7 Tips on How to Prepare for an Interview
In interviews, you have to persuade a recruiter that you have the skills, knowledge and experience for the job. Being prepared shows motivation and helps convince the recruiter that you are the right person.
When considering how to prepare for an interview for a new job, the best advice is to keep it simple. This post will discuss the practical steps that you can take, but think of all these as mini-objectives towards an overall goal. That goal is to ensure you convince the interviewers that you have the skills, knowledge and experience that make you the ideal fit; that you ‘tick the boxes’ of what the company is looking for.
The key to doing this is preparation and research, availing of every opportunity, including your appearance, your knowledge of the company’s culture, your verbal and non-verbal communication skills, your manner, to indicate that you are in ‘sync’ with the company.
Bottom line is a neat, groomed, tidy appearance, whether your overall configuration is the traditional classic business suit look, or the less formal stylings that have become increasingly commonplace in professional life.
And if you must carry documentation or a laptop or tablet, do so in a proper bag such as this Men’s Classic by Polo; ultra formal models such as the Classic Three Gusset Lg Toploader by Samsonite; or this very cool waterproof leather Business Laptop Backpack from Kopack.
All of this attention to detail indicates motivation, energy, and critical thinking, taking you significantly closer to getting an offer.
How to Prepare for an Interview – 7 Simple Tips
Getting a call to job interview can be quite overwhelming, and how to prepare for an interview can easily be swamped by anxiety. That’s why it’s vital to keep things simple. Follow these 7 simple tips on how to prepare for an interview to create a realistic prospect of a job offer.
1. Research the Organisation
This may seem like obvious advice, but among all the best advice and tips in how to prepare for an interview, it’s one of the most frequently squandered opportunities. So anyone who spends the time doing it is going to immediately stand out from less prepared candidates.
Start by going through the organisation’s website, read up on its history and background, and study its mission statement or ethos. Read the job description in detail and consider how that role fits within this overall mission.
Familiarise yourself with the organisation’s range of services and products, and its clients if possible, and do a Google search for news stories relating to the company and its sector, to give you an insight into the company’s stability, its future plans, as well as opportunities for growth in its sector.
News stories, either in the general news media or in trade publications, will give you a perspective on the reputation of the organisation.
During this phase of research, be sure to jot down any questions that you have about the company that you were unable to answer during this initial trawl of information.
2. Match Your Skills & Experience with the Job Description
Analyse and break down the job description into headings of required knowledge, skills and experience, and, from your initial research (see point 1 above), note where this position fits within the organisation.
Note the skills and experience summary of your resumé alongside this analysis, and compare it with the requirements of the employer. Take note of the specific matches between your skills set and the things the employer is looking for.
3. Think About Questions and Prepare Responses
Setting out responses to standard questions about you and your application is one of the most important steps in how to prepare for an interview. The bulk of most job interviews are composed of questions based on your resumé, your behaviour and your knowledge. Study the experts for the most common interview questions, and level these queries at yourself and your own resumé, drafting concise responses to each, and practise them aloud to get comfortable with talking about yourself.
4. Consider What to Wear
Dress code is a useful interview preparation subject to research during your initial investigations of the organisation. Again, you want to be a good fit—a stand-out candidate, but not too far out! For this reason, if you’re in any doubt, keep your attire conservative and professional. Choose a plain, dark suit with complementary tie and smart dress shoes. If the dress code is ‘business casual’, err towards conservative. Above all, ensure that all your clothes are neat, clean and free of wrinkles, and ensure that your hair and overall appearance is well groomed and tidy.
5. Pack Things that you Might Need
Again, this may seem like obvious advice, but if you consider documentation or accessories that you might need during the course of an interview, and bring this with you, it’s evidence of a prepared and thoughtful, organised person.
Therefore, bring up to five or 10 copies of your resumé, printed on high-quality paper, and ask, before the interview begins, if the interviewer(s) have copies of the document.
A notepad and pen is great to have to hand if there is information that the panel is passing along to you which you wish to take note of. Expect also at least the possibility of being asked for details of references.
You should also consider during interview preparation whether it would be useful to prepare a portfolio of high quality samples of your work. If you believe this can help to vividly illustrate your skills and aptitudes, prepare one and bring it with you on the day.
6. Be Mindful of your Non-Verbal Communication
Body language and non-verbal communication speaks volumes, so it’s important to be mindful of your behaviour from the moment you enter the venue for the interview. Use any time you have in the waiting room to compose yourself. Do not make phone calls. Remember, it’s possible that your behaviour in the waiting room may be scrutinised.
Projecting pleasantness and confidence is vital, so greet your interviewers with a smile, establishing eye contact and using a firm handshake. Maintain eye contact but don’t stare, and show that you are attentively listening to the questions.
As part of your interview preparation, become conscious of your posture—upright but comfortable is what you’re going for—and of how you use your hands. Using the hands to gesture and emphasise is good, but beware of fidgeting, touching your face, or anything else that might indicate insecurity or lack of preparedness.
Manage your facial reactions too, for these speak volumes about your feelings. Keep your body language positive at all times.
7. Your Questions for the Interviewer & Follow-Up
Many interviews end with ‘Do you have any questions for me/us?’, and this is another golden opportunity to shine. It is best to have these questions memorised, but if there is a technical point that you wish to discuss, you could say something like “I jotted down some points while preparing for the interview. Would you mind if I reviewed my notes?”
This “any questions” stage of an interview is a fantastic opportunity to cover information that has not been discussed during the interview, or to clarify one of your responses to a question answered. Don’t waste this opportunity by being unprepared, and asking a bland question that could be easily answered by going to the organisation’s website!
Here are a few examples of good questions to ask your interviewer(s).
- What are the things that make this organisation a great place to work?
- What are the most important criteria for success in this job?
- Tell me about the organisation’s culture.
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
Some experts recommend sending a thank-you email to interviewers within 24hrs after the interview. This does not have to be lengthy. Keep it short, no more than five or six sentences, taking a new paragraph for each. Be cordial but professional, saying that you enjoyed speaking with the interviewer.
Emphasise any details that confirmed your wish to work with the company. Close by briefly reiterating your interest in them, and emphasise the skills you can bring to the role.