Making a good impression during an interview can lead to the next step in your career. But how can you do this? Preparation before interview is essential. The practical steps below are aimed at those of you who have little or no interview experience to individuals who regularly market themselves through recruitment processes.
Review your job application
I recommend saving each job advert and supporting documentation along with your application. This can be particularly helpful if you are sending out multiple applications. As part of your preparation, you should look over the job description, person specification and your application e.g. CV, covering letter, supporting statement or application questions.
Task: Ask yourself the following questions. Why did I apply for this job? What aspects of the role interest me? How did I evidence the criteria in my application?
Research the employer
You need to demonstrate your motivations for wanting the job and to work for the organisation. Your research and motivations need to be personal. Online research can include visiting the employer’s website. You might want to look at the values, departments, clients, working culture, corporate social responsibility and awards. Consider how you know this employer. Have you networked with employees? Do you have connections on LinkedIn?
Task: Make a list of what interests you about the role and organisation. For each point consider how you can link this to you.
Prepare your examples
A lack of evidence when answering questions is something that prevents many candidates from getting a job offer. It can be difficult to talk about yourself. But the interviewer(s) want to hear what you are capable of. When giving evidence, try ‘storytelling’ using the STAR technique. Adopt this to clearly paint a picture of the background, what you had to do, what you actually did and the outcome.
Using a range of examples demonstrates that you can thrive in diverse environments. When evidencing soft skills e.g. communication, teamwork and problem-solving draw on experiences from work, university (or other professional qualifications) and co-curricular activities.
Situation – the context; where you were and when
Task – the goal; what you had to create or solve
Action – steps take; what you personally did
Result – outcome; what the result was
Task: Find out what type of interview it will be e.g. competency-based, strength-based or technical. Start preparing your examples and use paper or post-it notes to help structure your answers. Practice these with a friend, family member or HR/careers professional. Alternatively, you can record your answers on your smartphone and listen back in your spare time.
Questions for interviewer(s)
It is worth having some questions for the interviewer(s). If you know the name(s) you can research their profile(s) on the organisation’s website or LinkedIn. You might have questions in relation to his/her role, an aspect of the organisation or the impact of current affairs on an industry.
Confidence in each aspect
As part of the interview process, many employers can use multiple forms of assessment. These can include presentations, group tasks, client simulations and in-tray or e-tray exercises. Try to obtain as much information about the format of the interview as possible. Ensure you prepare for every aspect. There are many credible websites for you to practice assessments for free and at a cost.
Being selected for interview is an achievement. Be confident in your attributes and motivations. It is not always about getting the job. The purpose of the interview is to identify if you can do the job and if you would be a good fit for the organisation. At the same time, you will get a sense of whether the environment and role are for you.