Preparing for your Job Interview
Published: 07 Aug 2014 By Corinne Mills, Personal Career Management
In our blog this week she offers her tips on how to prepare for your forthcoming interview...
Your CV has been shortlisted and you’ve been invited to an interview.You should feel reasonably confident about your chances. After all there’s no point in them inviting you in unless they think you are a genuine potential contender for the job. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just turn up and hope they like you. On the contrary, lack of preparation can scupper the chances of even the most talented of candidates.
So, if you're unsure about what preparation you should be doing – here are some tips:
1. Interview Logistics
From a practical point of view, it is important to be clear about what to expect on the day. So check the following with the employer or agency:
- What type of interview it is likely to be (e.g. one to one, panel)?
- Will there be subsequent interviews or tests?
- Will you be shown around the department, meet potential colleagues etc?
- How will you get there? Check beforehand if parking is available if you need it.
2. Who are you trying to impress?
- Find out their names and job title and then check out their profile on Linkedin and any other information you can find out about them online. Knowing their background, career history and what they look like means that they will feel less like strangers when you do meet and this can give you a psychological advantage.
- On an interview panel, each member is likely to have a different perspective on who constitutes an ideal candidate. This will depend on their relationship with the post-holder as well as their own professional focus. For instance a Finance Director may be keen to assess the commercial acumen of the candidates, whereas a Technical Director will be keen to test their knowledge of the product or service and their technical awareness.
Try to anticipate their needs and concerns and think about what information you could share that would reassure them.
3. Research the Company
You need to conduct extensive research on the company before you go for the interview. This will help you talk more knowledgably about why you think you are a good fit for the company, demonstrate your keen interest in the job as well as your professionalism and diligence
Look beyond just the company website to find out other information such as press and PR pieces, information about new product launches, shareholder reports, financial information. Try to talk to people who have either worked for or with the organisation in some capacity.
Your research should include:
- Statistics – company size, turnover, market share, key people, etc
- Key products and services and target customers
- Who are its competitors and how do they compare?
- What are the likely challenges and opportunities ahead?
- What it’s like to work there?
Make notes of your findings so that you can impress at the interview by quoting relevant facts and figures and showing you understand the organisation’s priorities and challenges.
4. Prove your suitability
You should have the job advert, a job description and a copy of the selection criteria they are using to assess candidates. If you haven’t got these, then it’s worth asking if they’re available as they may just have forgotten to give it to you.
Go through all of the job details and consider your wider research to anticipate the kind of questions they will be asking at the interview to ascertain your suitability. You will need to prove your capabilities for every single aspect of their selection criteria so you must prepare a number of stories that illustrate the relevant abilities clearly. Wherever possible choose positive stories that show how you have “added value” to a company e.g. increased profitability, improved quality, resolved problems etc as this will help you sound like a high performing employee.
5. Anticipate tricky questions
Where you think they may be looking for something that you don’t have, then don’t ignore it and hope for the best. Be proactive in thinking about how you might close the gap or perhaps minimise its importance. Perhaps you can read up on the area in question, investigate courses, arrange relevant work experience etc. You must have an answer ready to convince them that the gap is not an issue.
Prepare answers to those particularly tricky questions such as why you left your last job to make sure that they come across positively. Steer clear of talking about anything that is negative or critical about previous employers or roles.
6. Practice out loud
It’s very important to practice your interview answers out loud before you get to the interview. Most candidates tend to waffle so answers that are succinct and well-crafted will be a welcome relief for the interviewers and make you stand out positively by comparison.
Wherever possible, try a mock interview beforehand with a career coach, or trusted friend so that you can get some objective feedback on your answers and body language to ensure that they are consistent with the messages that you want to convey.
7. How much time should I spend on preparation?
Expect to spend several hours, researching and rehearsing for your interview. It signals to an employer that you genuinely want the job and the level of professionalism you are likely to bring to the job if appointed.
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