You’ve just had the call – after sweating over your CV and crafting an amazing cover letter you’ve made the cut and been asked to come in to interview for your dream job. Time to celebrate… then it dawns on you – you actually have to go in, sit in front of a bunch of strangers and be asked a series of seemingly random questions.
That’s right, the dreaded job interview.
I interview people all the time and I can confidently say no-one likes job interviews (well, some people say they don’t mind them but they are probably the same people that say they love exercise and enjoy exams) so I am not sure that I believe them.
However, just like exams and exercise, it’s possible that by carefully preparing for a job interview the whole experience will be much less excruciating, and even better you’ll increase your chances of getting your dream job.
Here’s some of my tips for preparing for a job interview.
1. Upfront research
This is the number one cardinal rule. There is nothing truly more disheartening than meeting a candidate who can’t “quite remember” what the role is or who the organisation is.
Do as much research as you can. Read the ad, dissect the job description, google it, talk to current employees. If you are working with a recruitment company don’t be shy about asking for tips around what the employer wants and may ask.
Then, just as importantly, think about how your skills and experience will apply to this role. The more you think about and consider it, the easier it will be to articulate in the interview.
2. The job interview
Once you have a good knowledge around the role and organisation you need to turn your mind to preparing for the job interview itself. Of course, interviews can come in all shapes and sizes but generally, they follow a rough sequence.
The icebreaker questions
There are a variety of these – but most often they sound something like “Tell me about yourself?” or “What is it that you think you can bring to this role?”
These questions are about first impressions; the interviewer wants you to paint a picture about yourself. This is your elevator pitch – lead with your strongest selling points. Be concise, be relevant and be positive. This sets the scene for the interview so it’s not the time to be modest or to ramble.
The nitty gritty
These will be the role specific questions, which delve into your skills, experience and capabilities. Interviewers will ask about specific skills or capabilities relevant to the role. This could be things such as attention to detail, people management, project management or sales. They want to hear examples from your work. For example if they ask about your sales experience, they want to hear how you increased sales, by how much and then how this impacted the business.
Once again, preparation is the key. The basis for these questions should come from the job description but if you don’t have a job description you’ll be able to get a good idea from the advertisement. When preparing for a job interview, try and think of at least one good example for each capability they may ask about.
Generally, interviewers like to close with some light questions to round out their picture. Hopefully by this stage you’ll be feeling more comfortable and, depending on how chatty your interviewer is, you may have been able to glean some ideas about what is really important in the role which you can weave into your answers. There will also be questions about things like notice periods and referee details so make sure you have prepared for these.
Most importantly be prepared, be positive and sound like you are genuinely interested in the role.
Good luck out there.
Written by Emily Bisset, Intepeople Talent Partner.