Interviews, How do I prepare?
Interviews can be daunting, especially if you haven’t been interviewed for a long time. The build-up is often much worse than the actual interview. Most of our hints and tips are common sense but will help you to create a lasting impression.
Preparation is the key to confidence, fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Find out about the organisation, recap the responsibilities of the role and write down where and when you have previously performed the tasks required for the position you’re applying for, you may have done this already in your application but it will help later on if you do this again.
Plan everything, this way your stress levels shouldn’t rise much! Decide what to wear, making sure it’s washed, cleaned, polished and ready to put on the day before. Make sure that you know exactly where to go and how to get there (I have always done a dummy run of the journey before an interview so I know the route and how long the journey is.) always leave more time than needed for the journey; arriving late is never a good first impression. Make sure you have the company phone number and your point of conatcts name close to hand on your journey so if for any reason you are going to be late, even if only by a few minutes you can ring ahead and let them know.
Dress smartly and be polite
Always dress smartly even if you know or suspect that the dress code in the company is ‘smart casual’. Appearances shouldn’t matter but you are often judged before you utter a word for example if you are applying for a front of house role and arrive looking scruffy you will not be doing yourself any favours! Dressing one level above the job you’re applying for shows a desire to succeed.
Shake hands when you’re introduced. It’s a formal situation, so even if you were asked for an informal chat, treat it as you would any other interview. A hand shake can tell a lot about you; a loose, limp handshake shows a lack of confidence but a very tight a grip shows aggression.
Listen carefully to the questions and think about your answer.
In the heat of the moment, when the pressure is on it’s easy to miss what is being asked. Focus on the question, if you don’t understand or don’t take the question in, it’s fine to ask your interviewer to repeat the question. Interviewers will make allowances for nerves – they’re used to it! Take a moment before you answer, this is where a ‘prop’ can be useful. If you’re offered a drink accept it whether you’re thirsty or not. Take a sip before you answer a question, to give yourself time to collect your thoughts. If you crossed referenced your skills and have written them down during your preparation, the answers should stay with you making it easier to answer work and experience related questions easily without needing to collect your thoughts.
Be honest, open and positive
Answer every question honestly and openly. Be confident and positive about your strengths, but don’t waffle! If you can’t answer the question (after having listened carefully, asked for clarification, and taken a sip of your drink), say so. Remember, interviewers are not trying to catch you out; they want to find out about you. They will be more impressed with honesty and willingness to learn than with bluff and bravado.
Ask relevant questions.
If you ask the right questions at interview it can show you have done your research, there are lots of topics you can ask about providing the topics haven’t already been covered by the interviewer; management style, reporting lines, your responsibilities, products or projects. It’s not appropriate to ask about terms and conditions of employment (holidays, for example) nor about salary. It looks as if you’re only interested in the money and yourself, not the work, ask about those when you’re offered the job.
You are now fully prepared for your interview, Good Luck!