You only get one chance to make a first impression. No matter how many qualifications you have or how well your experience matches the criteria of the role you are interviewing for, if you turn up to an interview unprepared your chances will be halved.
How to prepare for a first interview
- Research, research, research!
Prior to your interview, research the company by looking at their website, Google recent news articles they have appeared in and check out their social media. When were they established? How do they operate? What is their yearly turnover? What profit did they make last year? What kind of customers do they target? The more information you know, the better; you can never predict what the interviewer will ask you about your knowledge of their company. Also, look up your interviewer on LinkedIn and have a fair idea of what their background is. It is always better to know a little too much than not enough!
Know your CV inside out
Familiarise yourself with everything you have written in your CV, such as details of achievements, dates and qualifications. Read through the job description again and think about how your experience relates to what they’re looking for.
Practice answering the most common questions
If you can rehearse interview questions beforehand, cover both skills-based and competency-based questions as it’s likely you will be asked a mixture of both. Why have you applied for this role? What could you bring to this role? Why are you interested in working for us? Talk about a difficult situation that you had to overcome? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to leave your current role? Etc.
Look the part
Make sure you dress for the environment you’re visiting and that your outfit is smart, clean and comfortable. It’s advisable to ask about the dress code beforehand, but in our experience, the majority of employers would like to see you dressed in a business suit for an interview. If in doubt it’s always better to be too smart, than too casual.
Know where you’re going
Familiarise yourself with the route you’re going to take and make sure you have the address somewhere safe. If you’re relying on your mobile’s navigation to get you there, it’s worth carrying a charger just in case. If you’re driving, check out where you are going to park and always allow plenty of time for delays. A phone call to say you are running late doesn’t deter from the fact that you’re still running late!
Top tips for a job interview
- Be approachable. Ensure you greet your interviewer with a smile, a firm handshake and a friendly introduction – they’ll be looking for someone who’s confident and comfortable. First impressions mean everything so make sure you are memorable for the right reasons.
- Be enthusiastic. Candidates who are passionate about what they do generally make the most productive employees; therefore, you should display your enthusiasm from the very start of the interview. Even if this is a shift in personality, showing your interest for the role will make a strong impression on the employer.
- Listen, think, then answer. During the interview, the most important thing is to listen to what is being asked of you and answer with clear, concise details, without going off on a tangent. Not answering the question will only hinder your chances of getting through to the next stage. Think about how you would like to answer for a couple of seconds, then speak honestly and professionally.
- Ask questions. When your interviewer asks “Do you have any questions?”, make sure you have some prepared. Enquire further about the company, the team the role is a part of, the history of the organisation and training opportunities. It’s also advisable to ask the employer a question about themselves and their background. Most people like talking about themselves, so give them a chance to tell you a little bit about them.
- What next? At the end of the interview, ask when you’re likely to hear feedback or about the next stage and thank the interviewer for inviting you for the meeting. If you’re feeling really confident, you can ask the interviewer there and then if they think you’ll be suitable for the role.
Tips for a second job interview
If you’ve been invited back for a second interview, fantastic! This is a good sign, but don’t get overly confident as you still need to be as prepared as you were at the first stage.
- Be clear on the format of the second interview. Do you need to prepare a presentation? If so, will you be provided with a laptop and internet access or do you need to print it out and bring it with you? Will you need to complete any tasks or role-plays? Will it be the same people interviewing you again? Find out as much information as you can to help with your preparation.
- Make yourself stand out. A good tip is to ask the interviewer in advance how you compared to the other candidates in the first round of interviews and how many people have been invited back for the second stage. This will give you an idea of what you should focus on when preparing for your second interview. Demonstrate how your experience is relevant and sufficient. Make sure the examples you use are different to your first stage interview – giving new reasons why you would be the perfect person for the role.
- Don’t worry if you have been asked to do a presentation. Focus on speaking slowly and clearly, not exceeding the time frame and remain calm and collected. No matter how much you dislike public speaking, always appear confident and comfortable. Focus on the subject matter you’re speaking about and display your knowledge to the best of your ability.
General interview tips
The best interview advice is to find a happy medium in every aspect, i.e.
- Shake the interviewer’s hand firmly, but don’t break any bones.
- Give detail to your answers, but not too much. If the interviewer is looking bored or getting easily distracted, you might want to move your answer along.
- Be early, but not too early – fifteen minutes is plenty of time.
- Ask two or three questions at the end of your interview, but don’t get carried away – remember you’re the candidate, not the interviewer.
- If you’re required to do a presentation, speak slowly and clearly, but in a comfortable and normal fashion.
Good luck if you have an interview coming up and if you need any advice, please feel free to contact us here.