Have you considered what is important when preparing for a job interview?
60% of candidates spend as little as four hours preparing for an interview. At the same time, the top candidates spend 10 hours or more on their pre-interview preparation.
This means that if you’re in the top 12% of candidates putting serious effort into your interview preparedness, you’ll have a much higher chance of securing the role.
Why prepare for a job interview?
Preparing for a job interview can make all the difference in securing you the job or losing it to a better candidate.
As well as skills and qualifications, recruiters consider many other aspects that tell them about your personality and how well you can carry out the role.
If it's clear you’ve prepared for the role properly, recruiters will know you’re a serious candidate. A candidate who is willing to go above and beyond the basic steps is proactive and goes into situations fully prepared.
This gives a great indication of the type of employee they’ll be - ambitious, conscientious, responsible and professional.
In this blog post, we will look at all the best ways to prepare for an interview to maximise your hiring potential.
Review the job description
The first step you should take to prepare for your role is to research the role, beginning with the job description on the job posting.
What qualities, skills, qualifications, tasks, and knowledge are the recruiters looking for to apply for the role successfully?
Make a list of everything the company is looking for and think of examples and situations you’ve been in and align yourself to as many as possible. The more of the job description you can meet, the more boxes you tick in becoming the most suitable candidate for the role.
You may even be able to get some ideas of what questions will be asked in the interview based on the description in the job posting.
Look specifically at the job title and department. This may give you an idea of whether you’ll be managing, organising, working with external customers and so on.
Next, look at the tasks, duties and skills. What similar roles have you been in previously where you’ve carried out similar duties?
Research the company and their culture
It's common practice for recruiters in interviews to ask candidates what they know about the company.
Looking into the company culture not only prepares you for the company's values but also to see if the company values align with yours. Will you fit the culture? Would you be happy working for a company with its vision?
As you look to see if the company culture fits your beliefs, the recruiter will also see if you fit within their culture. They do this to minimise turnover. If an employee shares the goals and visions of an organisation, the higher their loyalty to the company.
The culture fit for employee retention not only saves the company huge amounts of recruitment costs in the long run, but there is evidence to support the performance of the company improves too!
So follow their social media pages, read through their ‘about us’ section on their website, their blog and Google search news stories to have third party references. You may even impress organisations with companies knowing that they don’t promote themselves.
What to look out for:
Go through LinkedIn or Facebook to research the company hierarchy. Who are the executives?
Check social media, company review sites such as Glassdoor or news stories to learn more about the company culture. What do their existing and past employees say about the company?
Competitors or affiliate companies:
Is the company part of a larger organisation? Do they work with other brands? Who are their competitors?
Products or services:
Knowing about the companies products and services is essential -even if you won’t be directly working with this part of the company.
Understanding the perspective from a customer's point of view and a company will enable you to have a more rounded perspective which will help you perform better in your interview.
Have you personally used the company products or services? The first-hand experience will help you understand better, but carrying out basic research is useful too.
Do you have a connection with insider knowledge? Even if you don’t, reach out to them and ask for advice, which could give you the edge over the competition. You may also be surprised how word spreads of your proactivity.
Researching the company also allows you to understand more about the company and prepare any questions about the organisation and the role of seeing if it is a right fit for you.
Practice your answers to questions
We’ve recently written a blog post on how to answer job interview questions using the STAR technique.
The STAR technique is a great way to impressively answer competency-based interview questions that will set you apart from other candidates.
But other than competency-based interview questions, your recruiter will ask a range of different questions.
These may include things like, “Tell me a little about yourself”, “Why are you the right person for the role?” and “What are your strengths?”
These are your opportunities to tell the recruiter things about you that aren’t on your CV, let them know who you are and what you’re about- but be smart about it.
Remember the list of qualities you listed from the job description? Now here is when you make connections from yourself to those qualities. Use a range of examples and experiences from your professional life and hobbies, values, upbringing, and more. This will enable the recruiter to see your hiring potential if you don’t have experience within a professional setting.
Speak naturally, and don’t over-rehearse. You want to be making a conversation between yourself and the recruiter while ensuing you hit certain touchpoints.
Put together a short pitch in your head of who you are, what you do and what you want. Therefore, any questions that they can ask about you can loosely tie into your prepared answer.
