Preparing for an Interview
Preparing for an interview will better equip you for what the interviewer might throw at you and can help to make you feel more confident about this nerve-racking experience. Take the time to do some research and to understand the role and the company that you are applying for. Getting in some practice being interviewed can help you feel less stressed on the day.
Interviews don't need to be dreaded experiences; approached with confidence you will hopefully come away having enjoyed the opportunity to sell yourself as well as discovering more about the particular job opportunity. Here are some tips for preparing for an interview:
Do Your Homework
- Find out about the company: their goals, industry, function, history
- Find out about the role
- Find out who will be interviewing you: an interview with HR will be very different from an interview with your potential manager
- If you are applying via an agency, ask them for advice as they may know the person interviewing you
- Think of some good questions to ask, and write them down in a notepad that you can take to the interview
Understand the Role in Detail
- How does your experience relate to the role in question?
- What skills do you have that would be very helpful in the role?
- What unique qualities do you have that make you an outstanding candidate?
- Be realistic: are their any gaps between the skills required and your abilities? How will you cover this if asked?
- Why do you want this job?
Practice Your Interview
- Ask a friend to help you and practice being interviewed
- Consider some questions that you might be asked
- Practice answering them
- Get feedback from your friend: not just on your answers but on your behaviour as well. Did you come across confidently?
- Consider some very general questions: what are your strengths, weaknesses, interests?
- Practice difficult questions as well: try to find positive ways to answer all questions
- Practice being patient and answering questions confidently without sounding arrogant
Check Your Appearance
- Find out what is appropriate dress code at the company
- If you are unsure, go for professional attire. If you are a man, usually a suit is appropriate. For a woman, dress smartly and modestly
- It’s better to over-dress than to under-dress
- Don’t forget the finer details such as haircut, shiny shoes, and clean nails
- Perfume and aftershave is fine, but not make sure it isn't overpowering
- Interviews are not the time to make a statement (although this may depend on the type of role you are applying for!)
Check the Details
- Make sure you’ve got the right date!
- Find the location well before the interview date
- Work out how long you will need to get there
- Allow ample time
- Investigate the parking situation; you may need to book a parking space
- Make a note of the name and title of the person interviewing you
- If you need to bring along any paperwork, check you have everything in order
- Bring along a copy of Your CV
- If you are bringing along a portfolio, have it ready well before time
- If you need to use a computer during the interview, have a back-up plan if it doesn't work
- Bring along your notepad with questions: it’s fine to refer to it during your interview
Everyone has nerves during an interview, it’s to be expected and most people on the other side of the desk understand the stress of the situation. Most importantly be relaxed and be yourself. Humour is important in such situations (though try to avoid a nervous laugh) and a firm handshake and pleasant smile will ensure a good start. If you’ve prepared, you are a step ahead so be confident!