If you’ve got a job interview scheduled, congratulations! You’re one step closer to working in your dream role. Now is a crucial time for preparation. With the right planning, you can prepare yourself for whatever questions your employer may ask and increase the chances of acing your interview.
In this article, we explore the different ways you can prepare for an interview and the top job interview tips for success.
What should you consider in a job interview?
Planning for your job interview is just as important as your performance. By taking the proper steps, you can ensure you feel comfortable and confident for your interview. The key things to consider – and what we’ll be discussing in this article – are:
- How to prepare answers for a job interview
- Questions to ask the employer
- How to create a good first impression with the employer
- What you need to take to the interview
- Tips on body language and manners
Top job interview tips for success
In the days leading up to the interview, take the time to consider the potential questions you might face and how you can answer them in the best possible way.
It’s likely that you’ll face a number of ‘generic’ questions that test your work ethic and personality, alongside more technical questions that measure your knowledge and understanding.
The steps to preparing answers for a job interview include:
- Research: One of the most important job interview tips is that you should always research the company that you’re applying for as this can provide context for your answers. During your research phase, learn what the requirements of the role are, how your background matches these requirements and if possible, the overall culture and feel of the business. With this information, you can align your answers with the company ethos and create a more confident answer.
- Consider common questions: It’s likely that you’ll face the question “tell me about yourself.” This is a typical query by employers as it allows them to build an understanding of your work history, experience and how you like to work. Within your answer, you want to quickly demonstrate your professional background and how that will deliver value for an employer.
- Run through the job description: Take the time to re-read the job description and understand exactly what the employer is looking for. Fundamentally, everything the employer wants to hear and know is written in this job description. Consider how your skills and experience align with elements of the description and build a bank of examples where you can demonstrate these skills.
- Physically practice: Roleplaying the interview is a good way of building confidence and seeing how your answers sound in a real-world setting. Ask a friend or family member to play the part of the interviewer and respond as you would in the interview.
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Questions to ask the employer
Every interviewer will give you the opportunity to ask your own questions at some point in the interview.
This is the ideal time to demonstrate initiative and that you’ve properly considered your place in the organisation.
While it can be tempting to not ask questions if you feel the interview has gone well, it’s still a useful opportunity to further highlight your potential.
Some questions you might want to ask include:
- Can you explain what the day-to-day of this role might look like?
- How will my performance in this role be measured?
- Does this role work with other teams and what does that collaboration look like?
- What challenges are the team or organisation currently facing?
- What characteristics are you looking for in someone who would succeed in this position?
How to create a good first impression with the employer
It’s a cliche but first impressions matter a lot. In a typical application process, the job interview is the first time that you’ll meet your potential employer face-to-face. While you might have spoken over the phone or on a video conference, an interview is a different matter entirely as you have to consider body language and other factors.
First and foremost, dress accordingly. It’s one of the key job interview tips and we’ve written about what to wear for a job interview in another article but it still holds true regardless of the role you’re going for. During your research phase, consider trying to identify the proper dress code that the company maintains or, if you’re working with a recruiter, ask them.
When you’re planning for the interview, consider how you’re going to get there and how long it’ll take.
You ideally want to arrive at an interview early and give yourself – and the employer – time to prepare. Arriving 10 minutes before your appointment is usually a safe bet. Any earlier and you risk surprising the employer who may have a busy schedule. Any later and you run the risk of turning up late which provides a bad first impression.
Finally, when you greet the interviewers, maintain good eye contact, greet each person individually and look positive! Negative body language is easy to spot and may instantly dampen the first impression.
What do you need to take to the interview?
In the run-up to your interview, you’ll likely receive communication from the employer on what you’re expected to take to the appointment. Depending on the role you’re applying for, this may include a task such as a written piece of work or presentation.
That said, one of the major job interview tips to remember is that there are some basic things you should take to every interview:
Extra copies of your CV: While employers will likely already have a printed copy of your CV and cover letter to hand, it’s good to have spares that you can hand out to anyone else within the interview.
A method of taking notes: It’s always a good sign for employers if a candidate takes notes during the interview. This demonstrates diligence and commitment. While you may consider using a laptop or a notebook, try to avoid using a smartphone as this can seem unprofessional. Don’t forget to still maintain eye contact while you’re taking notes.
All of your additional assets in a single place: While it may seem a simple thing, having any additional assets such as your questions, documentation or tasks in a single place shows organisation skills. In most cases, an interviewee may choose to collate all of their assets and keep them in a single physical portfolio that they can easily refer to.
Having physical media to hand is always useful in an interview as it mitigates the risk of technical issues that can occur with a laptop. If you are presenting slides, for example, feel free to use a digital version but print physical copies in the event of a computer fault.
Tips on body language and manners
While we’ve already discussed the importance of good manners and positive body language, why is it one of the key tips for a job interview? Non-verbal communication is just as much a skill as verbal communication, especially in an interview setting.
Good body language is simple: Make eye contact with the person you’re speaking to and frequently make eye contact with others during the conversation – this ensures they feel seen and heard. Try to keep a good posture, sit back and keep your shoulders back – don’t lounge or lean over furniture. Smile as much as you can without seeming overbearing or overly positive. It’s important to keep a positive demeanour.
Treat every person during the entire process with respect: People often forget that it’s not just the interviewer that can have an impact on the interview. How you speak with a receptionist, assistant, employees you meet or fellow candidates can impact the process. If you maintain this same respect, you increase your chances of success in the event the interviewer asks around for feedback.
Remember, polite greetings and farewells: It’s probably one of the oldest tips for a job interview but when you first meet your interviewer(s) remember your manners. When they extend their hand for a handshake, look the other person in the eye and provide a firm, but not crushing, handshake to each person individually. When you finish the interview, thank them for their time.
Send a follow-up: This is more of a judgement call but if you feel that it’s appropriate, you may take the time to send a follow-up email after the interview. This could be a simple ‘thank you for your consideration’ email or may provide further details if that was something that was mentioned in the interview. In some cases, an employer may ask you to send a portfolio or examples of work that arises out of the conversation.