Much like exams, job interviews require research and preparation beforehand in order to achieve the desired outcome. Although this can seem like an inconvenience, especially if you have recently left university and thought studying was a thing of the past, do not be deterred! Just like the work you put in for your exams, it will pay off in your search for employment.
Here are some useful hints and tips for your interview preparation:
- Research – You wouldn’t enter an exam hall without knowing what you were about to be tested on, so you shouldn’t go into an interview without researching the company thoroughly. You should always look into the company’s background (for example their profit figures from previous years, their latest product launches and the latest developments in their industry) so you can discuss this with them confidently. It is also a good idea to study the job description and person specification, then make a list of your own skills, knowledge, experiences and qualities that match what is required for the job. This will allow you to respond better to questions and you can really sell yourself to the interviewer in explaining why you’re the right candidate for the job.
- Practice Answers – A common revision technique is to write answers to questions from past papers or questions that are likely to come up. You can do the same for interviews. It is a good idea to prepare answers for common interview questions, including your strengths and weaknesses, your future career plans and why you should be hired.
- Arrive on Time – Being late for an exam can set you up for failure, the same applies for interviews. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time (at least 10 minutes), plan your route in advance and allow extra time in case of unexpected traffic jams. If you have time, do a practice run a day or two before your interview to make sure you are comfortable with the route. This will create a good impression on the interviewer, showing you to be punctual and reliable.
- Stay Calm – As with exams, it’s understandable that you may be nervous, but don’t let your nerves overwhelm you. Take deep breaths regularly throughout the interview and remember to create a positive and confident image by giving a firm handshake and sitting up straight. Try not to worry, an interview is as much for your own benefit to see if you like the company, as it is for them to decide if they like you.
- Prepare for Success – Before any exam you ensured that you had the essential equipment with you (pen and other stationery, your student card and a bottle of water). If you have an interview coming up, you should plan what essential equipment you’ll need a few days in advance. Make sure your suit is clean and crease-free, creating a smart and professional image and avoid the mad panic the morning of your interview when you can’t find a clean shirt! Just like an exam, it is important to bring a pen and paper with you into the interview, that way you can make notes when the interviewer is telling you about the opportunity, whilst portraying an enthusiastic and conscientious image.
- Sleep – Tiredness in an exam can significantly affect your results, you should also make sure you have a good night’s sleep before the day of your interview. Set the alarm and sleep comfortably in the knowledge that you are fully prepared. A well-rested mind will help keep you focused and allow you to respond to questions under pressure more quickly and confidently.
- Listen – You would listen carefully to an invigilator’s instructions and useful tips regarding an exam, likewise you should do so in an interview. Many candidates are so focused on what they are going to say, they can forget to listen properly. Consequently, the answers can be irrelevant to the question and will portray you in a negative light to the interviewer. Always listen carefully to the question being asked, and if need be take a short pause to think about the best way to answer it. This will create a far better impression of you, showing you to be succinct and switched on.
Not every interview will be a success, however by following these simple steps you can increase the chances of success by presenting a professional, prepared and confident you to the interviewer and in turn securing a job offer!