How to prepare for an interview
18th January 2022
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”Benjamin Franklin
Never has the old adage been more appropriate than when thinking about interviewing. Many things about the interview process have changed or evolved in response to the global pandemic, including the inclusion and often used virtual interview. However, the importance of preparation remains a vital step.
Whilst the interview is an opportunity to learn more about the role and your potential new employer, it is important to make a strong first impression.
Take a look at our helpful tips on how you can prepare for an interview and ensure that you stand out from the other applicants.
Understand The Job
Read through the job specification again and ensure you thoroughly understand any qualifications, qualities and background the employer is looking for. This will help you determine your previous experience and exactly what you wish to demonstrate in the interview.
Make notes on key points or where you have any questions about the role or company.
Look at their company website, key personnel, social media platforms and note down any relevant information to have with you for the interview. Find out about:
- Vision / Mission / Values / Purpose
- Key selling points and differentiators
- Key specialism and area of expertise
- Service offerings
- Geographical coverage
- Key milestones achieved
- Key messaging on social media / current campaigns
To help you prepare for an interview, it’s good practice to read through your CV. Do this prior to the interview and make sure you are aware of the information you have included. The interviewer will likely ask you to talk them through your CV. Decide which areas you wish to focus on and which parts can be skimmed over if less relevant to the role.
Come to the interview with some well prepared questions that demonstrate your interest and intent for the company and role. An employer will often ask if you have any questions, so make sure you have a list of about 3-5 questions (possibly more depending on the situation).
Face to Face: Plan your journey beforehand and leave plenty of time to get there early. If you are unable to demonstrate good timekeeping, you will be on the back foot for the rest of the interview. It is better to arrive early, be able to grab a coffee and mentally prepare yourself for the interview ahead.
Depending on your mode of transport, there are some great journey planner and travel apps to assist your preparation.
Telephone: Make sure you are somewhere quiet with good phone reception. Set up a space where you can focus and have a surface where you can keep any documents to hand or write notes. Make sure any other devices are on silent/do not disturb and make sure you pick up the first call.
Video: Test your camera and microphone set up before your meeting. Do a couple of test runs with the specific software being used to become familiar with the software. Often you can open the interview link early to test your camera and mic. Make sure you are in a quiet location with strong wifi signal and good lighting so you can be clearly seen. Make sure your background is suitable and you are well presented. Click the link in good time to make sure you do not miss the meeting.
First impressions are key in all walks of life, especially interviews. Ask the employer or recruiter (if you’re speaking with one) what the dress code is so you can dress appropriately. If it is face to face, be early for the meeting and enter with a firm handshake whilst maintaining eye contact throughout the interview. Non-verbal communication can be just as important as anything you say, so use confident, accessible body language. Smile frequently, maintain a good posture and stay relaxed.
If the meeting is virtual, even though you may not be able to be seen, your posture dictates a lot about how your voice is perceived. Make sure if seated, you are comfortable, and sitting upright (not slumped).
Consider your answers
Though it’s hard to know exactly what questions you’ll be asked, you can prepare for your interview by considering how you will answer. Ensure you respond truthfully, tying your answers back to any key skills and accomplishments. Keep your answers short and focused on the question you’ve been asked, to avoid rambling and going off topic.
As much as possible, avoid speaking negatively about your current or former employers/colleagues. Your new employer will be looking for a positive approach and ability to overcome challenges. Even if you’re feeling discouraged, try to explore the good things, what you’ve learned and what you’ve gained from your experience.
The final part of the interview is a great opportunity for you to close the client/sell yourself so don’t be afraid to ask how they felt the interview went. Did they have any reservations? What are the next stages? These will give you clarity and further opportunity to shut down any of their reservations.
For more helpful interview tips, and job search advice check out our other Advance Advice articles.
We have a variety of opportunities available on our job boards and a team of talented consultants to speak to on 01483 361 061.