Tips to help you prepare for your next interview
The interview is an opportunity to share information, so be prepared to ask questions as well as answer them.
Whilst it is your only chance to make a good first impression (and therefore important, to present well), also remember it is only a meeting, so no matter how much you want the job, try to relax.
Here are our tips on helping you prepare:
- Wear appropriate attire – if you’re not sure what to wear, ring and ask. If your situation doesn’t allow you to look your best, ring up and advise the interviewer beforehand. As a general rule, take extra care with your appearance. Avoid visual distractions such as loud ties, sheer fabrics, heavy jewellery and unwashed hair or hair that flops in your eyes or needs to be constantly pushed back. Both women and men should go light on the fragrance and aftershave – and don’t have a cigarette just before going to an interview or that will be your fragrance! Lastly, wear clothes that are comfortable so you are concentrating on what is being asked of you.
- Take a copy of your resume with you. The interviewer should have one, but it is better to be prepared and provide you with extra confidence in being able to refer to the detail.
- Take an original and copy of your relevant qualifications. Most employers will want to cite the originals and then to keep a copy.
- It will help your cause if you research the organisation and have a reasonable understanding of who they are and what they do.
- Act positively and appear interested, no matter how good your credentials. A nonchalant approach may be your way of exuding confidence, but it can come across like disinterest or worse still, arrogance.
- Make eye contact with the interviewer – it suggests confidence and honesty.
- Smile! Engaging comfortably with your interviewers will build rapport. Most interviewers will work hard to help you relax – as they realise that it is the best way of learning about you and bringing the best out in you.
- Have a reason for your interest in the position. Even if you are unemployed and it’s obvious you need a job, you need to articulate what attracts you to this job.
- Prepare well – you will need to offer specific examples. You will need a Situation or Task, the Action you took and the Result or outcome (often referred to as the STAR principle). We will cover specific interview questions in our next blog post.
- Understand what gives you job satisfaction and what doesn’t. And don’t simply say “I’ve always been happy in all my jobs” – think of something (eg “conditions were extremely harsh” or “the boss was very supportive”).
- Anticipate a question on weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, so understand your areas for development. Talk about something you have found difficult but are taking steps to overcome – awareness and willingness to change is a good combination.
- Know the dates of your qualifications. Some people falsify their qualifications, and not knowing doesn’t sound very convincing.
- Know your salary expectations. You will be asked for this information and you need to know your own worth. Outline your current package and your future expectations. It is often unusual for employers to ‘give away’ the salary package, which means it can be difficult for you to then know where to pitch your expectations. See our other blog posts for a guide on how to answer this question.
- Come prepared with referee names and contact details – also ensure that you have briefed your referees ahead of time and that they are prepared. Be very clear about what your referee will say about you.
- Ask questions – most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. This is the time to clarify process, benefits, timeframes, terms and conditions on offer etc. However, DO NOT ask “what is it that the Company can do for me?” Instead, you can more positively seek information by providing context, eg “I’m really interested in developing my skills further. I’m interested to know what kind of training and development programs the company offers”.
- Be late. Punctuality is important and being late, regardless of the excuse, will not help. Be clear about where you need to be and if necessary, do a practice run the day before to check how long it can take.
- Try to hide a redundancy. It doesn’t carry a stigma these days – instead, put it into perspective for the recruiter, eg “my role was made redundant as part of a major restructure within the business”.
- Just say “I’m seeking a new challenge” when asked what you want in your next role. Be specific – is it managing people, an operations focus, travel, autonomy? See our blog post on identifying your ingredients for a successful career.
- Give generic answers when asked for an example. Rather than saying, “Oh, that happens all the time and what I usually do is…”, try “Last week, my supervisor wanted me to …”.
- Waffle! If you stick to the STAR interview principle and prepare your answers ahead of time, you will know when to stop. There is nothing more irritating to an interviewer than when a candidate does not know when to stop or cannot be succinct in their answers.
Remember, the more you practice for an interview, the more confident and better your performance on the day. Good luck!