How to prepare for an interview
Whilst many individuals are well versed in interview techniques a large minority of the working population have neither ever had a formal interview or have not had one in over five years. The below are some useful tips on how best to prepare:
Often the first question posed of an interviewee is “what do you know about us?”. Failing to have an answer or providing one that is not well researched is a certain way of starting the interview in a way from which it may never recover. The internet is a wonderful tool and even the smallest companies have an online presence, so ensure that you spend time finding out when the company was established, roughly how many people work there or whether they have any specialisms. Many firms post news updates some of which will provide not just information on the company but more importantly give a flavour of their culture. Do not worry about an exhaustive response; a few sentences focused on the main issues will suffice.
Arrive on time!
Make sure you have a good idea as to where a company is based and how you plan on getting to that location. Arriving late will not only give a terrible first impression but will also put you into a panic meaning that your interview will likely be a poor one.
Dress to impress
First impressions are extremely important and psychologists have proved that many people decide on who they want to employ within the first 30 seconds of meeting them. How you dress and look, however superficial that might feel, is a huge part of this.
Most interviewers will ask broadly similar questions. “What skills would you bring to the role?”, “Why do you want to join us” and “Tell me about yourself” are amongst the most common. Do not make it sound too rehearsed but thinking clearly about how you anticipate answering such questions before you arrive for the interview will serve you well. Make sure you keep your answers succinct and business focused.
Focus on the positives
A major reason that candidates are declined is because they have been too negative, primarily about their last or previous positions. Obviously people want to recruit positive, optimistic people and those without this demeanour will find it more difficult as firms might worry that they will affect the energy of the team that they are joining. It is fine to talk about negatives; why else would you be looking at changing jobs! But there is a way of doing it without bringing up every issue you have ever had and by focusing on the positives. “I didn’t feel that they were a particularly supportive company, but it taught me that I am someone who needs to be challenged hence why taking exams is important for me” sounds much better than “they wouldn’t pay for my exams which really annoyed me so I have decided to leave”.
You may well be asked about your ambitions. Give an honest appraisal of where you see yourself in the future but do not be too specific. Countless candidates have lost out because they have stipulated that they must have a promotion, or be paid a certain amount, by a specific point in the future. Companies will be cautious about prospects as they do not wish to over-promise especially because you will have to prove yourself first. “I would like the opportunity to consider becoming an adviser in the future, obviously once we both feel I am ready” will not worry a firm. “I want to be an adviser in two years” will.
Have a number of questions prepared to ask at the end of the interview. Avoid questions about how many holidays you will get, or what day you get paid however! You have worked hard to create a favourable impression so make sure you do not undo all that hard work. Leave with a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and don’t forget to smile.