Preparing for an interview

You can never be too prepared for a job interview. Remember! You will never have a second chance at first impressions and it is very important you make that first good impression; whether if you are the first, third, fifth or last candidate to be called in by the interviewer, making sure you stand out from the rest improves your chances of gaining a second interview and even getting that JOB!

Interviews are not easy, majority of us are nervous, mumble our words, even sweat or fidget when sitting on that seat trying to make eye contact whilst maintaining a straight back. It doesn’t matter how many jobs you have applied to and how many interviews you have attended, there will always be that pressure of getting it right.

You have what they want!

Your CV has made the cut! You obviously have impressive credentials otherwise you wouldn’t have been called in for an interview. What sets you apart from the other candidates? Now it’s your time to shine; it’s your time to back up your CV, it’s your time to expose your uniqueness.

Confidence! Confidence! Confidence!

When you have received that phone call asking you to attend an interview for that job you applied for. You have confirmed the date and time, relevant information such as location and arrangement (one-to-one, panel, group, examination/ test, presentation) of interview has been emailed to you. The next stage is to prepare!

Below is simple step-by-step guide to aid you on your journey!

RESEARCH

  1. Find out as much as you can about the Company– their history, products, financial situation, awards, charity runs and contributions etc…Employers are very impressed when you take the time out to research about the company, this shows them it is not just a job like every other job you have applied to, rather you are sincerely interested in growing and adding to their ‘empire.’ Make them feel special, this is your career too. You are boasting about their achievements and growth, feel that sense of pride to potentially being a part of that growth.
  1. Read through the Person Specification/ Job Description– prepare examples of when you have used skills relevant to the job. State your understanding and knowledge of the role in accordance to the JD and how it relates to your qualifications/ skills/ experiences. State how you will be a great asset to the company, what can you bring that will be significant from the other candidates. What can you do for the company; your achievements and how you will fill this position?
  1. Research typical Interview Questions- Google is a great help, filled with thousands and thousands of example interview questions! Write down at least 10 possible questions. Think about them. How will you answer each question? Don’t be too general with your answers, if you feel to add examples of your experiences, then by all means, add them. This will be great on the day, you won’t be rattling your head for ways to respond. Keep your composer. Your strengths and weaknesses; do you have what it takes to fulfil the JD/ Person Spec? Write down your greatest accomplishments and then list the skills you used to achieve them.
  2. Mock Interview- Interview yourself (make eye contact with yourself in the mirror), read your questions and answers out loud, record yourself or ask a friend or family member to interview you. Getting their feedback could help you greatly.

CV

  1. It is always a good idea to re-check and re-read your CV– maybe there was something you didn’t add to it that you now feel would be great to mention. You may have gaps or lots of short jobs on your CV, this is nothing to feel ashamed of, find ways of explaining your CV whilst clarifying your gaps. Update it and print out at least one copy to take with you on the day of your interview (keep your resume in a folder or small portfolio). You may be asked to explain your CV so make sure you remember what you have written. Bring a small notebook of the notes you have already made as preparation, so you can reflect back on them if you feel stuck when asked a question. You can also use the notebook to make extra notes during the interview, but keep note-taking to a minimum.
  1. References- Prepare a reference list as an addition to your CV. For each reference include:
  • Manager/ supervisor name
  • Organisation and department
  • Contact number(s)
  • Address and postcode

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

  1. Your appearance is what your interviewer(s) see before you even get a chance to talk. The moment they see you should tell them that you take great pride in your appearance.

Believe it or not, but even the interviews that say casual/informal or smart casual secretly mean wear your best clothes. Making sure there are no stains on your shoes and clothes. Your Clothes are cleaned and smell air fresh, perfectly ironed, your hair and makeup are not over the top but suitable for the workplace. If you are planning on wearing jeans to a casual interview make sure you compliment it with a smart blouse or shirt along with smart shoes (flats or heels). Short skirts and tight tops are not a wise decision! Make sure your nails look manicured, don’t forget to shave, get a haircut, and get a facial if you wish or even buy a new outfit. Do you look the part? Looking your best and smelling your best also builds your confidence.

JOURNEY PLANNER

  1. BEING EARLY and NOT on time for your interview says a great deal about your seriousness as well as your punctuality- Most interviewers will ask you to turn up 10-15 minutes prior to interview. You don’t want to look flustered and sweaty because you was late due to poor planning ahead. Plan your journey; expenses, train times, bus times, motorways and road works etc… (If you are driving). It is also useful to have live updates on roads/motorways and public transport that may affect your journey time. Leave your home early to avoid unexpected delays! Maybe do a trial run a few days before (especially if it’s to a place you are not familiar with).

INTERVIEW STAGE

  1. Your body language is also an important key- smiling, shaking hands, straight back, eye contact etc…

Making sure you’re not slouching and not finding your eyes roam around the room than making actual eye contact with the person(s) interviewing you. Moving about on your chair a lot or fiddling with the pen or papers are also distracting.

  1. Never feel when asked a question, you must answer immediately– Don’t be afraid to pause and think. Don’t rush your answers, if you need the question to be repeated, ask. No harm in that. It’s good to acknowledge that you may need more time to answer certain questions than others. If you find yourself mumbling or speaking to fast, SLOW DOWN OR PAUSE.
  1. Be sure to prepare a few questions to ask your interviewer(s) – remember that a good interview works both ways. If you have questions in regards to the company and their growth or the atmosphere, team, management, as your role who will you report to etc…what are the next steps following the interview, do they take 2 working days to give a decision? Can you contact them during, if you have any questions? If you don’t hear back from them after so does that mean you was unsuccessful? Don’t be afraid to ask such questions.

FOLLOW-UP

  1. Ideally 24 hours after the interview don’t forget to send a thank-you email to the interview(s) for giving you the opportunity to be called for an interview and how much you enjoyed meeting him/her/them and the discussions that took place during the interview. Some companies may have a protocol on who to contact so make sure you know this on the interview day.

DON’T FORGET TO GET PROPER HOURS OF SLEEP! Sleep deprivation will make you lose your focus, poor fatigue and tiredness will show on the day of the interview!

 

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