If you gained some good hints from our previous blog and put them into practice, maybe you have now landed a job interview.
So, how do you prepare and ensure you do your best in it?
The first steps to success is learning as much about the business or company you want to work for. This includes the basic what they do/sell/produce, but dig a little deeper too.
If they have a website start here. This will give you a good picture of what the business does, what it values (keep an eye out for repeated words and phrases, these are likely part of their strategy), how it is structured and some of the key people.
Other online tools are reviews of the business and social platforms. Google can provide insight into how customers view the business and Seek often has ratings from past and present employees. Remember that people are mainly motivated to write a review on these platforms when they have a very strong opinion and most commonly, a negative one.
Facebook will also let you learn about what the company is talking to their customers and peers about, as well as any strong feedback from customers. Linkedin is a great tool to see who works for a company (especially larger organisations), and who you might be able to network with ahead of your interview.
Secondly, review the position description. Hopefully when you applied you saved this (if not, make this part of your process for every application from now on!), but if not, request a copy from the person offering you an interview. Highlight the skills and responsibilities identified in the PD. This is important for two interconnected reasons, it will give you some clues about what the interviewer(s) will ask you, but will also help you prepare answers that best show the skills needed for this job.
Write and practice some interview answers
Now you remember the selection criteria, and why you are a great fit, start thinking about how the interview may try to find out about your skills. We have compiled a checklist of generic interview questions here, but consider what an interviewer needs to find out for this specific role too.
Write answers to these questions that highlight the skills you can bring to the role. A great way to frame your answers is to use the STAR method. The acronym reminds you to frame answers by describing a SITUATION and TASK, the ACTION you took and what the RESULT was. This allows you to demonstrate your skills and how you used them.
if the interviewer asked you tell them about a mistake you’ve made and how you fixed it? A star response could be:
“While working for XXX flowers, I was responsible for ordering the floral arrangements for an event hosted by a high profile client. Unfortunately, I mixed up the information from another event, and the flowers were delivered to the wrong venue on the other side of the city (situation)(the task is omitted here as it is “to fix the mistake” in the question). I admitted my mistake to my boss, took an early lunch break, drove to the other venue, picked up the flowers and delivered them to the appropriate venue an hour before the event (action). The client never knew about my mix-up, and my boss was very grateful (result).”
This is a good example as it clearly explains the situation, action and response and shows the interviewer that the candidate was willing go the extra mile to make things right. It does this in a clear concise manner, which brings us to our next point.
Practice those answers
Once you have written down your STAR responses to the questions, get stuck into practising them out loud. Either read them to a mirror or enlist a friend or family member to role-play the interview with you. The more comfortable you can get delivering your answers ahead of time, the less nervous you will be on the day.
Most interviews will also have time for you to ask questions too. Not having any questions prepared may suggest that you are not well prepared or not overly interested in the role. So, while drafting and practising questions, consider a couple that you could ask too, and practice asking them. (BONUS bonus idea: try to ask open-ended questions, for instance: can you tell me about the team culture? rather than closed questions: is the team culture healthy? This will give you more information as well as let the interviewer do more of the talking)
Finally, prepare for the interview itself
An interview will be your first chance to make a personal impression on your (potential) new employer. Pick out an outfit that would be similar to what peers would be wearing at work. A good guide is a shirt with a collar, trousers and dress shoes for most positions, but if you saw current employees wear ties or dresses while you were doing your research, maybe dress up a little more. Ensure you are well-groomed, a haircut or trim can help you feel great and look your best. This applies whether the interview is in-person or via teleconference.
For in-person interviews, plan your travel, and plan to arrive early. It is far better to arrive early and have some spare time to go over your notes or relax before your interview than arriving at the last second. If you are concerned, or relying on public transport, consider doing a “dry run” a few days before the interview to test you know where the interview will take place, how you will get there and how long it will take.
If you are interviewing online or via teleconference, test the technology and your setup ahead of the interview. Have a friend call you at a similar time of day and check your connection is stable, your microphone and speakers are working and, if you will be appearing on camera that your lighting and surroundings are going to show you off well.
And then, Calm those nerves
It’s very normal to feel anxious or nervous ahead of an interview, but if you have read this guide and followed the advice, remember you have prepared well and put yourself in the best place to tackle it. Also, remember that the interviewer needs to fill this position too. Think about the interview being a chance for you to decide if the company is where you want to work, this changes the dynamic from an interrogation of you, to a conversation. The interviewer wants to hear what you have to say. And finally, just breathe, even the interviewer has been in your shoes at some point and they will be understanding of your position and doing their best to help you tell them why you are great for the job.
We hope this guide will help you crush your next interview. You can learn more about how to apply for roles in our previous blog here.