Fail to plan, plan to fail. Job interviewing never seems to get any easier – even when you have gone on more interviews than you can count. You are meeting new people, selling yourself and your skills, and often getting the third degree about what you know or don’t know.
Proper preparation will help alleviate some of the stress involved in job interviews and the more you prepare, the more comfortable you will be interviewing.
So if you’re counting down the days till your next job interview, these helpful hints will help you get in the right mood so you can leave a lasting impression on the interviewers…
#1 DO YOUR RESEARCH
You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company, so make sure you’ve done your homework on things like their last year’s profits and latest product launches. Nothing is as disappointing as when a candidate oozes enthusiasm and then doesn’t even know the most basic facts and figures about a company. Also take a look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence and try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions.
Here are a few places you can find some useful information:
An Online Search:
- The company’s website is the best place to start. It shows the company as it would like to be seen and the products and services they offer. You’ll get a feel for the corporate style, culture and tone of voice. Check out the annual report and look for a press or company news page.
- As you filter all this information, consider how the role you’re applying for relates to the company’s mission. You may also be able to use the site’s search facility to discover more about the person or people who will be interviewing you.
- You should spend some time looking online for any other information you can find about the company. Put their name into Google News to see if they’ve had any recent interesting stories written about them. You could also discover some information written by their current employees on what it’s like to work there.
It’s also worth searching for your own name to see what crops up – your potential employer may be doing the same thing.
- It’s not just information about the company you need – you should also have a good background knowledge of the industry so you can impress at the interview. Browse through business publications and websites to see what they are writing about your potential employer and their industry. Have a look on the newsstands at the big magazine retailers – there’s an amazing list of publications out there.
- You may find back issues of trade publications at university or public libraries, or you might be able to access them online. Some journals are even available for free or by subscription through their own websites.
- If you’re already in the same industry as your potential employer, it may be possible to discreetly ask colleagues or your suppliers if they know anything about the company you’re interested in.
#2 PRACTICE YOUR ANSWERS
Practice answering interview questions and practice your responses to the typical job interview questions and answers most employers ask. Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. Have a mock interview with a friend based on the common interview questions you’re likely to face.
You should prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job. Think of actual examples you can use to describe your skills. Providing evidence of your successes is a great way to promote your candidacy.
Also have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a few questions, some which will give you more information about the job and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.
#3 SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW
Try to relate what you know back to the job description. Sit down with your CV and make notes, just as if you were preparing for an exam. Study your work record and what you have achieved. How do you see yourself? What have you done? What ambitions do you have? Make notes and prepare and rehearse sound bites about yourself. Do this out loud, even if it makes you feel weird.
When discussing your career accomplishments match them to what the company is looking for. It will make it clear to the interviewer why they should hire you.
Remember, one of the most common interview questions is “Tell me about yourself.” Prepare a balanced and succinct answer to this question, not a life history. Keep it businesslike and don’t stray into personal feelings or family relationships. Avoid anything to do with politics or religion like the plague. Interviewers use this question to learn about your personal qualities, not your achievements – they should already have those from your CV.
#4 BE PREPARED & GET READY
Good preparation is the key to staying in control. This is the bit most people forget to give enough time to, so don’t get caught out. Just like when you’re going into an exam, feel confident that you can field any question they throw at you, and try to feel as good about yourself as you can. It shines through.
Here are a few top tips:
- Appearance: This shouldn’t matter, but the plain fact is that you are often judged before you’ve even uttered a word. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed. If you look good, you tend to feel good too. Avoid any last minute panic by preparing what you’re going to wear the night before.
- Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview. Being on time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there, allowing extra time for any unexpected delays.
- Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. If you are asked to bring certificates, references, etc, get them ready well in advance to avoid having to chase around on the morning of the big day. Bring a nice portfolio with copies of your resume. Include a pen and paper for note taking.
- Don’t go into the interview with lots of baggage – psychological or physical. Take the bare minimum with you so you can concentrate on the interview, and nothing else.
- It may sound patronising, but make sure you use the toilet before you go in – you don’t want to be bursting to go when you’re mid-interview.
#5 BE CONFIDENT & STAY CALM
During the job interview try to relax and stay as calm possible. Take a moment to regroup. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question! Remember to speak clearly, smile and remember that your interviewers are just normal people, and they may be nervous too!