and dates, just make sure you have them easily accessible in your notes and instead focus on perfecting your STAR technique answers.

Planning

Life is unpredictable. Sod’s Law dictates that if life is going to be particularly unpredictable at any point it’s likely to be the day you’ve got an important job interview, so the best thing you can do is plan as much as you can in advance and mitigate anything that can go wrong.

Plan your transport and your route in advance; whether you’re driving, walking, or taking public transport. Ensure you leave yourself more than enough time to get to the interview location and take into consideration any possible congestion or special events that might affect journey times.

It’s very important to plan your outfit in advance. The last thing you want is to be running around on the morning of your interview trying to find something clean and professional to wear. Make sure everything is washed and ironed in advance and keep the outfit somewhere safe and clean. Have a lint roller handy to catch any stray hairs or dust before you leave your house. You shouldn’t be doing any preparation on the morning of your interview; if you’ve planned everything in advance you can use the morning to have a good breakfast, relax, and get in the right headspace to answer questions.

Make sure your notes are well-written and organised – not to mention legible! It’s a good idea to have a printed copy of your CV and cover letter with you for reference (and, if possible, any application forms you completed for the position) as you don’t want to get caught out by anything you may have written and promptly forgotten about.  

Practice

As with any skill in life, you get better at interviews through practice. There’s a fine line between being adequately prepared and being overly rehearsed, however. An interview is an opportunity to not only demonstrate your skills and experience, but to convince the interviewer that you are the right cultural and personality fit for the job. It is important come across well without sounding robotic or like you’re reading off a script, but also giving insightful, interesting answers to the questions.

If you’re doing a video interview (which 45% of companies use), we recommend filming yourself answering some standard questions to make sure you’re enunciating and articulating yourself properly. You can use this for normal interviews too, but most people tend to act more naturally when talking to people in “real life”. Your recruitment consultant will be happy to run through some practice questions with you as well to make sure you’re hitting all the right points. Don’t forget your STAR technique! It’s also worth practicing your eye contact and handshake, especially if they don’t come naturally to you. Small details like this can make or break the impression you make with an interviewer.

Interviews can be daunting but preparing yourself in advance plays a massive part in easing your nerves and making you seem like the ideal candidate. You want to leave an interview having convinced the employer that you’re the only logical choice for the position. Our advice is based on decades of experience and our consultants are always happy to share their knowledge – give us a call or drop us an email to find out how we can help you land your dream job.

 

Author

Gordon Johnstone
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