One of the most crucial things you can do before going into an interview is to prepare. If you’re at the interview stage, you can be pretty certain that your potential employer thinks you can do the job, and you have to prove it to them.
If you go in underprepared, you’ll have less chance of success – it’s almost like self-sabotage.
You’ll probably be up against stiff competition, so it’s important that you give yourself the best chance you can of making a great first impression, answering typical interview questions well and asking intelligent questions of your own.
So, what’s the best way to prepare for an interview? These are our best tips for success.
How to prepare for an interview
1. Practice makes perfect
Interviews take the same shape. You go in, shake hands with your interviewer(s), introduce yourself, answer questions and ask your own. Practising each of these steps will go a long way to calming your nerves and boosting your confidence.
Ask a friend or family member to ask as the interviewer – yes, it might feel a little embarrassing, but you’ll feel so much more confident on the day.
2. Prepare your answers to common interview questions
There are a number of questions that come up during most interviews, so having your answers ready in advance is a good idea, and being able to answer them smoothly will give a good impression. Common questions include:
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- Why do you want this role?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
You’ll also probably be asked what you know about the company you’re interviewing for, which leads us on to…
3. Research the company
Going into an interview without knowing much about the company that might be your next employer is almost unforgivable.
As you’re researching them, think about what their business model is, who their main competitors are and how they’re positioned in the market. You’re not going to impress if you give vague details about the industry or obvious facts gleaned from a five-minute scan of their website. You’ll need to show you’ve done your homework and that you can analyse and evaluate what you’ve read to give some personal insights and views.
4. Get to grips with personality questions
A lot of interviews now include personality questions, so it’s important to prepare for these, too.
Personality questions uncover your work ethic and how you approach work, and are important to employers because they’ll reveal how you’ll fit into a team or business culture. And yes, there’s also a personal level here. Interviewers want to get to know you so they can determine if you’re a good fit for the role.
These types of interview questions include:
- How do you handle pressure?
- What motivates you?
- How would you describe yourself?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What does success look like to you?
It’s important to remember that these questions aren’t designed to catch you out, and there’s no right or wrong answer. You must be honest as you answer them, as it’s all about finding a suitable match for the position – and that goes for you, too. These types of questions will help you determine whether the role will suit you.
5. Rehearse your personal elevator pitch
One of the most common first questions in an interview is “tell us a bit about yourself.” This can be a hard question to answer if you haven’t rehearsed it since it’s such a wide question it’s hard to know where to start.
A good way to approach this is to think of it as your personal elevator pitch. What would you say in two minutes that covers the most important things about you as it pertains to this role. That’s the key – make sure your answer relates to the position you’re interviewing for. You might want to cover why you’re suited for the role by giving examples of your experience and achievements (both professional and personal). Be specific, and try to relate it to the job description.
6. Ask questions
An interview goes both ways, and you should ask your own questions, too. This will help you determine whether the role and the company are right for you, and at the same time it shows that you’re engaged, enthusiastic and committed – all typical characteristics that a potential employer will be looking for.
Here are five interview questions that we would recommend asking:
- Can you describe the company culture?
- What do I need to accomplish in the first three months?
- How do you see this role evolving over the next five years?
- What do you like most about working here?
- Which areas may the team need to improve in?
7. Know what not to do
So far, our interview preparation tips have all been about what you should do. But what about the things you shouldn’t do? There are quite a few of those, too, and the ones we hear about most often include waffling about things that are irrelevant, not showing enough enthusiasm and being more interested in the company rather than the role itself.
8. Get an interview coach
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or want an external perspective and advice on how to nail an interview for your dream job, you might want to think about interview coaching.
Coaching can help make sure you hit the exacting criteria of a successful interview, covering things like:
- Learning from constructive feedback and comments
- Improving body language and interpersonal skills
- Gaining inside industry knowledge
- Mock interviews and interview dry runs
- Gaining additional confidence and developing self belief
If you’d like specific advice on interview techniques, including online or virtual interview coaching, call us on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to our interview coaches who are ready to help you get that role.