Similar to exams, job interviews can cause you to feel nervous and anxious as the big day approaches. You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so preparation is critical if you want to boost your confidence and stand out from the pack. Thankfully, interview preparation is not complicated. If you’re low on time and have less than a day to get ready, you can still make a lasting impression by putting into practice the following easy to follow steps.
1) Research the company
This may seem really obvious, but it’s surprising how many candidates do little to no research about the company they’re meeting. Before you go to a job interview, it’s essential to find out as much as you can not only about the job, but also about the company. This research will enable you to be fully prepared for any questions you’re asked about the company at the interview, as well as frame the questions you want to ask the panel. You will also be able to find out whether the company’s culture is a good fit for you through this research.
The first place to start is the company website, specifically the “Team” and “About Us” pages which will give you insights into the values of the company, how it compares to other organizations and who the key stakeholders are. It’s also worth taking a look at the Glassdoor profile of the company to read reviews from past and current employees to understand the positives and negatives of working there. Once you have knowledge of the company’s industry, mission, and culture, you should be able to write a few questions that will help demonstrate that you have up to date knowledge of the company, and not someone who just glanced at the job specification.
2) Study the job description
Everything you say during the interview needs to be tied back to the responsibilities you will be expected to fulfill in the role. The interview panel has a particular type of candidate in mind, so if you can reassure them that your experience is relevant to the position, that will make them feel more confident in your abilities.
Understanding the role will also allow you to ask meaningful questions during the interview and will give you a fair idea of how your work day will be structured and what demands will be placed on you by management. If you need clarification about anything, then ask questions towards the end of the interview so you can feel confident you have all of the information required if a job offer is made following the interview process.
3) Prepare answers to commonly asked questions
While there are potentially hundreds of questions you may be asked during an interview, in most cases, the majority of companies will stick to the same questions. You may be asked random questions that you may not expect, but if you can answer these commonly asked questions, you will be well on your way to interview success:
- Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into ‘X’ industry?
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- What has led you to apply for this job?
- If you were offered this job, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Tell us about a time you failed and how you responded to it.
- How do you manage your time?
- What do you know about this company?
Ask a family member or friend if they’d be happy to conduct a mock interview with you ahead of time. Try to conduct the interview in the same format as the real interview, so if for example, it’s a panel interview, a couple of friends could pretend to be on a panel with each taking turns to ask questions. For a phone interview, ask a friend to call you as it will allow you to practice answering questions over the phone.
4) Prepare Concluding Questions
Typically, at the end of an interview, it is common for an interview panel to ask a candidate if they have any questions. It is an opportunity for you to learn more about the role and company, while also demonstrating whether you were paying attention throughout the interview. You may have questions come to you at the moment, but to prevent moments of silence, it’s a good idea if you have some questions pre-prepared. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions asked by candidates at interviews:
- If I’m successful, who will I be working alongside?
- What is a typical working day for ‘X’ role?
- What is your favorite part about working for ‘X’ company?
- How do you see this position/department changing over the next 5 years?
- What is the most essential skill needed to be a good fit for this role?
5) Don’t leave anything until the last minute
Having an interview outfit ready ahead of time is essential. First impressions are critical as you don’t get a second chance to make one. The last thing you need on the morning of an interview is the feeling of panic when you find nothing suitable to wear in your closet and have to settle for clothes that are uncomfortable and poorly fitted. After you choose your outfit, make sure it is cleaned, pressed, and that you have the appropriate shoes and accessories to go with it. If you haven’t been to an interview in some time, try the outfit on ahead of time to see if it still fits you and makes you feel confident.
Before the day of the interview, you should have your journey mapped out so that it’s less likely you’ll be late and stressed. Being late is one of the worst things you can do as it immediately tells the interview panel that you’re bad with timekeeping. If you need to take public transport to get there, use Google Maps or ‘Hit The Road’ to get directions if you’re not sure of where you are going. There’s no harm in arriving at the location of the interview early as you can relax at a nearby coffee shop before it’s time to make your way to the company’s office for the interview.