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How to Prepare for a Job Interview: Tips for Making a Great First Impression

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How to Prepare for a Job Interview: Tips for Making a Great First Impression

Here at Forward Role, we’ve helped countless candidates find their dream job and have supported them right up to the dreaded interview stage. That’s why we know first-hand what it takes to be successful – and what can ruin your chances of landing the perfect role.

If you’re impressed with your CV, it all comes down to the interview stage, which can be daunting, especially for those new to the job market. Whether you’re looking to take the first step onto the ladder or you’re interested in switching roles, we’re sharing our expert advice on how to prepare for an interview and increase your chances of securing the job. 

Understanding the different types of interviews

Job interviews come in various formats, so it's essential to understand which type you’ll be facing so you can prepare effectively. Here are the most common types of job interviews:

  • Group – In a group interview, multiple candidates are assessed together, usually with a panel of interviewers. They can be used to evaluate how candidates interact with each other and how they handle group dynamics.

  • Panel – In a panel interview, you’ll face a group of interviewers who will ask you a series of questions. The interviewers may come from different departments or levels within the company, and each may have a different perspective on the job role.

  • Assessment centre – In an assessment centre interview, you’ll be put through a series of tests and exercises to evaluate your skills, competencies, and suitability for the role. They may also include group tasks, role-plays, and presentations.

  • Face-to-face – This is the most traditional interview format where you’ll meet the interviewer in person. It allows for more personal interaction and gives you the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the work environment.

  • Phone or video – Phone or video interviews are becoming more common, especially in today's remote work environment. They’re typically used to screen candidates before an in-person interview. Learn more about virtual interviews here.

Once you know what’s expected of you on the day, you can start to prepare and work on making the best impression possible.

How to prepare for a job interview

  1. Research the company and the role

The first step is to thoroughly research the company you’re applying for and the role on offer. This will help give you a deeper understanding of the company culture, values, mission, and specific job requirements.

This might involve reviewing the business’s website, social media presence, and blog. By doing so, you can learn more about their history, products, and services – which you might get asked about in your interview, so it’s best to study these beforehand.

Looking into the specific role means you can learn about the job's day-to-day responsibilities, the skills and qualifications required for the position, and the career opportunities it offers. You might also want to understand how the position fits within the broader company structure.

By conducting thorough research, you can gain a competitive advantage in the job interview process, helping you to ask intelligent questions and show your enthusiasm.

  1. Practice common interview questions

Often, interview questions can be broadly categorised into four types:

Competency-based questions – These aim to assess your ability to perform specific tasks and duties.

Examples of competency-based questions could be:

  • Can you describe a marketing campaign you led from start to finish?

  • What steps have you taken to increase brand awareness for a company?

  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to develop a targeted marketing strategy for a specific audience?

Strengths-based questions – These questions review your personal qualities and character strengths that make you a good fit for the job and company.

For instance, strengths-based questions might include:

  • What are your strongest marketing skills and how have you applied them in your previous roles?

  • Can you describe a time when your creative thinking helped you develop a successful marketing campaign?

  • How do your personal qualities align with the requirements of this marketing role?

Technical questions – Technical questions are specific to the job or industry and aim to assess your technical knowledge and expertise. These questions are common in science, IT, engineering, finance, and law-based roles.

You may be asked technical questions like:

  • What metrics do you use to measure the success of a marketing campaign?

  • Can you explain your experience using marketing automation software?

  • What is your experience with A/B testing and how have you applied it in previous marketing roles?

Behavioural questions – These questions assess how you've responded to specific situations in the past and how you may respond in the future. 

Behavioural questions include:

  • Can you describe a time when you had to adjust a marketing campaign strategy due to unexpected results?

  • How do you stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and incorporate them into your work?

  • Can you describe a time when you had to work with a difficult client or stakeholder and how you handled the situation?

  1. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

At the end of the interview, the interviewer will likely ask if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to have a few questions prepared to demonstrate your interest in the position. Asking thoughtful questions can also provide valuable information to help you make an informed decision if you receive a job offer. 

Not only that, but it also means that you can find out more about the company and the role, like whether it aligns with your personal career goals and aspirations.

Some tips for preparing questions to ask the interviewer are:

  • Research the company – When doing preliminary research about the company, think about what you’d like to know more about that isn’t displayed on the business’s website or social media channels.

  • Ask about the company culture – Inquiring about the company culture can give you insight into the work environment, management style, and team dynamics. You might want to ask questions like: "How would you describe the company culture?" or "What are the core values that guide the company?".

