We’ve been helping candidates to find their ideal job for over a decade, and we’ve learned a lot about the art of acing an interview.
Even if you’ve been around the job-hunting track a few times, making some time to fully prepare and brush up on your techniques when you re-enter the market will give you the potential head-start that you need to elevate yourself above the competition.
Here we take a quick look at seven essential interview preparation tips that we’ve found to make a big difference in candidate success rates...
Our seven essential interview preparation tips
By entering your interview feeling fully prepared, not only will you maximise your performance, but your pre-interview nerves and stress levels will be reduced.
Use the following tips as a checklist every time you’re successful in an application, so you’re ready for the next stage:
- Research – find out as much as you can about the company, the industry and any specifics relating to the vacancy you’re hoping to fill, and always make sure you know the name of the interviewer(s) so you can address them directly and create an instant rapport. Include research into their overall culture too, so you can show them why you’re the perfect fit. We’ll brief you about the vacancy before putting you forward so can give you some inside information, but your own research will also pay dividends.
- Practice – make a list of common interview questions, and go through the job spec in detail to identify the types of questions they’re most likely to ask. Jot down some notes of how you’d respond to each one, focusing on providing solid evidence and examples to highlight your skills and knowledge. If you can, get a friend or family member to do a role-playing session with you so you can practice formulating your answers out loud. There’s more detail in our interview tips blog here
- Timing – it should go without saying, but NEVER turn up late for an interview. Do a trial-run of the journey beforehand if it’s an unfamiliar route, consider the time of day and traffic conditions and aim to arrive at reception 5 – 10 minutes before your allocated timeslot. It will also save you time and stressful last minute decision-making if you get your interview clothes ready the night before.
- Prompt not script – it’s perfectly ok to take notes into an interview, but use them as a prompt and only if really necessary, rather than keeping your eyes glued on them to hide your nerves. They’re there as a backup plan rather than acting as a strict script to follow – the interview should flow naturally, and you might need to demonstrate that you can think on your feet under pressure.
- Crunch your terminology – there’s a lot of job-specific terminology out there, so make sure you give yourself a quick refresher of your own skills and sector – especially if you’re moving into a slightly different area. For example, if you’re going for an accountancy interview, you’ll be expected to know what terms such as cashflow and working capital mean – and give a quick and concise answer if asked.
- Ask relevant questions – most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions at the end of your meeting – seize it! Steer away from generic questions and try to keep focused on issues that are relevant to the position or department you’ll be working in. Show that you’re eager to learn and embrace opportunities for professional development and internal progression.
- Put your best foot forward – from the clothes you choose, to the way you interact with everyone from a security guard or receptionist to interviewer, always show respect for yourself and others; be professional but genuinely friendly and avoid any strong smelling foods, drinks or tobacco products beforehand.
It’s perfectly natural to feel a little anxious before an interview, but by following our preparation tips you’ll find the process much less stressful and perhaps even enjoyable – and remember that our experienced recruitment consultants are always on hand if you need any advice.