The interview is probably one of the scariest moments in your life.
It’s a technique employers have used for years to learn about a candidate’s experience.
There is a multitude of factors to consider before even setting foot into the interview, or in fact before you even get the call asking you to come in.
This is the first in a series that covers tips and advice on interviews and how to perfect it.
Let’s dive into Part 1, where we discuss skills you can begin to hone, right now, that will prepare you for when the big interview comes up.
It’s Never Too Early To Start
Planning for the interview questions before you even get an interview.
It isn’t just an important skill for the interview, but for life itself.
Reflecting on past experiences, finding your moments of triumph and the moments you wish you had done more to improve are a beneficial way to interpret out past experiences.
Think of all the different interactions you have had with customers, work colleagues, managers, and anyone else you encountered at work on a daily basis.
Think of the situations that, in hindsight, went well, and those that didn’t.
Now, write down a few different stories that you think can best reflect on your professional skills and abilities based on your previous interactions.
Don’t forget to write down moments, too, where you were not at your best, and how you overcame it.
You never know when a question about your faults will arise, so it’s good to be prepared.
What to expect in an interview
By preparing a few answers in advance, you will be able to recall your past successes much more quickly than you would have if you tried to ad-lib your way through interviews.
There is no way to predict exactly the questions that will be asked, so make sure to cover as much ground on your preparation as you can.
Interview questions may come in all forms.
They may focus on
- your ability to balance multiple tasks,
- they may touch on your ability to show leadership, or
- even focus on your ability to handle workplace conflict.
Questions like these may seem unpredictable, but there are ways to prepare to handle them.
That is what we are here to give some insight on in this first post.
Interview research methods
All interview preparation, behavioural or otherwise, needs to touch all bases.
At a glance, some of the steps that are about to follow may seem quite obvious.
But we think everyone could benefit from these, even if they only serve as quick reminders.
When you’ve got the call to come in for an interview, the first thing to do is research the company.
Knowing all about the place of employment will not only put you ahead of the competition, but it will also help you prepare for all types of interview questions that may come your way.
Here are some ways to approach your research.
- Find out who the company’s competitors are
- Read the company’s annual reports
- Learn about the company’s structure and goals, and think about how your experience can benefit these
- If you know who is interviewing you, see if you can find something out about their professional background through LinkedIn
- Learn about the company’s culture if you can. This includes dress code as well as expected behavioural norms
How to practice for an interview
Now that this is done, you should practice your interview.
Find a friend (like your job search buddy) or someone else you trust to role-play different interview scenarios.
This will help you practice your answers to interview questions, and will allow you to get critique for your performance before you go out and do the real thing.
You can even alternate roles with the person you are practising with to make things more interesting.
Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep on working on this again and again.
Think of this experience as a dry-run–something to get your head in the right place.
Speaking of practice, how is your handshake?
- A nice, firm handshake can leave a lasting impression on your interviewer
- a floppy one says you lack adequate social skills, and
- too firm of a handshake is seen as a sign of aggressiveness.
So it may pay to practice your handshake too, just in case.
Interview Day Tips:
- Look professional, prepared and confident. Dress comfortably but professionally, have everything you need on hand, and walk with a sense of purpose.
- Punctuality is key, but do not arrive too early. 15-20 minutes is fine, more than that may send the wrong message.
- Prepare questions to ask your interviewers. Good examples include the day to day responsibilities for the position and opportunity for growth within the company.
- Professional thank you notes can make a lasting impression. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and say you look forward to hearing from the company soon
- Follow up if have not heard from the company after a reasonable amount of time. If you didn’t get the job, ask for feedback about what you could do to improve in the future.
And there you have it.
A few key steps to prepare you for a wonderful interview.
Next, check out Part 2: How to stand out in an interview.