How to Prepare for a Job Interview: The Complete Guide
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking if you aren’t comfortable with ‘selling’ yourself. But believe it or not, being skilled in interviews is something you can learn. Here's our comprehensive guide to help turn you into a master at job interviews, whether they’re virtual or in-person.
Research the employer before your interview
Pre-interview research is so important. If you’ve done your job interview preparation properly, you should be able to demonstrate your knowledge during the interview and impress your prospective employer.
Start by Googling the employer and checking out its website, social media profiles and other literature available online. You want to try and develop a solid understanding of the company’s goals and what it is trying to achieve.
This is not only to prove to the employer that you know your stuff and are serious about joining the company, but also to help you devise any questions you might want to ask.
Read your job application & CV the night before
Interviewers typically re-review your CV and application form just before they go into the interview. Some will even take it in with them. You will typically be asked a couple of questions specifically around your CV and your experience.
So it's always helpful to re-read your CV and application form just before you attend the interview. Remind yourself of the specific details you included and see if you can pre-empt any questions that might ask.
For example, you might be asked:
"You mentioned in your CV that you increased output of the operations team by 25%; what steps did you take to provide such a great improvement? can you talk us through what steps you took to achieve that improvement?"
Make a good first impression
An interviewer will make a judgement within the first few seconds of meeting you, so it’s important to make sure you make a positive first impression. But how can you make a good first impression?
A crucial part of this is dressing for success, so before the interview, you should prepare a professional-looking outfit and make sure you’re well-groomed. If you are unsure what to wear, ask the recruiter what the typical dress code is within the company. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and dress smart.
When you first meet with the interviewer, be sure to smile confidently and introduce yourself. Also, avoid being late as this not only makes a bad impression, but you also run the risk of turning up looking flustered.
Finally, being prepared. Preparation not only makes you more confident but it will also give you a chance to practice some key points that you can weave into your answers.
Prepare some answers
You won't know exactly what questions you will be asked during the interview, but that shouldn't stop you preparing some answers.
Think of 5 - 6 key points that you can then weave into whatever question they ask you.
Many interviewers will ask versions of common questions such as:
Why have you applied for this role?
Why are you leaving your current job?
Describe a time you worked well in a team.
Describe one of your biggest achievements.
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
What would you do within the first 90 days if we were to offer you this role?
Be positive! Employers are looking to hire someone with a can-do attitude that will help make a positive impact to their team.
Bad-mothing your current employer can come across very unprofessional and sends off the wrong signals. When you are asked why you are looking to leave your current job, focus more on "it's time for a new challenge" or "this opportunity just looked too good to not apply".
Have a conversation, don't just pitch
Rather than talking solidly for long periods of time, keep the interviewer engaged and have a more interactive conversation. Don't be afraid to pause to let them ask follow up questions or even ask them outright:
"Does that help explain?"
"Did that answer your question?"
End on a positive
Before you leave the interview, make sure your end on a positive note. Ask what the next steps are in the process. Let the interviewer know that you're really interested in the role and could see yourself being a really good fit at the company.
Exit with a handshake and follow up the next day via phone call or email.
Example of how to follow up:
"I just wanted to say thank you for your time yesterday, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and learning more about the team. I was wondering whether you had any questions or feedback for me following on from the interview?
I'm really excited about this opportunity and I look forward to hearing from you soon."
What if you don't get the job?
If you follow this advice then hopefully you'll be on your way to receiving that job offer! But if you aren't successful don't give up all hope.
1. Ask for feedback. Find out why they decided to hire someone else and what feedback they had for you. See if you can tweak your approach ready for your next interview.
2. Enquire about future opportunities. If it's a company you really wanted to work for, ask whether there are any other roles at that company they think you might be relevant for either now or in the future.
3. Thank them for their time. Make sure you end on a positive note. There's a chance that the other candidate might not work out, so don't burn your bridges and make sure you're at the top of their reserve list.
A company will interview on average 3 - 5 candidates per vacancy so don't be disheartened if you weren't successful this time.
Dust your self off and go again.