The company may also ask,” why do you want the job.”
Here is where your company researches culture, company history, products and services, and the role comes into play. Mention aspects of the company that appeal to you. How they fit your beliefs and lifestyle, how you can develop in the role etc.
Here is an opportunity for you to showcase you’ve researched and understood the requirements of the role, the company and how you have the skills, knowledge and experience to match.
Consider why you are interviewing and your qualifications
What makes you stand out from everyone else? What experience do you have that has prepared you for this role? What skills, traits, or qualifications do you have that can enable you to perform the role excellently? And importantly, what about the role interests you?
Practice Interview Etiquette
Practising how you’ll greet your employer is an important step. First impressions are strong and weigh heavily in interviews- especially if you’re applying for customer-facing roles as this will directly impact the service provided.
How to greet your interviewer
A friendly smile and a handshake is the best way to greet your interviewer. However, in the light of Covid-19, the masks and social distancing may make this difficult. Check before interviewing any guidelines and rules the company have made public regarding the social distancing and hygiene around Covid-19. You could even reach out to the administrator organising your interview and ask her what the company protocols currently are if they don’t already state automatically.
You could have a video job interview instead of a face-to-face interview. You may worry this will make first impressions more difficult but fear not as you have more control than you think. We’ve written a great guide on video interviewing, the setup and what to expect here. Take a look to help you prepare.
Body language, eye contact, listening signals and attentiveness all come into play in an interview. This also extends into your tone of voice, positivity and speaking manner.
Hold up your posture, and don’t slump. You don’t need to hold yourself like a ballet dancer. If it looks uncomfortable, it can make you come across as rigid and awkward. Sometimes mirroring the recruiter is a good technique if you aren’t sure what to do.
Make a connection with your recruiter. Look at them when they speak to you, and confidently look back when it’s your turn to speak. Looking down to the ground or at your hands will make you appear nervous or even disinterested.
There are multiple ways to show you are listening and acknowledging what the recruiter is saying. As the recruiter speaks or asks questions, you can make a small nod of your head, smile or respond with a vocal acknowledgement.
Practice your speaking voice and body
Try these techniques out with a trusted family member or friend. Ask their honest opinion on your composure and mannerisms. Practice can help you calm your nerves during an interview and give you confidence in your abilities.
Study your resume and know everything about
As well as taking a physical copy of your CV to an interview with you, you should study it fully and know everything you’ve put on there.
The recruiter may pick aspects from your CV before the interview to ask you about for your to elaborate.
Choose your outfit
Whatever you decide to wear, have it picked out and ready. You could even consider taking a backup outfit with you to the interview just in case.
I once had an interview, and as I got out of the car, my pencil skirt split on the seam! Luckily, I found some safety pins in my purse, so I somehow held my skirt together on the inside seam. But I told myself after that incident to always have a backup outfit just in case!
Plan your journey ahead of time
Get directions and plan the journey ahead of time.
Turning up late for your interview and blaming the traffic is no excuse to a recruiter—especially these days with Google Maps and the live traffic times. Traffic jams happen to everyone but can be easily avoided with planning and leaving enough time to spare.
Ensure the car has enough fuel before the day if you’re driving, or plan alternative routes if you’re taking public transport. Leave plenty of time to spare in case of any hiccups.
You can always sit in a nearby coffee shop and wait the time out if you do arrive too early.
Be sure to take all the contact information of the recruiter with you too.
Prepare your questions
An interview is a two-way process. As you try to impress the recruiter, they should also impress you if you’re a strong candidate. Use the interview as your opportunity to find out things that will be important for you.
However, never ask questions for the sake of asking questions. Wasting recruiters time for pointless questions may turn out to be negative for you.
Some useful questions to ask for yourself could be:
“Why do you enjoy working for this company?”
“What qualities do you best employees have?”
What to take with you to an interview?
- Take a portfolio of work
- A hard copy of your resume
- Your list of references
- Your personal questions
- Photo ID
- Mints and water
- Pen and notebook
- Oh and maybe some safety pins!
Taking these items with you on your interview showcases your preparedness, organisational skills and professionalism.
What is important when preparing for a job interview?
We hope you found the above tips on practising for a job interview helpful.
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See you next time!