How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Prepare properly for your job interview and you increase your odds of being successful in securing the job you want.

Employers can use different methods to conduct interviews, but all of them require careful and diligent preparation.

These interviewing methods are:

  • Face to face
  • Video
  • Telephone
  • Assessment centre.

Face to face is a tried and tested traditional interview method, where you go to the employer’s workplace and an individual or panel will question you about your suitability for the job. Face to face interviews can last between 45 minutes and two hours.

Video interviews has grown in popularity during the pandemic, especially for applications to graduate schemes. Some interviews are live, others pre-recorded. Video interviews tend to be shorter than face to face interviews.

Generally, a telephone interview will come early in the application process, if there are lots of people applying for the same position. It acts as a filter so that fewer applicants go through to the next stage. Expect a telephone interview to last around 30 minutes.

Employers use assessment centres if they want to compare the performance of large numbers of candidates at the same time. These interviews tend to last a full day and include tests and workshops. Some are now held online.

Interviews may involve tests and exercises as well as questions, so it’s important to prepare for these too.

Do Your Research

Potential employers will expect you to be interested in their business and to have a good understanding of who they are and what they do.

When researching the business, look at what sector it’s in, who its competitors are and any of its recently completed major projects. What are the industry’s specific challenges and recent developments?

You want to demonstrate that you have a genuine interest.

Research the role you’re applying for. Go over the job description and get it clear in your own mind how your skills and qualifications match it. You need to let the employer know:

  • Why you want the job
  • That you understand the role
  • Why they should choose you above anyone else.

Think about the kinds of questions you’re likely to face at the interview, including questions about yourself and your interests. But also prepare questions that you want to ask the interviewer.

Your interview should be dynamic and two-way and not just be about you waiting to be asked things.

If you can, research who it is that will be interviewing you, whether an individual or a panel. The perfect place to find out more about your interviewers is LinkedIn, but the employer may also have a web page with details about key members of staff.

The more you can connect with your interviewers, the more you can create a favourable impression.

You should also research the practical stuff to do with your interview:

  • Where and when is it being held?
  • How will you get there?
  • If it’s a video or telephone interview, are your devices charged and working properly?

Practice Your Technique

Doing a mock interview before the real thing is a useful way to prepare for your interview.

If you’re a student, check with your college or university’s careers service to see what support they provide for mock interviews.

You can also practice at home, writing down answers and learning to give them verbally. Record yourself and review your performance. You want to sound as natural as possible.

What to Wear on the Day

Many employers expect job candidates to dress smartly, but some do encourage casual wear at work.

This is where your research can help. You want to follow the dress code correctly.

Generally, it’s safer to go for a smarter rather than casual appearance.

If you’re having a video interview, don’t dress down for it. Treat it as if you were being interviewed face to face.

First impressions count, so pay special attention to your appearance.

What to Have with You

For face to face interviews there’s a checklist of things to take:

  • Pen and notebook
  • The interview invitation and your CV
  • Academic certificates and a portfolio of work examples (if required)
  • Photo ID

For video or telephone interviews, you may still need to make notes and need to refer to your CV and qualifications, so keep these handy.

Before a video interview, make sure you’ve got a reliable internet connection and you have any necessary web addresses and log-in details.

Gain a Competitive Advantage Early On

What will get you in front of employers and help you compete successfully for interviews? The video CV is an increasingly popular way of showcasing your qualifications, experience and talent.

For more information, please contact us.

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