Interview Top Tip 1: Use the job description as your number one preparation tool.
This will be what the employers will be assessing you against, to gauge whether you’d be able to do the job and fit into the company.
Remember to save a job description or advert when you apply but if the worst comes to the worst and you can’t lay your hands on it, approach the company and ask for a copy to be emailed to you.
Interview Top tip 2: Research the company
Companies like to know you are prepared as it indicates you care about the outcome of the interview and the company. Additionally any research you do might highlight some questions you want to ask about the company itself, you don’t need to just ask about the role. Remember that you will need to spend around 40 hours+ a week at work – this is also your opportunity to get to know whether it’s the company for you, if you haven’t done it already.
Interview Top tip 3: Know what you are going into.
If you are prepared for what type of interview you are going for, you are less likely to be surprised and thrown off.
- Panel – This is the most common type of interview, where you are interviewed by more than one person.
- Technical –Tests your technical knowledge through specific questions
- Portfolio – This is where you showcase previous work and a panel or interviewer will ask you specific questions related to your portfolio.
- Telephone – Standard interview questions over the phone. This normally preludes a physical interview
- Video – Some companies may offer a video interview. For specific video interview tips – see this post
- Assessment centre – This tends to be a longer session with different tasks to complete alongside an interview. These tasks might be undertaken individually, such as a competency test, or within a group of other candidates/team members
Interview Top tip 4: Prepare the basics and logistic – Outfit, travel, documents
Even if the company has a relaxed dress code, during an interview it is always best to dress smartly.
Dress to impress. You want to look smart, think smart and be smart.
- Does your outfit/suit need dry-cleaning?
- Plan your route to the interview, how long does it take? Ideally you want to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early – but no earlier. Being late will give a terrible impression unless, in uncontrollable circumstances (e.g. accident blocking the route) you make your best effort to let the company know what is going on and if you will be late. Be prepared that the organisation may not be able to accommodate you, if you don’t make the agreed appointment time.
- Print off your CV and organise any other documents you need to bring with you such as your ID.
Interview Top tip 5: Prepare for interview questions by planning some examples and answers
Firstly, consider your strengths and weaknesses for the role against the Job Description and Person Specification. What about your application do you think appealed to the employer? When you think about any examples of your work/skills or experience, any facts and figures can really support your answer. So you increased sales, but by how much?
Have a look at some example interview questions and plan out your answers, practice them so you can get your head round which examples you want to come across. It is best not to be totally scripted as you will need to adapt your best examples to different questions or angles.
Interview Top tip 6: Don’t rush a presentation
If you are asked to do a task or make a presentation, take your time. If you are presenting, make plenty of time to create and practise it. Find out what technology is available – computer, projector, connectors, wifi etc. You do not want to turn up with a PowerPoint presentation if there is no computer to use. Keep a close eye on time limits.
Interview Top tip 7: Make a good impression with body language
- Smile and make eye contact with everyone in the room - connecting with the interviewers is important for building rapport and team fit.
- Shake hands firmly but not too firmly. Try to match the persons own handshake in firmness.
- Keep your body language open but still appropriate.
Interview Top tip 8: Relax and take your time
During the interview, try to relax as much as possible. Concentrate on taking a few seconds before you answer to select your best example and consider what you want to get across. Be comfortable about asking the interviewer to repeat the question. It is much better to do this than rush into a response that doesn’t actually answer the question.
Interview Top tip 9: Get some feedback
Most employers are willing to offer feedback and this feedback can help you learn what went well and what you could improve upon. Even if you are offered the job, interview feedback can still be useful information for the future.
Interview Top tip 10: Be positive!
You got shortlisted, which is an achievement in itself. They chose you for interview because they think you can do the job - make sure you follow through with a positive attitude. And if you don’t get the job, it’s not meant to be this time – bounce back, focus in and move onto the next opportunity.