So your job hunt is moving along and you’ve just been invited for a job interview. Well done you. But now it’s time to improve your interview skills and ensure that you make a great impression on your potential employer.
So here are 6 handy tips to follow when you are preparing for your interview.
Tip 1: Do some research
There are several things you’ll need to research thoroughly before your interview – the role, the company, and the people you’re going to be meeting.
First of all, pore over the job description and consider carefully what the company is looking for in a candidate. Make a list of the skills, knowledge, and professional and personal qualities that are required by the employer and are critical for success in the job.
Next, spend at least a few hours learning everything you can about the company. Make sure you use as many sources as possible: dig deep into the company’s website and social media, read press releases and annual reports, talk to friends and contacts who know the company, and simply spend some time on Google. Learn about the organization’s products and services, areas of growth, financial performance, history, and position in the market. This information will help you understand how you will fit in and add value.
Be sure to get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Check their LinkedIn profiles so you understand their role and where they fit into the organization.
Finally, don’t forget to research the company’s culture, mission, and values – most companies are looking for candidates who fit their culture well. Review the organization’s background and mission statement so you are able to explain how your personality traits are compatible with the company’s values.
Tip 2: Prepare to emphasize how you fit with the company
When you’ve gathered the information you need about the job, go through your CV to refresh your memory on the details of your work history.
When you have done this, prepare a list of your assets that match the requirements of the role. These might include skills and abilities, personal qualities, certificates, experience, or professional qualifications. Then you’ll be ready to bring up these assets when you need to explain to your interviewer why you are a great fit for the job. You should also think of concrete examples from your past work experience that prove you have these qualities. This way, if the interviewer asks you to describe a time when you demonstrated a particular skill or ability, you’ll be ready.
Finally, make sure you think deeply about why you’re interested in this particular role, how you can help the organization achieve its goals, and why you are attracted to the company and want to work there. Remember: the most important thing to emphasize in the interview is the fit between your abilities and the requirements of the role, and between your career goals and what the organization is offering.
Tip 3: Practice the most common questions
Most interviews involve a combination of resume-based, behavioral and case-based questions. Take the time to review the most common ones (you can easily find lists of them online) and think about how you would respond.
Jot down the key points of your answers – this will ensure you cover the main points you want to mention without sounding like you are reading from a script. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you are going to say – when asked, you want your answer to come out intelligently and naturally. Try to use the terminology used in the job description to describe your competencies and experiences.
Once you’ve prepared your answers, practice being interviewed with a friend or family member. These mock interviews will allow you to practice delivering your responses and help calm your nerves before the actual interview.
Tip 4: Dress accordingly
Choosing your interview outfit is a crucial step in the preparation process. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your interview clothes are ready – plan your outfit ahead of time.
For companies that have a business or business casual dress code, keep your look basic and conservative for the first interview. Make sure you get your outfit cleaned, pressed, and tailored (a modern fit is best). Then put your outfit aside for the day of your interview and have it ready to go.
Don’t forget about the little things: shine your shoes, check for loose hems, and make sure your fingernails look manicured. Be sure that your overall appearance is neat and clean – it is important to present a positive image to the employer.
Tip 5: Have some follow-up questions
Most interviews end with “Do you have any questions?” So make sure you have some intelligent questions to ask your interviewers.
Use your previous research on the company to develop a list of questions. Your questions should be genuine, relevant, and used to clarify a previous topic or cover information not discussed during the interview. Don’t ask for information that can be found on the organization’s website.
For example, you can ask your interviewer about a challenge they’re currently facing in their role or about someone they admire in the company. “What are the opportunities for advancement?” and “What are the next steps in the hiring process?” are also common but good questions.
Tip 6: Get your head in the right place
Work out the practicalities: where you’re going, travelling times and transport options. If you can factor in more time and locate a coffee shop nearby, it will help to reduce travel anxiety on the day.
Give yourself time in the morning to review your resume and notes, and run through specific points you wish to make. It’s important that you spend most of the time before the interview reflecting on your career chronology to date rather than rehearsing questions. When you know your work history inside out, it’s much easier to find examples for just about any interview question.
Last but not least – get some sleep. There are few things that will throw you off your game like sleep deprivation.