An interview is an opportunity to showcase your skills and experience, and convince the interviewer that you are exactly what the company is looking for. However, depending on how you present yourself and answer the questions prepared for by the interviewer, it can either make or break your chances of landing the job.
We outline 7 preparation techniques that will leave you ready to tackle that crucial first interview!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW: 7 TOP TIPS
When it comes to job interviews, the old adage rings true: you don’t get a second chance to make that critical first impression, so follow our 7 tips and be prepared to make it an interview they will remember for all the right reasons.
1. BE RESEARCH-READY
You would be amazed by the amount of both junior and senior candidates who fail to conduct proper research before an interview. Research the company, the sector and their competitors thoroughly. A look over the organisation’s website and a quick search on Google simply isn’t enough “ the interviewer will want to see that you researched history, market share, products, portfolio, mergers, takeovers, and existing and potential competitors.
Look for current and past employees on LinkedIn. Get a feel for career progressions. A little time and thought will show you what skills the company values, its areas of growth, and why employees come and go. Companies are a collection of individuals and each individual has a story to tell. Research the person(s) who will interview you; how will you know ahead of time who will interview you? Ask. Think about how you can establish a rapport and connection with the interviewer.
2. INTERROGATE THE JOB SPECIFICATION
With it as your guidebook, map out your core skills so that they meet each requirement. The interviewer will have a weighing scale for each requirement and will be marking your answers.
Choose a strong example for each competency listed on the specification and memorise it. At the right moment, drill into it quickly and efficiently, making sure to state the commercial relevance of your example and the positive impact your contribution made.
The importance of emphasising the job specification thoroughly cannot be stressed enough. Mapping out your core skills and ensuring that they align and fit with the requirements of the role is no easy task no matter how much one knows themselves.
It takes honest assessment to be able to admit that one possesses a skill and attitude the job requires. Once you do, memorise the example so that you can explain how you can benefit your potential employer when the opportunity arises during the interview.
3. BE METRIC PREPARED
Know your own CV inside out and how directly your current/past experiences correlate to what the company is looking for. Have well prepared stats on your previous wins in relevant roles.
When considering how to prepare for an interview, prepare for competency and technical-based questions along with the chance of odd questions: for example, some companies tend to use a lot of unusual questions, designed to analyse your train of thought or problem-solving capabilities. Take your time when answering questions to ensure you are composed and able to give the best responses.
4. ON THE DAY, DRESS TO SUIT
It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t dress with the appropriate level of formality. The interviewer is looking for someone who will be able to represent the organisation professionally, so dress accordingly! If in doubt, go with formal professional attire.
When choosing what to wear, consider the company culture and dress code. Well-fitting, casual attire may also be appropriate for a non-C level or managerial role. Some industries such as finance or law may require a more formal dress code.
Your outfit should be clean but comfortable. Limit accessories and jewellery to a minimum.
5. DON’T OVERPOWER THEM
That aftershave or perfume you love might be the one they can’t stand. Avoid wearing any strong smells or scents, and definitely don’t smoke beforehand.
6. ARRIVE EARLY
Ideally, arrive fifteen minutes early so you have time to settle yourself, check your notes etc. Arriving early shows that you are punctual and reliable and that you take the interview very seriously. It demonstrates professionalism overall which is a plus.
It is a clear display of your time management skills and that you are someone who can plan and organise your schedule effectively.
Arriving early also gives you an opportunity to observe the company. It helps you observe how employees interact with one another and see parts of the office environment as well.
However, don’t be any earlier than 15 minutes, as it might make the interviewer feel pressured and throw their day off course. Interviewers allocate specific amounts of time for each meeting, so be ready, and be on time.
7. PREPARE YOUR OWN QUESTIONS
Prepare thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer about the company and the role you are applying for. Doing this sends a strong message to the interviewer that you are truly interested in the job and that you have taken the initiative to learn more about the company.
Asking questions not only demonstrates your interest in the company but helps you make an informed decision about whether the company and the role you are applying for are the right fit for you.
Asking questions can give you valuable insights into the company’s priorities and goals. As a job seeker, it is very important that you know how the company operates and where it is headed.
Your goals and values should also align with your career goals. This is supported by research done by Qualtrics, which showed that 56% of job seeker respondents won't consider a job if the company's values disagree with theirs.
Additionally, asking questions can help you stand out from other candidates. Those who ask thoughtful questions leave a lasting impression among hiring managers and this could increase your chances of being remembered positively.
For our advice on how to conduct yourself during the interview, read How to Ace Your Job Interview.