First things first, congratulate yourself on securing an interview! You have been chosen from a large pool of candidates and you’ve done really well! No doubt you will be listening to great advice from those closest to you saying “just be yourself, you’ll be fine” however, you know that this will not be enough to secure the job you really want.
Hiring Managers are looking for the best person to fill their vacancy and they are interviewing you to find out if you are the best person. However, a job interview is always a two-way street. Not only do you need to convince an employer that you are right for their job, you also need to feel assured that they are right for you.
Fail to plan, plan to fail. This phrase couldn’t be more pertinent when it comes to preparing for your interview.
Find out about the job
Ask for a copy of the Job Description and Person Specification. This will give you the duties and responsibilities of the role you are being interviewed for. If the company cannot provide you with these documents, review the job advertisement and look for people on LinkedIn who maybe in a similar role with the company.
Make a list of the knowledge, skills, behaviours and abilities required. How does your experience and personality traits compare to what they will be looking for?
Look at the hierarchy and try and determine where the position fits within the organisation (reviewing Linked in for people who work there, or the contacts page on the company website may give you some clues to support you with this).
Talk to anyone you may know who is familiar with the kind of work you may be doing and aim to find out what qualities the prospective employer is looking for. This is particularly important if you haven’t done this specific role before.
Prepare some examples of relevant experiences you have encountered and successes and achievements you have had.
Research the organisation
You are bound to be asked specific questions around an employer’s business, so make sure you do your homework on their latest profits, new product launches and any challenges they may be facing. There is nothing more disappointing for a hiring manager, when a candidate ooze’s with enthusiasm but doesn’t know more than the basic facts about their company.
Visit the company’s website to ensure you understand what they do.
Review their careers page to understand and appreciate their values and mission statement.
Look on social media (LinkedIn & Facebook) and follow the organisation. Review their posts to understand more about their culture and also their recent news and updates.
Research issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and the wider job sector (include any legislation changes that may affect the organisation and the role).
Read recent press releases for insight on projected growth and stability.
If possible, aim to speak to someone who currently works for the organisation or has previously, to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to work there.
Have a look at the organisation’s Glassdoor reviews. Bear in mind that people only normally comment if they have had a great or poor experience working for the organisation, so ensure you are reading the reviews in this context.
Develop a list of questions about the organisation/industry based upon your research ready for your interview.
Preparation – dress code and your journey to the interview
Go neutral. Be conservative with your business attire. Choose neutral colours and professional shoes, keep your jewellery and makeup simple (if applicable).
Ensure your clothes are neat and wrinkle free.
Dress to impress. Ensure that your overall appearance is neat and tidy.
Dry run. Ensure you travel the route to your interview in advance, preferably around the same time as your interview to ensure you know the route and how long it will take you to get there in relevant traffic conditions. Always aim to arrive 10 minutes before your interview.
Plan what to bring
Bring an extra copy of your CV.
A neat note pad and pen (you can use this to write your interview questions down in advance to show you are well prepared).
Any identification required, if requested.
Information you may need if asked to complete an application (references etc.)
A portfolio of samples of work to show where you can add value, if applicable
Find out about your interviewers
Ask about the format of the interview and who and how many people will be interviewing you, their names and job titles.
To help to put you at ease and to demonstrate how well you have prepared, aim to find out more about the people who will be interviewing you. Take a look on Linked In and also the company website. Try and find out more about their background, how long they have worked for the company and what their role is. Being able to demonstrate an interest in your employers could make all the difference.
Prepare your interview questions
Think about what you want to know about the job and company, who your manager is, how many colleagues you will work closely with, how often your team meets for example.
Questions about structure, software, systems and how things are done are good.
Do ask about training and development opportunities for career progression. Be careful to not come across that you want to advance too quickly though.
Don’t ask about salary, sick pay and terms and conditions of work until you have been offered the job.
Here are a few examples you can choose from;
How would you describe a typical day and week in this position?
Is this a new position? If not, what did the previous employee go on to do?
What is the company's leadership/management style?
Who does this position report to? If I am offered the position, can I meet him or her?
How many people work in this office/department? Is it possible to be shown around?
What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
If I am successful, how soon would you like me to start?
When can I expect to hear from you?
Are there any other questions I can answer for you?
Do you have any reservations about my suitability for the position?
What are your expectations of the successful person in their first 3 months of employment?
How would you describe your company's values?
How has the company changed/evolved over the last few years?
What are the company's plans for growth and development?
Why do you like working for the organisation?
The night before
Get a good night’s sleep. Ensure your clothes and everything you are bringing with you are ready to avoid any unwanted last-minute stress.
When you have prepared as much as this you stand a good chance of success. Remember nerves are natural but if you follow these steps, you will certainly reduce them. Keep your mind-set positive and whatever the outcome, remember you have done your best and you are one step closer to securing the job that’s truly right for you.