How to Prepare for an Interview
You can never be too prepared for an interview. In fact, interview preparation is one of main things that a lot of us confess to not doing enough of during our job hunt. It’s crucial that you take the time to do enough pre-interview research so that you can walk into the meeting with a winner’s mentality. But with so much to think about, preparing for an interview can be a little overwhelming. What should you say? What will you wear? Where should you even begin? There’s no need to panic; we’ve put together 8 steps that will ensure you’re perfectly prepared for your upcoming interview.
Research the company you’re interviewing for
This first step is crucial. If you want to be able to prepare for your interview, you need to know exactly who you’re preparing for. Employers love it when it becomes clear to them that an interviewee shows a keen interest in what they do; that they’ve taken time to research their brand, can provide facts when prompted, and they understand exactly what the position entails. Do a quick Google search to read up about the industry, and then browse the company’s website to find out about their position within the industry, as well as who their target market is.
Read the job specification over and over again
It’s important that you know exactly what you’re interviewing for. All too often do people walk into an interview without the relevant experience for the job. But if you enter that room equipped with an understanding of the job description, you can tailor the experiences you do have to make it relevant to the position up for grabs. Employers have set qualities that they want in an employee, but they can be flexible if you make efforts to prove that you’re the right person for the job. Consider your skills and personal qualities, as well as past duties and accomplishments.
Practise interview questions
During an interview, you know that you’re going to be asked loads of questions. That’s the whole point. So on that basis, why wouldn’t you practise answering possible interview questions? Sadly, it’d be impossible to guess the questions that an employer will ask you; some stick to a traditional format, while some try to throw you off your game with atypical questions. Nonetheless, it’s best to get into interview mode before the interview itself to give yourself the best shot at success. Take a look at our Interview Questions and Answers for a little more insight into that area.
Think about any questions that you might have
Although an interview mostly consists of the interviewer asking you questions, they will inevitably ask you whether you have any questions for them at the end of the interview. Despite knowing that it’ll come up, this final question is one that usually catches people off guard. You’ve done your research – is there any more to know? What’s actually appropriate to ask here? Don’t let panic get the better of you. You have to remember that an interview isn’t an interrogation, but a two-sided conversation. This question is the final test so that the interviewer can understand how genuinely interested you are. If you’re feeling a little stuck, you could ask them about the existing team; how many members there are? Who will you be directly working with? Ask what a typical day at the establishment could entail so that you can gain a wider understanding of what’s expected of you. You could even ask when you’re likely to hear back from them to sound keen and enthusiastic.
Clean up your social media profiles
It’s little known that employers regularly search through social media to find their interviewee’s profiles before the interview. They may even do it when they receive your CV. This allows them to form an option about you – without having met you. Your social media profiles reflect who you are as a person. That’s why it’s essential that your profile doesn’t feature any profanity, crude posts, excessive grammar and spelling errors, or wild photos. Scroll through your profile and determine which photos and posts could be deemed as questionable – then proceed to delete them. After a big clean up, decide what photo should sit as your profile picture. Go for a professional-looking headshot or a photo of your smiling, as opposed to a drunken escapade or a raunchy pose. Don’t forget to look over the ‘about’ sections on your profiles. Many of us joined social media years ago, when we were much younger. We change over the years, so our information needs to be updated to suit. How embarrassing would it be if your interviewer stumbled over a joke written by teenage you? Finally, check your privacy settings. It may be in your best interest to restrict who can see your posts.
Make sure you know where the interview is being held
If the information isn’t given to you, contact the recruitment agency or the company you’re interviewing for to find out exactly where they’re situated. Make sure you write this down in your phone or GPS navigation device – somewhere that you won’t lose it. Afterwards, it’s best to give your route a trial-run prior to the interview. One of the biggest taboos at an interview is turning up late. Practising the journey there will prevent this from happening, allowing you to plan the quickest route and decide what time you should leave your house on the day of the interview.
Plan your interview outfit
The first impression an employer will have of you is how you look. We know it shouldn’t be, but the truth is, it is. Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘dress the part’? That definitely applies here. To make a good impression, you must look professional and serious about the interview. But then there’s the fear of over-dressing at the interview. Really, there’s only one way to resolve this: do your research. Usually you can gain an understanding of the company’s vibe from their website. If they have an ‘About Us’ page or staff photos, take a little look at what they’re wearing. If they seem pretty casual, go for a smart-casual look. If they look highly professional, wear a business suit. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to stay looking smart in an interview – no matter the company. Wear layers, if possible. This means that you can remove your blazer or jacket if the room’s too warm, or leave on your outer layer if it’s a little chilly. But above all, make sure you iron your clothes and shine your shoes beforehand. Keep your makeup looking natural and style your hair as neatly as you can.
Find all the documents you’ll need to take with you
Depending on the type of job you’re interviewing for, you’ll usually need to bring a selection of documents to the interview with you. First and foremost, you should bring a copy of your CV. Your interviewer will likely already have this, but it’s best to be prepared for every eventuality. Make sure you bring it in an A4 folder or plastic sleeve to keep it looking presentable. Presenting a crumpled or torn CV is definitely not a good first impression. Blank paper and a pen could be handy if you think you’ll want to write down any notes, written references from a previous employer could be useful, and certificates or proof of qualifications could be advantageous. If you’re applying for a writing or designing job, a company will almost always ask you to bring a portfolio of your work in with you. Make sure you sort these documents in advance before your interview – they shouldn’t be rushed.
When interview day arrives, you should be prepared for success. Make sure you go to bed early the night before so that you can rest up as much as possible. Get up a little earlier than usual to make sure you eat a balanced meal before you go. Give yourself adequate time to get there, arriving a little earlier if possible. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early to show your eagerness. Most importantly, be as friendly and polite as possible. Try to come across as confident – but don’t confuse that with arrogance. Take a look at Things You Shouldn’t Do in an Interview for a little more advice here.