by Chris Morrow
Interview preparation is the key to a successful interview. It is difficult to understand how candidates sometimes manage to overlook this crucial step.
If you have prepared well for an interview, you are likely to stand out from other candidates. This is because you will
- Be more confident
- Give better responses to the interview questions
- Ask the most relevant and interesting questions
Showing up to an interview well-prepared demonstrates that you are a proactive prospective employee who has a passion and enthusiasm towards your prospective employer and the role. Having spent time on interview panels in both the Public and Private sectors, I can say from first-hand experience that it is very easy for interviewers to pick out the candidates who have done their homework.
These are the 4 areas I recommend you focus on in your preparation.
1. Researching the Company for the Job Interview
The first thing to do is to make sure you know as much as possible about the company (the prospective employer). The best place to do this, is of course, the company’s website. Their website should tell you a lot of information about what they do as a business, how they started out, who is in charge, where they are located and how many staff they have etc.
Take notes whilst you review the company website. Summarise the key points to study in the days leading up to the interview. Most interviewers will ask you what you know about the company. Understanding your prospective employer is the best way to demonstrate that you have bought into the idea of working for their business. It is also the easiest way to impress the interviewers by letting them know you have done your interview preparation early in the interview.
Aside from the company’s website, you can also see what you can find by ‘Googling’ the company. Another great source of information is LinkedIn. You can do some reading into the company here as well as the types of roles they have, where they are located and what type of employees they have.
Also, remember to double check where your interview is taking place and ensure you leave yourself more than enough time to get there!
2. Researching the Role before the Job Interview
The next thing to prepare is your knowledge of the role you are interviewing for. Try and get your hands on the position description for the role. If you do not have the full job description source a copy of the job advertisement. Don’t forget to re-read your response to the advertisement as well.
Just like you did with the company website, take some notes from the job description and make sure you list all of the essential skills as well as all of the desirable skills they mention. This will provide the backbone to preparing the answers to some of the more general interview questions you are likely to face.
As well as the essential and desirable skills, make sure you pay special attention to the behavioural competencies if they are mentioned anywhere.
This will take the shape of behavioural / competency based interview questions so do not overlook these.
3. The Synergy
Now you should know exactly what the role entails and what the interviewers are looking for in their ideal candidate. You have done the hard work! The next step is the single most critical part in the whole preparation process – The Synergy! I am always amazed by how many candidates fail to address this question. It is after all why they should hire you! It is absolutely imperative that you draw some synergy between what the interviewers are looking for in their ideal candidate and your own experience. This is where you really sell yourself against the essential and desirable skills provided in the job description or advertisement.
Have a read over the notes you made around the role and the job description and for each point prepare an example of how you meet the criteria. Practise this for the behavioural competencies as well and by the end of this exercise you will have put some serious thought into answers to some of the questions you are likely to face during the interview. You will always ensure that you are actively selling your skills and experience against the criteria the prospective employer has laid out in the job description.
4. The Job Interview Questions
Most interviews will conclude with the panel asking the candidate if they have any questions. This is a great way to leave a lasting impression on the interviewers and cement your place at the front and centre of their minds. It is also extremely important because when you leave the interview room, you want to be fully informed about the role and what it would be like to work for the company.
Remember that the purpose of the interview is also about you finding out if the company and the role are right for you, as it is for the company to find out if you are the right person for them! As part of the interview preparation, I would recommend preparing four or five questions around the role and the company, as well as one question that is completely unique that you think no-one else will ask.
This will require some thought, however, if you get this right you will have created a talking point amongst the interviewers and this will make you all the more memorable as a job seeker.
Here is how to approach your interview preparation
- Know as much as possible about the prospective company
- Know as much as possible about the prospective role
- Draw synergy between what they are looking for and your own skills & experience
- Go into the interview armed with 4 or 5 really good questions
Good interview preparation will present you as a proactive and knowledgeable prospective employee. It will also make you appear more confident. Who wouldn’t hire that candidate!?
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