How to Prepare for your Interview

Published: 04 Dec 2014

So the interview hot seat awaits. Every job interview will be different, but regardless of the position you're going for, the preparation is the same.

Remember the basics - don't make the mistake of turning up late or with absolutely no knowledge of the company you're trying to land a job with. It's not rocket science.

Take the time to properly prepare and you'll know you're really giving it your best shot.

• Research the company

Don't just have a five-minute scan on the firm's website and think you're done. You've got to be thorough. Really use every resource available on their website. Look for annual reports you can download and read and re-read any articles written by CEOs and other directors for a steer on the company ethos.

Some even have input from employees where you can get an idea of what it would be like to work there.

It's not all about the website though. Get on social media and find out if they have a Twitter feed and Facebook page. What's being said there? Any feedback from clients or up-to-date news from management you should know about?

Also make sure you know about the company's main competitors - be able to identify who they are and how they differ/are similar to the firm you're trying to join. Look for industry journals and magazines that also might give an insight into the relevant sector.

• Research your role:

How can you demonstrate you're the best person for the job if you don't know the nitty gritty of exactly what's involved in that role?

Go back the original job advert with role description which will be full of clues about company's ideal candidate. After that, it's a case of joining the dots, matching your experience to the job requirements. Ask yourself what the key skills are for the job and cite examples which enable you to demonstrate those skills.

• Learn your CV:

Become an expert on your own experience. Cheesy as it sounds, stand in front of a mirror and practice your delivery. How do you look? Nervous? Anxious? You've got to work on that. Being confident at interview will go down well, but you must know what you're talking about. Make sure you're consistent and that you incorporate relevant information from your CV into your answers. If you use your CV to back up what you're saying with practical examples, employers will be reminded of that when they look at your resume again post-interview.

• Be skills aware:

In competency-based interviews it's all about having certain skills and demonstrating how you use them.  Some of the main 'competencies' employers look for are communication skills, leadership, teamwork, responsibility, problem solving and organisational skills.

Giving examples is key to answering competency-based questions. Go in armed with some anecdotes of past successes and apply the 'STAR' model to them. Think Situation, Task, Action, Result. This will help you convey the problem, what you had to do to solve it, exactly how you solved it and, finally, the outcome.

Always remember too that you should emphasise your ability to learn new skills and adapt to new situations and technologies.

• Added extras:

While it's an outdated notion to put hobbies on your CV or talk at length about your spare time in an interview, some out-of-work activities are definitely worth a mention. Have you been involved in a local charity event or are you part of any voluntary organising committees? These could show an appealing range of attributes and managerial or organisational skills that may well strike a chord with a potential employer.

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