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Everything you need to know about interview preparation

Everything you need to know about interview preparation

07 July 2020

by Stephanie Teece

You’ve managed to get yourself an interview – that’s the hard part over, right? Wrong – lack of interview preparation is often the reason why so many people fall at the interview hurdle.

An interview is your time to prove you are the very best person for the job. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the skills, transferrable skills, experience and knowledge to undertake the job in hand. Most importantly it’s a chance to give a brief insight into your personality, aspirations and motivations, and for the interviewer to get a feel for whether you would fit within the team.

Here are some key tips on how you can effectively prepare for an interview in today’s climate:

Research has never been more important

You are potentially competing against hundreds, sometimes thousands of applicants and any half decent candidate will do their research on a company they are interviewing with. Your key to success is to go further than they would.

Of course, researching the mission, vision and values of your prospective employer is a given, however you should also check out any key achievements and financial information. This will not only show you are proactive and enthusiastic about the position but will also give you piece of mind that the company is sustainable in the current climate.

Building rapport on video interviews can also be difficult. So be sure to check out the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile so you can bring up conversational topics in the interview, when appropriate. This will help warm up the interviewer and will also demonstrate that you are proactive, can think outside the box and are personable.  

Think about the types of questions you could be asked

It is always a good idea to think about the types of questions you could be asked, so you are able to form a basis of a response.   

You want to think about what and why an interviewer might be asking you a certain question. Here are some of the clues you can look out for in an interview to help you distinguish what information an interviewer could be looking for:  

Closed questions – ‘Are you?’, ‘Is there?’, ‘Do you?’, are all prime examples of a closed question. These are generally asked when an interviewer is trying to establish facts, feelings or being conversational.

Open questions – ‘What?’, ‘Who?’, ‘Where?’, ‘Why?’, ‘How?’ are often used to gauge thoughts, needs and experiences. Interviewers tend to use open questions to assess your cultural compatibility with the company.

Probing questions – Interviewers will often use phrases like ‘describe a time’ or ‘explain to me’ to extract a detailed response. If you get a question like this, it’s often because you are not providing enough information.

Clarifying questions – Look out for expressions such as ‘precisely’, ‘did I hear correctly’ and ‘exactly what resources’ as these are used when an interviewer wants to learn specific details about a topic or would like to gain further information. 

Practice makes perfect

The strength of your CV has got you through the door, now you need to make sure you can back it up. Know your CV inside and out and use real-life examples in your responses; remember the interviewer wants to hear specific examples of what you did, not what the team did.

The STAR method is a great way of incorporating examples into your responses:

Situation – Brief outline of the situation.

Task – What did you need to do as a result of the situation?

Action – What did you do? How did you do it? And why?

Result – What was the outcome of your actions?

Why not ask a friend to do a mock interview with you. This will give you the opportunity to practice and will also boost your confidence ahead of the interview.

Use previous interview feedback to your advantage

You will be amazed how many people receive feedback from interviews and don’t do anything about it.

If in a previous interview you were told your examples weren’t specific enough, you know this is an area you can concentrate on and work on for your next interview.

Be sure to use any negative and constructive feedback to your advantage – at the end of the day, it could be the difference between you getting the job or falling at the last hurdle.

Read the job specification thoroughly

The interviewer is looking for someone that can get the job done. You need to be able to demonstrate you have the experience, skills or any transferrable skills that cover the requirements of the job specification.

To help solidify your experience and knowledge, look at how your experience fits with the job specification and keep referring to this when providing examples.

Check out the company culture and dress code

Looking professional is paramount in an interview. However, you also need to take into consideration the company culture and dress code.

If the company has a corporate dress code, you want to adhere to this – you don’t want to be that person in jeans and a t-shirt. However, if they have a business casual dress code, you want to take note of this and make the appropriate outfit choice.

By doing this, you will not only look professional, but it will also help you feel more confident and comfortable in your attire.

Consider your surrounding and technology when video interviewing

Video interviewing has quickly become the norm over recent months and so choosing the right setting for your interview is important.  

You want to position yourself somewhere quiet, with plenty of natural light facing you with a neutral background. Also make sure your laptop is fully charged and that you have access to the same video platform as the interviewer.  

Don’t be late

Tardiness sets a terrible first impression. Give yourself plenty of time to set up and ask a friend to have a practice run through with you to test your internet and audio capabilities for the video interview. 

Send the interviewer a thank you email/note

Today’s job climate is becoming more and more competitive, by sending a quick thank you email/note to the interviewer you are demonstrating professional courtesy and your commitment to the role. This could be the difference between you securing the job or getting overlooked.  

On Wednesday 15th July, 1pm (GMT) we will be hosting the next OJ webinar ‘The global job climate – embracing the new dawn’, where we will be delving into more tips and tricks on how you can ensure you job search is an unrivalled success. Secure your place here 


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