1. Research! Research! Research!
As the saying goes “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”
The first thing you should do when preparing for an interview is to research the company – this will give you a good indication of the company’s values which can help to steer the direction of your responses. If the company does have a set of publicised values, it is likely that you will be asked to describe a situation where you have demonstrated each of these – So prepare in advance.
In addition to this, showing an interviewer that you have taken the initiative to learn more about the company will demonstrate your enthusiasm and shows that you are serious about this opportunity and are not applying for ‘just any role’.
Thorough research will also reduce your chances of being caught off guard and having to construct uninformed responses on the spot. For example, most interviewers will ask the question ‘Why do you want to work for us?’, so make sure you have carried out enough research to communicate the key aspects of the role, company or industry that interest you the most and how they match up with your skills and qualities.
2. Be Professional
First impressions count for everything and how you dress for your interview can be the difference between a job offer and a rejection – So plan your outfit in advance.
Every company has their own dress code, but whether you’re applying for a corporate Law firm or a casual tech company, it’s important to present yourself in a professional manner. Ditch the jeans and t-shirt, even for the more casual tech company - It’s always a good idea to be slightly over dressed than under dressed!
Aside from your appearance, it’s important to adapt a professional image through your body language and verbal communication. Be sure to begin your interview with a firm handshake and make regular eye contact throughout to convey your confidence.
It’s important to be diplomatic. You should never speak badly of a previous employer or colleague no matter what the situation was. Instead find ways to be soften the situation when explaining why you left a previous role or how your relationship was with a manager.
3. Be Thorough
Simple yes or no answers are a BIG no no!
Be thorough in your answers. It will be difficult for an interviewer to gauge whether you are a good fit for the role if your answers are short and vague. Read between the lines and think about what the interviewer is trying to find out from the questions they ask. Are they asking you to demonstrate your ability to work as a team? Show initiative? Or work to deadline?
The STAR technique is a great way to avoid vague answers and give the interviewer a fuller picture.
Provide context for the interviewer Where did the situation take place, why did it arise, who was involved?
Be specific about the duty you were tasked with in the situation.
What was your individual contribution? This is where you show how you assessed the situation and used your initiative to have a positive impact.
Your example should always have a positive result that can be fully or partly attributed to your individual actions. Are the results quantifiable? If so communicate this to the interviewer.
4. Ask questions
Whilst it is important to ask questions at the end of your interview, its more important to ask the right kind of questions.
Focus on asking questions that will show your interest in the company and your future within it –company processes, vision and career progression opportunities are always good topics. Steer clear of questions focusing on salary or job perks, this type of questioning can create the impression that you are only interested in what’s in it for you. It’s always a good idea to hold off on this type of discussion until a second interview when you are closer to securing the role and you have developed a greater rapport with the interviewer.
5. Be Yourself
Most importantly be yourself! Try to provide the interviewer with what they want to hear whilst remaining true to yourself. Avoid fabricating your abilities or interests and focus on impressing your interviewer with your skills, qualities and knowledge – And if it’s not enough then the role probably wasn’t a good fit for you.