Preparing for an Interview
Preparing for an interview can be quite daunting, especially if you haven’t attended an interview for a number of years. After I was made redundant back in 2009, I had to contemplate attending an interview, my first in 15 years!
As Benjamin Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”, and he isn’t wrong!
Firstly, spend some time researching the company. I remember watching one series of The Apprentice with Lord Sugar and was shocked at the lack of knowledge some of the apprentices had regarding his company. Researching the company will give you confidence should you be asked any question on what the company does. It will also allow you to ask the employer questions.
You could contact the company to ask for an information pack or you could look at their website.
It’s helpful to find out the following things about the employer:
- What they do, make or sell?
- Who are their customers?
- What sort of organisation are they?
- What is the job likely to involve?
- How can you best fit your skills to match the job?
Plan for the interview
Hopefully, you will have been advised regarding the content of the interview but it doesn’t hurt to ask some additional questions.
- Who will be carrying out the interview?
- What is their position?
- How long will the interview take?
- Does it include a presentation or a take a test?
Plan you route
If possible travel to the company prior to the day of the interview to check how long the journey will take (remember to take weekday traffic in to consideration) Have a look at Google Maps to identify the nearest train station etc. and if driving ask the employer for whether there is parking facilities.
In case something unexpected happens, such as your car breaking down, or your bus/train being cancelled, it is advisable to have a contingency plan.
Decide what to wear
This will depend on what sort of work you will be doing. Ideally, prepare your outfit the day before. Aim for a neat, clean and tidy appearance, if you look good it will help you feel good.
The information you’ll need at the interview
- Take a copy of the vacancy you applied for to refresh your memory regarding the role you have applied for.
- Take a copy of you CV or application form to refer to
- Prepare notes to refer to if you feel you may need a prompt during the interview
- Make a note of the contact details for the employer, including their telephone number.
Questions you maybe asked during the interview
It is a good idea to try and pre-empt some of the questions that you maybe asked at the interview.
Here are a few examples:-
1. Why do you want to work here?
Mention the following:
- The good reputation of the firm
- Any other positive information you have about them – for example: their training record or their equal opportunities policy
- The job will give you the opportunity to do work that interests you
2. Why did you leave your last job?
Be positive. If you left for health reasons, explain that you’re now able to carry out all the duties for the job you are applying for. Don’t use this as an opportunity to criticise your previous company. If you were dismissed, say that you take responsibility for your actions and have learnt from the experience.
3. What did you do in your last job?
Describe the following things:
- Skills and duties relevant to the new job
- Your responsibilities
- How you worked with others
- If you worked with customers – say how you worked with them
- How long you were there
- Whether you were promoted
- Responsibilities you volunteered to take on
4. How long have you been out of work and how do you spend your time?
Describe the following:
- What you have done to look for a job
- Any voluntary work you have done
- Any further education, study or training you have taken part in
- Your hobbies and leisure activities – if appropriate
Try to link what you did to the skills and experience the employer is looking for.
5. What makes you think you are the right person for this job?
Tell the interviewer about the following:
- The skills and experience you have which are relevant to the job
- The personal qualities that you bring to the job
6. Why have you had so many jobs?
You could say the following things:
- You wanted to widen your experience in different types of work or in different companies
- Many of the jobs were temporary
- You would rather be in work than out of work
On the Day
Ensure you give yourself plenty of time to get ready and make sure you’ve got all the relevant paperwork with you. If you are unfortunately delayed, contact the employer as soon as possible to explain, apologise and if necessary arrange another appointment.
Arrive at least ten minutes early to the interview, this will give you time to relax and compose your thoughts and reread the job description if needed.
You may be felling nervous; your heart may beat faster or have clammy hands and ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. This is all perfectly natural so don’t worry. If you do feel your nerves are getting the better of you, practise deep; slow breathing before you get to the interview. This slows down your heart rate and will help you avoid taking quick shallow breaths.
Remember, you only get one opportunity to make a good impression and it only takes a few minutes for people to assess you and store this information. Once you have made a first impression, it’s hardly ever changed.
There is a lot of information on the web regarding the Do’s and Don’ts at interviews so it is worth having a look at this also in preparation too.
After the interview
Once you have completed the interview, consider asking the following;-
- Ask when you will hear if you have been successful or not.
- Are there any further interviews in the interview process, some companies hold more than one interview when recruiting.
It is worth considering the situation if you are not successful at the interview. Firstly, don’t be too despondent, not everybody gets offered a job after just one interview. Look at it as experience, if you receive a letter from the company, write on ring the company and ask them if it is possible to have some feedback on why you were not successful on this occasion.
Take this as constructive, an opportunity to look at areas you can improve on and this will help you prepare for your next interview.
Life is a learning process and we are all still learning every day!