The interview process varies for every job. After the initial application process, some employers choose to screen candidates further by inviting them to take a test, have a chat on the phone or even prepare a case study before coming in to have a face-to-face interview.
All of these steps are equally important in impressing prospective employers and landing your dream job.
If you’ve been invited to interview it means you’ve passed the first test – your application must have made a good impression. Now you need to plan for the interview to make sure you’re successful at this stage.
Remember: No matter how it turns out, don’t look back on the interview wishing you had been more prepared.
Here’s some information that may help you successfully overcome the hurdles of attending an interview. Some things you may find obvious, but these are often the things we forget.
Knowing what you need to prepare can be difficult. To put your mind at rest, try to write a checklist of things to consider. For example:
• Research the company
• Look up your role
• Find the address
• Think of some potential questions your interviewer may ask
• Prepare some potential questions you could ask at the end of the interview
Before the interview
Preparation for an interview is an absolutely key process and will often be the difference between your success and failure. Good preparation not only gives you an insight into the organisation, it can also give you some all-important confidence. And, let’s face it, no-one likes surprises.
So, what specific preparation should you carry out?
Interviewers will expect you to have a good grasp of what their organisation does, who their customers are, how big it is, how it’s divided up and who its main competitors are. With these facts under your belt, you’ll be able to hold a meaningful conversation about the company and put any details you’ve learned ahead of the interview into context.
Showing you’ve done some independent research on the company also shows that you really want the role.
You need to make sure you understand the job description fully and know how it fits into the overall structure of the company. If you have any queries about it then try to raise them before the interview or be prepared to bring them up as you go along.
Ask yourself what the key skills for the job are and think of examples which enable you to demonstrate those skills.
Make sure you find out what format the interview will take. Often they can be combinations of standard interviews and role-specific tests (such as role plays or psychometric questionnaires).
You should also find out who your interviewer(s) will be and their roles within the organisation. You can look these up on the company website, or try finding them on LinkedIn.
The fewer surprises on the day, the better.
You can’t predict every question that you’ll encounter, so approach the interview with a list of important points about yourself that you want the interviewer to know.
For example, if you apply for a job as a Sales Representative, you might want to list the products you’ve sold before, types of customers (by industry, age, etc.), languages spoken, personal experience in that industry and related knowledge – perhaps from your studies.
Each question you address will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer.
The day before the interview
Get everything ready for the interview, so that the following day you can just grab your things and go. This includes what you’ll be wearing, your CV, and a map of the location.
If you’re not sure how to get there, try and make the journey the day before (if possible). Being late because you got lost doesn’t send out a great first impression. Also, it won’t help your stress levels.
Always remember to take important information with you. Taking a pack containing your CV, cover letter, examples of your work and any certificates of merit or qualification levels is well worth it.
Even if some of these things are not needed during your interview, you’ll not only be prepared – you’ll look prepared too. Also, they are a great point of reference when demonstrating a point (or if you get stuck).
On the day of the interview
Take special care to dress appropriately – most of the time smart business dress will be appropriate. On some rare occasions, smart casual may be appropriate but ensure you err on the more formal side.
Finally, always make sure you’re punctual – try to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. If you’re going to be late for any reason then make sure you inform the interviewer as early as possible.
Once you’re fully prepared for the interview, it’s time to start thinking about the interview itself.
by Michael Cheary – Reed