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How to prepare for an interview

A woman interviewing a man at a table

At some point, everyone will experience an interview in their lives. And at this time, remember to congratulate yourself! Securing an interview for a job (perhaps your dream job!) is not always easy, so you should be proud of yourself for getting to this point. In fact, only 2% of candidates (Job Description who apply for a job are selected to attend a job interview.

For a lot of people, in fact, the vast majority of people, an interview can make them feel nervous or anxious. For others, interviews may come completely naturally and they might be something they’re even excited about. Either way, it's important that you feel as prepared as possible before your interview, so we’ve collected some key tips to help you get through that interview with flying colours!

What’s the purpose of an interview?

An interview, at its simplest, can be seen merely as an exchange of information. The interviewee will tell the interviewer about themselves, why they are fit for the job, ask some questions about the company and provide their skillset. And the interviewer will ask questions about why the interviewee thinks they’re the right fit for the company, whether they have the right skills for the job and whether they can meet the job requirements.

As an interviewee, you should use it as an opportunity to get a feel for the company, see if your values align, and whether you can see your future career there. You should think about what you can bring to the company and be confident knowing that you’re qualified and capable of the job you’re applying for.

What are the different types of interviews? 

Interviews can come in a lot of different styles, and the most common are...

  • Face to face - this is the most common type, an interviewee will be asked various questions to see if they’re suitable for the role 
  • Video Call - there was a 67% increase (Job Description in the use of video interviews from 2020 – 2021, these will be mostly the same as face to face interviews 
  • Phone call - sometimes these are used as a ‘pre-interview’ so the employer can discuss things such as hours and what they’re wanting from the role. It’s similar to a screening process
  • Group - these are a good chance for an employer to see how someone can work in a team and their interpersonal skills
  • Panel - interviews aren’t always 1-to-1, sometimes multiple people who have an interest in the role that’s being hired for will be part of the interview process to see whether the candidate can fulfil the role that might be across multiple departments
  • Lunch - a more casual interview style, this might be used for an existing employee or someone the interviewer already knows, but you would discuss the role over a lunch

What should I do to prepare for an interview? also reports that the most common reason why someone might fail a job interview is a lack of understanding of the role. On top of this, they report 4 in 10 employers would reject an interviewee if they showed no enthusiasm. So what can you do to ensure you’re prepared for the interview?

Interviewers will ask lots of questions about you, the role and how you’d fit into the company, and it’s important to think about how you might answer their questions. Preparation is key! So consider some of the following tips to make sure you’re well prepared:

  • Research the employer & the job
    Make sure you find out as much as you can about the employers, look at their website, order/download a brochure, look at their social media, look at the staff page
    As mentioned above, failing a job interview can be linked to a lack of understanding of the role, so make sure you read the job description thoroughly, it might also be worth looking at the same role at other companies to see if there’s something else you might be asked to do
  • Know your own skills
    How do they allow you to meet the job description? What does your experience allow you to bring to the job? Think of examples when you have done demonstrated something asked for in the job description
  • Confidence
    Confidence is key. Twin Employment found that “40% of interviewers stated that the quality of a candidate’s voice and their overall confidence was a reason for not taking their candidacy further.” If confidence is not something that comes naturally to you, there are things you can do to build your confidence
  • Communication skills
    This is one of the most common skills that someone will list on a CV, but how can you demonstrate it in the interview? Active listening, body language, and tone of voice are good starting points, but the interview might also want examples of when you’ve shown good communication skills too. If you think you could brush up on your communication, online training might be a good starting point
  • Are you lacking any hard skills they are asking for?
    Perhaps you could take an online course for a skill that you don’t have they would like, or show that you have at least researched into something that will help you to gain that skill
  • Or are there any soft skills you’re lacking?
    Personal and professional development is a good starting point if you feel you’re lacking certain soft skills, perhaps it’s in Problem Solving? Time Management or Customer Service Training? You can complete these courses in as little as 10 mins and gain a certificate at the end to show your potential employer 
  • Print everything off that you need
    You should always take a copy of your CV to your interview. You might also want to take a pen, the job description, some water, and you might be asked for some things by the employer like your ID or copies of certificates. 
  • Prepare answers to questions
    You should prepare yourself for some of the most common interview questions, or questions you might be asked that are specific to your role. See below for some of the most common interview questions…
  • Plan your journey
    If you’re driving, allow time for traffic, if you’re getting public transport, allow for delays. Always try to arrive early rather than late, and if you do get there super early, take a seat in a coffee shop or in your car to go over your notes!

Example interview questions you should prepare for...

  • Tell me more about yourself?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why do you think you’re suitable for the role?
  • Why do you want to leave your current role?
  • What are your strengths? / What are your weaknesses?
  • Can you give me an example of when you managed…? (A difficult situation, a difficult customer, difficult situation)
  • What are your future goals?
  • What's your greatest achievement?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake and how/if you resolved the situation?
  • What made you apply to this position?
  • What motivates you?

And many more.

Other key tips for an interview…

  • Be polite and smile
  • Think about what you wear, some interviews might call for smart or casual attire, but you should always do your best to appear smart. When in doubt - dress smart! 
  • Sit upright and try not to fidget too much
  • Be clear and concise - try not to speak too quickly to talk about things that are irrelevant
  • Show your interest in the job or company by drawing on something you found in your research
  • Be enthusiastic, show your keenness for the job
  • Be confident - if you’re prepared you should have all the things you need!
  • Send a follow-up email after the interview - just to thank the employer for their time and what you enjoyed and were excited for

If you would like to know more about the online training you can take to improve your skills or awareness on a particular topic, you can gain instant access to any of our soft skills courses today.

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