  • Ask about the job responsibilities – Asking about the specific duties of the role you’re applying for can help you to gain further insight into its day-to-day tasks and requirements.

  • Ask about career growth opportunities – Inquiring about career growth opportunities can show your long-term commitment to the company. Consider enquiring about what growth or training programs are available. 

  • Ask about the next steps in the hiring process – Querying the next steps in the hiring process can give you an idea of the timeline and what to expect after the interview.

For specific examples on what you could ask, take a look at our guide to eight great questions to raise in an interview.

  1. Dress professionally

How you dress can convey your professionalism, attention to detail, and respect for the company and the interviewer. Here are some tips to help you dress appropriately for a job interview:

  • Research the company dress code – Before the interview, research the company's dress code. You can check their website or social media accounts to get an idea of the company culture and dress expectations. If in doubt, it's better to err on the side of caution and dress more formally.

  • Dress comfortably – It's essential to feel comfortable in what you're wearing, as this can affect your confidence during the interview.

  • Plan ahead – Lay out your outfit the night before to ensure everything is clean, ironed, and ready to wear. This will help reduce stress and give you time to make any last-minute adjustments if necessary.

  1. Tips for the actual interview

Preparing for a job interview involves more than dressing appropriately and practising interview questions. Here are some tips to help you navigate the interview process itself and make a great impression:

  • Be prepared for lateness – Make sure you know who to contact if you're running late. This will show that you respect the interviewer's time and are responsible.

  • Turn off your phone – Turn off your phone or put it on silent during the interview. This helps avoid any distractions and shows that you're fully engaged in the conversation.

  • Listen carefully – Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions and respond thoughtfully and clearly. Make sure you understand the question before answering and take a moment to gather your thoughts if necessary.

  • Think about your body language – Nonverbal communication is just as important as what you say. Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and avoid fidgeting or slouching. This can convey confidence and professionalism.

  • Use the correct language and tone – It's important to be polite and use the appropriate language and tone for a formal situation. Try not to use slang or informal language and aim to match the interviewer's level of formality.

  • Use the STAR method – When answering questions about your skills and experience, use the STAR method to structure your responses. This involves describing the situation, task, action, and result to provide a clear and concise answer.

  • Be positive and show what you've learned – Even if you've faced difficult situations in the past, try to remain positive and show what you've learned from these experiences. This can prove your resilience and ability to learn and grow.

  • Be honest and assertive – It's crucial to be honest and assertive in your responses while also being respectful and diplomatic. This can help to build trust and credibility with the interviewer.

  1. Follow up after

After the interview, follow up with the interviewer to thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. Here are some tips for following up effectively:

  • Send a thank-you message – Within 24 hours of the interview, send a thank-you email to the interviewer expressing your appreciation for their time and the opportunity to learn more about the role. Use it as an opportunity to reaffirm your interest in the position and your enthusiasm for the company. This can help keep you in mind with the interviewer and demonstrate your commitment to the role.

  • Address any outstanding questions – If any questions or concerns came up during the interview that you could not address at the time, use the thank-you note as an opportunity to provide additional information or clarification.

  • Follow up on next steps – If the interviewer provided you with a timeline or next steps for the hiring process, follow up on these as appropriate. This can help to keep you informed and engaged in the process.

After the interview

Sometimes, the interview may not be the final stage of the hiring process and you may be asked to complete a task or attend a final-stage interview. Or, your initial interview may just be the deciding factor for your prospective company. If this is the case, here’s how to handle the next steps afterwards:

  • Accepting the job – If you’ve made a great impression and your interviewer decides to offer you the role – congratulations! Let them know you’re happy to accept the position and confirm when you can start. For more advice on joining a new business, take a look at our top tips for starting a job successfully or how to overcome new job fears guide.

  • Turning the job down – If you completed the interview stage for multiple roles and are offered more than one opportunity, you will likely have to turn one down. Or, you might’ve decided that a position wasn’t quite right for you. Whatever the reason, politely turn down the offer and let your interviewer know your reasoning. Being honest and sincere may work in your favour if a chance to work with them arises in the future.

  • If you’re not successful –  If you haven’t been successful, always ask for feedback on your interview so you can learn for next time. Don’t be disheartened; take it as an opportunity to grow and build your experience. Read our guide on how to handle rejection for more advice.

Secure your next job with Forward Role

Preparing for a job interview can be nerve-wracking, but with the proper preparation, you can increase your chances of securing the job. For more advice and insights on how to succeed in your career, read our blog. 

At Forward Role, we have the expertise to match top-quality candidates with market-leading digital and tech businesses throughout the UK.