Preparing for a job interview can be a really tricky process, especially if you’re new to the working world. You might be feeling nervous or apprehensive and have a lot of questions about what the interview might entail. Luckily for you, this post will go over all the basics of how to prepare for a job interview, so you can go in there and make the best impression on the employer.
At a job interview, your aim is to convince a potential employer that you are the best person for the job. Show that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience and that you would fit the organisation’s culture and make a fantastic addition to the team. Demonstrate that you match the job description, and you’ll be that much closer to that offer.
It is common to have a phone or Skype interview with the employer before being invited to a face-to-face interview. This is just another part of the process, and nothing to worry about. It’s mainly just a way for the employer to find out a little more about the person behind the CV. It will usually consist of some general questions and is an opportunity for you to clarify anything that may not have been 100% clear in the job description e.g. the salary. This doesn’t mean that it should not be taken seriously though. Make sure you prepare and research the company and position beforehand so you’re not caught out at this early stage.
Do your research
The more preparation you can do before an interview, the better! One of the most important things is research. You should be thoroughly researching the company, the organisation, and the industry. Companies will be asking you questions to find out how much you’ve researched to gauge how interested you are in the role, so go through the companies website and note down anything interesting. It’s completely acceptable to bring these notes with you and use them during an interview. Find out background information and how the company operates on a day to day basis. It’s also extremely worthwhile researching the context of the company by looking more widely at the industry and how it’s developing.
Re-read the job description
Secondly, you should go through the job description with a fine tooth comb. Learn exactly what candidate the employer is looking for and what the job entails. It’s really important that you know your stuff! Also, compare your skills and experience to that of the job description. Make sure you read through your CV and cover letter, and have spare copies at hand. You should also be prepared to answer any questions about this material. It’s a good idea to start thinking up some questions; a simple Google search will bring up plenty them.
Think about what questions are likely to come up
A quick Google search will bring up a lot of example questions for you to go through. Start preparing some responses or giving thought to how to answer possible questions. Don’t plan your answers word for word as under pressure you may panic more about remembering the exact wording of your answer rather than answering the question itself. It’s really helpful to practice answering some questions with a friend or family member, or at least answering them aloud as opposed to just answering them in your head.
Questions might be CV or cover letter based, behavioural, or the interviewer may introduce some case study material to you. The important thing to remember is not to panic, the employer just wants to see how you think for a lot of them. Particularly if you’re a fresh graduate, they’ll be testing your thought process and potential to learn rather than your knowledge on a particular topic that you may not have come across before.
Keep in mind that you will almost always be asked whether you have any questions for the employer at the end of the interview. It’s really important to have at least one prepared as, again, this demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the role.
There are certain practical things that you need to do when preparing for an interview, whether that’s in person or via a phone or Skype.
- Tech – If you’re interviewing via a phone or Skype make sure you’re well set up in advance. Do a quick test to ensure you’ve got adequate signal or Wi-Fi. Voice and video tests can be done via Google Hangout. Don’t forget to dress smartly (on the bottom too!) if you’re conducting your interviewer.
- Travel –If you’re interviewing in person and have to travel to any offices, figure out how you’re going to get there and how long that’ll take. You want to aim to arrive around 15 minutes before your interview, so work backwards, and always leave more time than you need. If you have the time and means, you could even try out the journey beforehand so you know exactly what you’re doing.
- What to wear – This is always a worry that most people have, and it does depend on the company and role. As a general rule, we recommend going smart, but not overly formal. Definitely don’t wear ripped jeans or slacks as this might show you’re not that serious about the role. For more information and outfit ideas have a look at our famous interview dress guide.
- What to bring – This is down to you but we recommend always having copies of any form or document you’ve given your employer, your passport/ID, any notes you’ve made whilst preparing, and a bottle of water/personal items. Always check with the employer beforehand though! Also, always bring a notebook so you can jot down notes either during the interview or after. We always recommend writing down a brief summary of the interview for future reference. You may get called back for another interview or if you are in the fortunate position of having a few companies offering you a job, you’ll really appreciate having some form of reference.
Lastly, don’t forget non-verbal communication. Be polite, don’t interrupt, sit up straight during your interview, maintain good eye contact, and always shake the interviewer’s hand when you walk in the room. It’s also a good idea to practise verbalising your thoughts and ideas before the interview.