Preparing yourself – Fail to plan, plan to fail
You must be able to sell yourself and talk confidently about your experiences and motivation. You must also speak passionately about the new position.
Just like when you’re going into a test, feel confident that you can field any question they throw at you, and try to feel as good about yourself as you can. It really does shine through. Here are a few great tips:
Research the interviewers: This can be done through your network or via linkedin. Sometimes, you might share experience or contacts and everyone will be impressed with a bit of research.
The Job Description: Ensure you are familiar with the details of the position both via the Job Description and any other information your recruiter can share with you. You need to think how you can impact on the job in hand and use your own skills and experience to the best effect. Try and think about the types of questions you are likely to be asked and practice them accordingly.
Have a mock interview with a friend based on the common interview questions you’re likely to face.
Be sure you know the time, date and location of the interview and the name of the interviewers.
Decide how you will get there and when you need to set off to arrive in good time, anticipating any delays.
Do a dummy run if necessary.
If you look good, you tend to feel good too. Avoid any last minute panic by preparing what you’re going to wear the night before.
Don’t go into the interview with lots of baggage – psychological or physical. Take the bare minimum with you so you can concentrate on the interview, and nothing else.
If you are asked to bring certificates, references etc., get them ready well in advance to avoid having to chase around on the morning of the day.
Check their website for information on the brand/company, most importantly, information relating to their values and competencies. Ensure that you are familiar with the company.
There are only really a handful of interview questions – When it comes down to it, there are only 10 interview questions that really count. Sure, there are hundreds of different ways your interviewer may choose to ask them, but every interview question is actually just a variation of the 10 themes.
The good news is, once you’re able to identify each theme effectively, you’ll be able to prepare honest, personal answers that will impress any interviewer.
These questions range from interview favourites such as, ‘what are your weaknesses’ and ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ through to competency based questions like ‘tell me about a time where you worked as part of a team’. Research them online – there are hundreds of websites or any number of great books that will help.
Remember, one of the most common interview questions is “Tell me about yourself”. Prepare a balanced and succinct answer to this question, not a life history. Keep it business-like and don’t stray into personal feelings or family relationships. Avoid anything to do with politics or religion. Interviewers use this question to learn about your personal qualities, not your achievements – they should already have those from your CV.
The Most Common Interview Questions
What can you tell me about yourself?
Can you list your strengths?
What weaknesses do you have?
Why should I consider hiring you?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Why do you want to work here?
What is your salary expectation?
What motivates you?
What makes a good team player?
Is there anything that you would like to ask me?
As per question the last question, most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions after they’ve finished grilling you, so be prepared to make the most of it. Try to concentrate on issues that are important to you and combine an interest in the company with an interest in the job.
This is one of the simplest things to prepare and one of the most common to get wrong. If you don’t prepare some intelligent questions beforehand, you may find yourself asking what the working hours are and how long you get for lunch (neither good questions to ask at interview!) just to fill the space.
Here is a simple way to think about the questions you should ask, especially at an early round interview:
Consider you have been offered the job and have already started in the role. In your first week, you have had a series of meetings arranged to meet key stakeholders in the business you have joined. What questions would you ask in those meetings that will help you to understand what you would need to know and the best ways to succeed in your new job? You may find yourself speculating about the answers when thinking about these questions.
With a wide variety of interview styles and structures, there’s every possibility that everything you want or need to know about the job will have been covered over the course of the interview. There is always more information available though and if you don’t have at least five questions prepared, you’ll come across as passive rather than curious and interested.