Updated: Oct 19
Job interviews are often perceived as scary events that can have even the most confident of us quaking in our boots. But in today’s job market, where two interviews for each role is not uncommon, we need to overcome those anxieties and make the interviews a success. How do we do that? By being prepared. Here we are going to discuss how you can prepare for a successful interview so that you can work on presenting the best version of yourself.
Preparing Before the Interview
1. Research the Company
You’ve just been invited for an interview, fantastic! Your next step is to gather as much information as possible about your potential employer. You probably already know the company's name, so now is a good time to look further into their mission and vision statements. They may not come up in the interview, but you will get a deeper understanding of the core values governing the company.
Which values do the company prioritize?
What attitude does the company hold to issues in today’s business world?
From the mission and vision statements, it is possible to create a rough picture of what the company wants in an employee. As well as researching their values and mission statement, research about the history of the company; its business trends over the past few years, projected trends in the future, notable competitors, and possibly the strengths and weaknesses of the company. This information will help you to navigate awkward situations and help you to promote your understanding of their business. They will really appreciate your effort and foresight.
2. Rehearse Beforehand
Preparation is the key to a successful interview. Many job seekers make the mistake of winging it. There is no doubt that you should know the basics of your industry before you go in for an interview.
It is important to prepare in advance a list of potential questions that your interviewer might ask you. If you feel nervous about an interview, then one of the quickest ways to ease this worry is to practice beforehand. Ask a friend to help you and take turns answering key interview questions. Seeing your friends’ answers to the questions may help you reevaluate how you would answer. Additionally, it gives you a chance to observe the interview from the other side!
3. Dress Appropriately
It may be a given for some but dressing appropriately for an interview is not always high on people’s priority list. Consider the role you are applying for and try to dress accordingly. This doesn’t mean that you have to pull out your best suit and tie, it could mean wearing something formal yet flexible. If you are applying for an admin role then dressing as if you are aiming for CEO is probably going to put the interviewer off. Similarly, if you are applying for a senior role, make sure your outfit matches your level of professionalism.
4. Factor in Travel Time
If you are too worried about the actual interview, then you may forget this crucial step. Think about your route to the interview (assuming it is a face-to-face interview, always be sure to check that beforehand). Which way will you go? Is there parking nearby? Will you be travelling in rush hour? How long will it take you to get from your car to the interview? Factor all of this in so that you arrive in good time and unflustered.
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During the Interview
5. Make a Good First Impressions
The first impression someone has on you is most likely to remain that way for quite some time, so you want to make sure it is a good one! Show up early, be friendly to people around you, keep your phone or tablet out of sight and preferably in silent mode.
Listen to instructions given carefully and follow them correctly; some interviewers might hide a trick or two here. Avoid adopting a new personality to create a good impression or let your nerves take over. No one wants to be remembered for that awkward tumbleweed joke that you felt would break the ice. Being your authentic self is the best way to build confidence, respect, and a good first impression.
Highlight your attributes without showing off and have a positive attitude in your intentions and aspirations. Most of all, make sure you make eye contact with everyone in the room. 65% of hiring managers turn down applicants based on a lack of eye contact. Be organized. Organize your documents neatly in a folder in case they are required for verification. Introduce yourself properly to the panel in a confident,
yet humble way.
6. Let the Interviewer Take the Lead
People can often feel tense in an interview situation and can feel that they need to be the ones to break that awkward silence or shift uncomfortably until they are spoken to. Easing into the conversation is best initiated by the interviewer. In these moments of quiet, try to feel confident within yourself and present that confidence by maintaining eye contact and having open body language.
7. Remember That Body Language Speaks Volumes
Your body language will say a lot about you, from the amount of eye contact you hold to the way you cross your legs. Try to keep an open, calm stature and think about the nonverbal movements you make. Avoid fidgeting, rocking the chair back and forth, or crossing your arms on your chest. Employ appropriate hand gestures making sure they don’t cause a distraction.
While talking, maintain a confident tone. Statistics have it that 40% of interviewers consider the tone of the employee before approving them. Be audible, and speak at a moderate pace. Avoid adopting fancy accents or rude tones. Generally, your verbal and nonverbal cues must depict confidence.
8. Answer Questions Appropriately; the STAR Method
A job interview can be intimidating, and you want to make sure you're prepared for it. The best way to do that is to practice answering questions in a mock interview setting. This will help you become more comfortable and confident when you're speaking with the hiring manager. The interviewer will ask you several questions to gauge your level of expertise and your thinking towards certain subjects and topics.
The most common style of question used by interviews is the behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions are those that ask you to describe a specific incident or situation from your past. The star method is a popular way to answer behavioural interview questions. The STAR method helps you answer these questions quickly and effectively by breaking down the question into manageable parts.
For example, you might be asked to tell the panel of a mistake you once made and how you resolved it. The star method is very helpful in situations like this.
S-Situation. Think of an appropriate situation.
T-Take time to analyze the situation. What happened? Who was involved? Where were you?
A-Ask yourself what your goal was. What actions did you take?
R –Resolution. Were you successful in fixing the situation?
Example Question using STAR method
Tell me about a time when you had made a mistake and what actions
you took to correct it?
S: In my most recent role, I made the mistake of writing the wrong date for a meeting. I only realised it the day before the meeting.
T: To fix my mistake I needed to contact all the people attending the meeting.
A: After finding the list of attendees, I then went on to contact them regarding the wrong date of the meeting. I apologized for the inconvenience and then set another date that they could all attend
R: After contacting all the attendees, I was able to reschedule the meeting that everyone could attend. Since this mistake, I now double-check all my bookings with a fine-tooth comb.
After the Interview
9. Acquire Contact Information
Once the interview is over, make sure you have the interviewers' contact details and ask about the timeframe for them to get back to you. Also, ask the interviewers if they can provide input about your performance and when you may be able to expect feedback from them. They'll appreciate the eagerness and you'll get an answer in much less time than you'd otherwise have to wait! These will help you appear confident and eager at the same time!
10. Take Notes (after the interview)
Where possible, take notes about your interview (do this after the interview if you need to). Think about the answers you gave and the interactions you had in the room. By writing them down you can review them at a later date and see if you could have performed better. It will also help you to keep track of any key information that might come up in the next interview.
11. Link up to the Company’s Social Platforms
Connect to the company's social website and LinkedIn platforms. It is a sign of extra effort and will help you stay up to date with their work. Many professional and business people connect with businesses and organizations on social media, like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.
LinkedIn is the largest business-oriented social networking website for professionals. It has over 500 million members in more than 200 countries. By connecting on LinkedIn, you'll be able to see the company's full profile. On the platform, you can read more about their mission and vision as well as engage in discussions. If you connect to the company's social networks, you can see more pictures and videos of what they do and have engaging conversations with them!
12. Follow Up Afterwards
Create a follow-up email after the interview. It should be concise yet polite and thank the interviewer for taking the time to see you. This follow-up message will help you stick in the interviewer’s mind and will show you going above and beyond.
There are many things to do before, during and after the interview that will greatly increase your chances of getting the job. By making sure that you are well prepared for each interview, you will show that you are serious about the job and that you will be an asset to the company.
Thank you for reading this article about how to prepare for a job interview. If you are looking for help to prepare for a job interview, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org