The job interview is probably the most important factor in securing a new job. Interviews can be a daunting prospect, especially if it has been a long time since you last had one, but with some preparation and planning they don’t have to be. The interview can be a great opportunity to demonstrate your strengths, personality and enthusiasm for the company or position you are applying for. It can also give you a better insight into the company and a feel for the organisational culture. Here are our top tips for preparing and navigating your next interview.
Preparing for the interview
Do your research
Read the job description – make sure you understand the skills and experience the employer is looking for. Think of examples from your past where you can demonstrate those skills and qualities and use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to prepare examples.
Research the company – check the company’s website to find out more about its products and services, future goals and plans. Google the company for current news and updates, see what they have been doing in their market. Reviewing social channels to get a feel for their culture is also a great idea.
Prepare some questions – write down two or three questions you can ask at the end of your interview that show you are enthusiastic about the job, for example ‘What opportunities are there for training and development within the company?’ or ‘How will the latest acquisition benefit the organisation?’.
When you know the names of the interviewers, look at LinkedIn for a glimpse into their backgrounds. It may help identify topics of interest aligned to your role that could be used to help build a professional rapport and improve your credibility. Use this approach sensibly and be sure not to come across as too informal.
Dress for success
Prepare something sensible and comfortable to wear. Even if the interview is a video interview and most of your outfit will be out of shot, you should dress exactly as you would if you were going to a face-to-face interview. It can have a strong effect on your mindset, attitude and speech and will demonstrate your professionalism and enable you to show your best self.
Practice makes perfect
Ask someone you trust to help you practice interview questions. You might find it helpful to record key information and play it back to yourself several times. If you have been asked to prepare a presentation, make sure you have rehearsed the timings, saved a backup copy, and are clear on the key messages you would like to communicate.
In the current climate, most interviews are taking place via video, so it is a good idea to do a technical test run a few days before with a friend or family member. You should check the positioning of your device, check the lighting is good and the sound is working correctly. If you are using Microsoft Teams, Zoom or another video platform, make sure you have a professional username visible when you start your interview (you don’t want to be displaying the cheeky name you used during the social event the night before).
If the interview is face to face, check where you need to go and how to get there. Be sure to know what time you need to arrive and who to ask for when you get there.
Navigating the interview
Before the interview
Make sure your phone is turned off and if the interview is via video choose a location that is free from distractions – if you share a house, let everyone know that you must not be interrupted. Also, ensure that any pets are kept out of the area.
During the interview
Make eye contact with those asking the questions. If you are on a video, you can make virtual eye contact by looking directly at the camera instead of at your own photo.
Listen to the question being asked and think before answering it. Remember to use the STAR method to answer questions about your skills. Be positive about your experiences – if you found something challenging or a situation difficult, explain what you have learnt from those experiences.
Ask questions when you are invited to do so – this is your opportunity to show enthusiasm for the position and company. Remember, an interview is as much an opportunity for you to investigate the employer and their alignment to your values as it is for them to find out more about you.
At the end of the interview, thank the interviewers for their time and let them know you are looking forward to hearing from them.
After the interview
Write down any questions you found tough to answer – this can help you prepare for future interviews. Every interview you attend provides a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and hone your interviewing skills.
Remember to give feedback to your recruiter. Let your recruiter know how you think it went. If there are any areas you feel you didn’t answer particularly well or you missed key information, your recruiter can cover this in their follow-up call with the employer.
If you are offered the job, let the company know in good time whether you want to accept. If you choose not to accept the offer, decline it politely. You might want to work for them in the future.
If you aren’t offered the job, ask for feedback on your interview. Try to stay positive and learn from your experience. When making your decision, remember your original motivations for seeking a move. Whether it was money, career progression, training and development, access to new technologies etc, keep true to your original intentions and you’ll always be happy with your choice.
For more advice about interviews or help in finding your next role, get in touch with our Talent Acquisition team who will be delighted to provide any help and support you need.