As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So, if you’ve applied for your ideal job and have secured yourself an interview, congratulations! Next is to ensure a positive first impression with your potential employers when you meet them face-to-face.
We’ve put together this quick guide to help you prepare for your interview. In addition to demonstrating your suitability for the role in question, employers are also looking to learn more about who you are and how you would fit in with their particular environment. As such, it’s essential to prepare well in advance in order to tackle whatever an interview throws at you and be confident of leaving a positive, long-lasting impression.
What to prepare before the big day.
Research, research, research
The adage ‘fail to prepare or prepare to fail’ is never truer than when it comes to perfecting your interview performance. Before your interview, make sure you have thoroughly researched the company and, if possible, find out who will be on the interview panel. Read up on the company’s background, goals and plans for the future so that you can talk confidently on the day about relevant issues.
Know the role
Read and re-read the job description so that you know exactly what experience and attributes they are looking for Prepare examples as to how you meet the requirements, past achievements and demonstrate how you would fulfill the role.
Practise your answers
There are a few questions which are commonly asked at every interview; prepare for these in advance, so that you can give a succinct response which covers all the important details. Be prepared to talk about yourself and why you think you’d be good for the role. This is your opportunity to pitch yourself so make everything you say count! Practising out loud is a good technique to hone your answers and try to adopt the STAR method in answering questions. Make sure your responses demonstrate a clear Situation, Task, Action and Result.
Prepare examples and references
During an interview, you will probably be asked to demonstrate what relevant experience you have for the role. Think ahead about how you can align your experiences to the job description, whether they are work-related or something in which you have been involved in on a personal or voluntary capacity. Ensure you do not overinflate your successes and keep answers concise; focusing on the key points you wish to express.
Some employers may also ask for references at this stage of recruitment. If you have this ready in advance, it demonstrates foresight and commitment; and can help to speed up the recruitment process for everybody involved. Immediately demonstrating strong organisational qualities. Ensure you have requested permission from your reference providers first.
Prepare questions to ask them
Remember that an interview is a two-way process. Having some sensible questions to ask about the role and the company demonstrates that you are interested and that you are taking the opportunity seriously.
On the day
Plan what you will wear to your interview the night before. Your appearance will be the first thing your interviewers notice so pay attention to details such as your hair, nails and shoes. On the day, make sure you arrive 15 minutes before your interview. Treat everybody you meet respectfully and don’t forget to smile. Be calm yet confident, look people in the eye and offer a firm handshake. Take some business cards with you to offer at the start of the interview.
Be the best version of yourself
Obviously, in any interview situation, you will want to highlight your best attributes. But it is important that you remain genuine with your answers and realistic with your merits. A positive and upbeat attitude is also far more likely to ensure your interview goes constructively. Prepare self-calming strategies beforehand should nerves creep in; steady breathing, pause before answering questions and don’t rush your speech.
Hopefully, your interview will flow smoothly and feel relatively relaxed. But be careful to remain focused on why you are there. Give concise responses to questions which link back to examples and achievements. Don’t let yourself ramble. Remember that the interviewer is probably seeing lots of candidates so make sure that your answers stand out and you don’t dilute them by talking for too long. Listen carefully to any questions asked; if in doubt do not hesitate to clarify the main points before answering concisely.
After the interview
When your interview finishes confirm the next steps to further demonstrate your interest in the role. They should be able to tell you whether there will be another round of interviews with other Business Heads, or perhaps a timescale by which you can expect to hear if you have been successful.
Use this opportunity to raise any additional questions triggered during the interview; however keep them relevant to the process stage you are currently at. Ask if they require any further information from you moving forward; their response is also a good indicator from their side as to how the stage went.
Finally, consider sending personalised thank you messages to your interviewers. Not only will this cement the positive impression you have given, but it is also a good practice and supports your future networking.