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Preparing for Interview – Preparation is Key to Success

22 May 2015

So you’ve got an interview request; the one you really want.  You have gone to great lengths to get your CV dusted off and tailored to grab the right attention from a prospective employer and sold through your CV that you have the Technical skills and know-how to do the role they really need filled, so that’s the first hurdle climbed. The job should be yours and you know it but first things first, how do you impress your perspective employer now in the flesh and match that CV to the person behind it?

I take it for granted when I am preparing my candidates for interview that they take on board the essential steps and tips I give them for performing well in the interview scenario but in reality for anyone preparing well for an interview it can be a bit of a daunting task.

So here are some key areas to cover off in the run up to your interview which should hopefully leave you feeling confident that you’ve put your best foot forward to be selected for the position on offer.

Before the Interview

1) On most occasion’s you will be given substantial notice of your upcoming interview, so use this period to give yourself plenty of time to get prepared in advance for your meeting. If you get a weeks’ notice, use it wisely don’t leave it to the night before to start your preparation.

2) If you can, find out whom you will be meeting within the organisation and their current position. Try and do some research on their role and level of influence within the company using LinkedIn or other professional connections you may have.

3) Special circumstances – do you need to make a presentation, do you have an on-the-spot exercise to complete, technical test or hands on practical demonstration – knowing this beforehand means you can be mentally prepared!

4) Know the role and the responsibilities of the particular job. This will allow yourself to understand why you can do the position technically and why you think you are the right person for the role. 

Think of what you do already, how do you have what’s required for this position? Think of why you are applying for this role in the first instance and sell yourself through your examples and experiences.

5) Think about the company, what is their business? What’s important to them as an organisation? But more importantly, don’t just think about the obvious things you pick up from a company website and recite the age old employee numbers across X countries globally. If you understand them as a business they will be more impressed if you can get what you know across, aligned with why you want to work with them.

It could be technologies they specialise in, contracts or projects they are involved in, awards they have recently received, employee engagement schemes, and culture. So when you get the question “what do you know about us?” you can demonstrate clearly you are passionate about the type of company they are and you are the right fit for their organisation.

6) Understand the format of the interview - will it be one to one, panel, telephone or even maybe within a group? Anticipating this will mean you will can get more prepared for the situation. There are various styles of interviews used across industries and knowing the difference between them and how to prepare for each is really important.

Say you know in advance the company only conduct competency based interviews, you should be able to determine from the role profile and personal specification the competencies which they deem key to the success of the position. From that you can think through good examples from your working experiences to demonstrate these core competencies.

If the style of interview is more likely to focus on behavioural or situational type questions you need to be able to demonstrate how you have behaved in past similar circumstance or how you are likely to behave when put in a certain situation.

The important point here is knowledge is power and the more information you can obtain from your interview organiser in terms of interview style this will assist you in your preparation.


During the Interview

1) It is very common that employers in the interview situation want to know you as a person and how you behave, react and communicate in certain environments. Remember this when conducting yourself in your communication style. Don’t let your body language say different to what you are actually saying. Try to engage and build rapport with your interviewees but not in an over familiar or overconfident sense.

2) Be honest, clear, concise and confident in the examples you give which you feel demonstrate that you can do the role.

3) Have some appropriate and genuine questions prepared in advance of your interview as it will avoid any sticky situations when your interview is coming to a close.

4) Remember to take the time to shake your interviewers hand, thank them for their time and if you even enjoyed the experience make this clear.


Some other (maybe) obvious tips:

• Time, date and location of the interview – double check and confirm this to get it right!

•  Dress appropriately – check out online tips on how to dress formal and comfortably for an interview

• Leave yourself plenty of time to arrive early for your interview – there could be roadworks or a traffic accident on your journey

• Find out if there will be allocated parking as the last thing you want to do is turn up and find you need to drive around looking for a parking space

• Switch off your phone

• If you can, make a trial journey to your interview location, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area

• Bring along anything that is requested by the perspective employer e.g. documentation, certificates, presentation, portfolio, your CV etc.

Overall in an interview one of the most important things to remember is to be yourself, because an interview is a two way process, are you a good fit for the position and vice versa, is the company right for your career…after all what’s meant for you won’t pass you by.


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