How to prepare yourself for that all-important interview
If you’re invited to the interview stage for a job vacancy, it ultimately means that the employer has seen something special in your application. It means that they’re willing to commit at least 30 minutes of their time to learning more about you, your skills and your suitability for the role in question. At this point be confident that you’re probably one of three to five people they’ve picked out from many applications, and by getting to this stage you have already demonstrated some of the attributes they are looking for in an employee.
The next stage is to prepare…
Interviewers will be able to easily identify which candidates are knowledgeable and interested in their industry sector. Use the company website, their social media channels and any external news articles or press releases to get a feel for the organisation – what they do and how they work. Take note of some of the recent work which particularly impressed you – there may be the chance to refer to this in the interview and demonstrate your interest in the company. Also find out who some of their main competitors are and make sure you’re aware of the key trends and challenges currently taking place in that market area. As well as being better prepared to answer the interviewer, this will also enable you to ask relevant and appropriate questions regarding the organisation and the job role.
2. Review and practice
Make yourself highly familiar with the original job description and the skills, knowledge, professional and personal qualities the organisation are looking for in a candidate. Then, referring to your covering letter and CV/job application, think of examples from your studies, work or personal life which you can use to demonstrate your suitability for the role. Don’t forget that the majority of other applicants will also have the required skills and knowledge, so be prepared to portray what’s different about you and what you can offer that others can’t. This is a good opportunity to show off your personality, creative flair and lateral thinking.
Practice your interview technique and rehearse potential responses to commonly asked interview questions. But don’t waste time planning exact answers – you can never predict what someone will ask in an interview. Answering with over-rehearsed responses will come across boring and monotonous and won’t allow your true personality to show through. Also get others around you to highlight some of the subconscious actions, gestures and/or signals you make which may come across negatively in a one-one-one interview situation. Knowing this will help you to be more conscious of these signals when it comes to the real interview
There is the well-known saying of “recruit for attitude, train for skills.” In other words, it’s not just about the skills and experience a candidate possesses, but rather the personality and attitude that comes across in an interview. If you’re able to portray yourself as highly motivated, enthusiastic, competent and engaged, you are much more likely to impress an interview than a candidate who is skilled but is not able to demonstrate any of these traits.
When and where is the interview? What time do you need to leave? How do you plan on getting there? These are crucial considerations that need to be taken into account as turning up late will not give the right first impression to an employer. Also bring a copy of your CV and recent examples of your work in case you need to refer to them. Make sure you know what you need to wear, and get everything ready the night before.
No matter how much you prepare for an interview, it won’t always lead to a job offer. But don’t get disheartened – it may simply be that you weren’t the right fit for the company or there was another candidate with more relevant skills for the role. Remember that each interview is practice, so take time afterwards to review how you did, what you could have done better, and how you can maximise your chances of getting the job next time round.