Attending a job interview is often a mandatory element of any job application and represents your final opportunity to demonstrate your skill and potential for the role.
Job interviews can be an anxious time for many people, which you can largely mitigate by making sure you’re as prepared as possible.
If you feel prepared and confident, this usually translates to your performance on the day.
In this article, we explore how you can properly prepare for a job interview, how you can prepare for certain questions and ensure that you present the best possible version of yourself to the employer.
How to prepare for a job interview
Preparing for a job interview can offer two benefits: Firstly it can help calm you down during the process and secondly it can ensure that you properly demonstrate your professionalism and skill set.
By adopting a clear plan of action, as well as having a better understanding of what you might face, you can provide a much better impression overall. The main steps to consider are as follows:
• Read through the job description
• Review your qualifications and skills
• Research the business you’re applying to
• Practice potential interview questions
• Practice any specialist questions you might face
• Consider questions you can ask in the interview
• Prepare your travel arrangements
Below we explore these different steps in broader detail:
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1. Read through the job description
Understanding the job description in full is a great first step to preparing for a job interview.
As a source of information directly from the employer, you can guarantee that the information inside is accurate and use this to your advantage.
A job description can help you understand what an employer is looking for, how you might fit their needs and help you tailor your application to suit the role.
It can also support you during the job interview as it may provide insights into the questions you can expect, what you need to talk about in more detail and any questions you might have for your potential new employer.
In general terms, the job description is your best bet for building a deeper understanding of the business and what to expect going forward.
2. Review your qualifications and skills
Now that you know what to expect, you know what skills and qualifications you want to show off during your interview.
The best thing about having this information? It doesn’t just apply to your interview but the entire application process – including building out your CV.
Keep in mind that the interviewer may expect you to explain any previous experience and achievements during your work history. Having a good understanding of your skills can help you answer this question more effectively.
3. Research the business you’re applying to
In most cases, a business doesn’t just recruit for a person with the exact skill set on the description. They also want someone that is going to fit the culture of the business. This is a topic that will likely appear during the interview and you can use it to demonstrate your personality and initiative.
By having a good understanding of the business and their culture, you’ll be in a much better spot to demonstrate how you can provide value over the long-term.
The best place to start this research? On their website or social media. Think about browsing the following sections:
• Their ‘About Us’ section
• Business values and mission statement
• Social media channels
• Industry news around the business
• Professional networking channels
• National or local news
Try and build a picture of what the company values, what they want to achieve and how they’re going to get there.
Also consider memorising some of the major achievements or successes in their history – if you bring this up in the interview you’ll demonstrate some initiative and show a passion for the business.
4. Practice potential interview questions
Once you have all of the research you need, physically act out your answers to certain interview questions.
It’s likely that you’ll be asked some ‘generic’ questions during your interview and having answers prepared for these can help you demonstrate your knowledge and preparedness.
If you want to pad out your answers with context, consider talking about past successes. For example, if you’re asked ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’, give the interviewer some context by explaining your overall goals and motivation.
This shows you’ve thought about career development and have ambition.
An example answer is:
“In five years I see myself being a Marketing Manager. I started as an intern in an agency and I’ve taken the time to build an understanding across multiple channels, earning various industry certifications and completing classes in leadership and management. This role as a Senior Marketing Executive will help me expand my current experience and support me in understanding how to lead a team to meet long-term objectives.”
5. Practice any specialist questions you might face
Alongside generic questions, you’ll also face specialist questions. It’s just as important to prepare full answers to these questions as this is where you can demonstrate technical knowledge.
This is more difficult to prepare for as it depends on the nature of the role you’re applying for but ultimately, try to give a well-rounded answer, stick to what the job description mentions and where you can, provide examples of these skills in action.
If you’re applying for a finance role, for example, you may have to provide information about specialist projects or processes that you’ve faced in your job role.
These are the most important questions to prepare for as it stops you being surprised during an interview, which can often derail your focus.
6. Consider questions you can ask in the interview
An interview typically ends with the interviewer asking you if you have any questions you’d like to ask. This is a key opportunity for you to engage with the interviewer, demonstrate active listening and show passion for the role.
Think about questions you can ask that offers useful information you want to know but also demonstrates your initiative and investment in a successful application. Questions may include:
• What’s a typical day for a person in this role?
• What’s the best thing about working in this company?
• How would you approach a specific problem such as a lack of resources?
• What are the next steps in the application process?
7. Prepare your travel arrangements
If you want an easy win that will help you feel confident, prepare your travel arrangements well in advance.
Plan how long it takes to get to the interview and factor in any traffic or issues you might face.
You typically want to get there around 10-minutes before the interview starts.
Likewise, consider preparing the outfit you’re going to wear the night before. This focuses you on the task at hand and represents another element you can control to provide further confidence.
Need inspiration on what to wear? Read our blog ‘What to Wear to a Job Interview’ here.