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Things to remember when preparing for a job interview

There are few things that make us as nervous as a job interview so, with many people claiming that it’s an ordeal to rival their wedding day, we decided to prepare some things to help you get through your next big day (interview, not wedding!).

Preparation is the key:

  • Make sure you know where you are going, who you are seeing and obtain a brief history of the company as this will help create a good first impression and show the interviewer that you have done your research – giving you the edge over other candidates who are less prepared.

  • Ensure you get a good night’s sleep – A day of work on a few hours of sleep is hard enough, let alone going in to meet with a potential future boss to sell yourself to them. Aim for 8 hours of sleep and wake up with enough time to ensure you are not rushing and flustered as you want to be cool, calm and collected.

  • Eat! In this modern age, a strong cup of coffee now replaces our primary meal of the day, breakfast. Before an interview, make sure you eat something and think pre-workout food to keep your mental state quick and full of energy, allowing you to perform to your best.

  • Research the company website – This will give you an insight into the different sectors and projects that they deal with and also any recent events that the company has undertaken.

  • Consider what questions they might ask and plan your answers – Aim to answer the questions fully and give examples to enhance your responses further; remember that, if you feel that you don’t understand a question, you can always let the interviewer know so they can choose another way to ask it.

  • Dress smartly and appropriately as first impressions count.

  • Plan your journey and allow extra time for traffic delays and unforeseen issues

  • Take note of their telephone number so that you can call them if you are running late

  • Positivity! – Before, during and after, keep positive affirmations up. Visualise the entire process going well and you getting the job. This confidence will help you sound more assertive and will keep you smiling through the nerves.

  • Arrive 10 minutes early

  • Remember to switch your mobile off – not just on vibrate!

  • Prepare some questions to ask at the close of the interview such as:

  1. What progression opportunities are there for this position and how is good performance rewarded?

  2. What are the plans for the company and the department?

  3. What are the benefits of working for the company?

During the interview:

  • Give a firm handshake – This can portray an image of confidence and assertiveness, a firm handshake can be critical to some employers

  • Answer the questions you are asked concisely and provide evidence to support your answers – You’re an expert in your field so give your answers confidently and show the interviewer that you know your industry. Use evidence to support your thinking and, if you have yet to perform certain duties that the role entails, explain this and suggest how you would go about performing them hypothetically.

  • Allow the Interviewer to control and guide the meeting – Answer the questions fully, sit back, and let the interview flow. The interviewer will have a routine and it can be off-putting if an interviewee is trying to change the path of direction.

  • Avoid being negative at all costs – It’s good to be realistic but employers generally want team members who are enthusiastic and positive so feel free to let the interviewer know your reasons for leaving your current employer, just avoid getting carried away!

  • Turn weaknesses into strengths – If you cannot yet perform certain tasks that they require, explain how you are keen to develop and would welcome training. Most employers will welcome the opportunity to develop their employees.

  • Be aware of your body language – Slumping in the chair, arms crossed, hand in front of face/mouth all give the wrong impression (a note to some interviewers here too!).

  • Ask your pre-rehearsed questions at the close of the meeting, this will demonstrate your pre-interview preparation

  • Play to your strengths – Make sure you highlight your strengths and match them to how you feel they suit the role you are interviewing for.

  • Feel free to make notes during the interview as this will show the employer you are taking the meeting seriously and will give you something to refer back to afterwards – There may be a second interview to prepare for!

  • Stand out by taking along a portfolio of achievements with you – Flicking through a nicely presented file containing training certificates, written references, and photographs of specific projects and events that you have worked on, shows the interviewer how much you care about your job.

After the event:

  • Feedback - If you get the job, well done! If you were unlucky this time ask for feedback on how you performed as this may be valuable when preparing for your next interview.

  • Consider who else will be affected by you changing jobs and how they feel about it. You have likely involved them before now but don’t leave it too late if not!

  • If the interview was arranged by a recruitment agency then the following will be useful for them to know when you call to discuss how it went:

  1. What did you think of the interviewer(s)?

  2. How was the opportunity described?

  3. What interests you about the opportunity?

  4. What reservations do you have?

  5. What future can you see for yourself at the company?

  6. Was the salary and benefits package discussed, and what salary would you require if an offer was made?

  7. Would you return for a further interview if invited and ultimately accept an offer? If not then what was it that put you off and how could this help you when considering future opportunities?