If you're not used to the process, it can be hard to know how to prepare for an interview. Luckily, preparing for an interview is quite simple when you know what to do. They say that preparation can make or break an interview, so be sure to follow these tips to give yourself the best chance while job hunting.
- Read the job description carefully
- Research the company
- Try the company service/product
- Research the industry
- Research the position
- Find out who the interviewer(s) will be
- Practise your self-presentation
- Prepare answers to common interview questions
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer(s)
- Be prepared for eventual reservations
- Work on your body language
- Practice in front of an audience
- Prepare a reference list
- Prepare the outfit you will wear at the interview in advance
- Pack your bag in advance
- Have your travel planned out
- Bring a copy of your CV
- Have a break before the interview
- Arrive in good time
- Smile and relax
20 tips for a great interview
There are many factors to think about before an interview. Here are our top tips on how to prepare for a job interview.
Ready to smash your interviews? Join the UK's number-one graduate careers network and get exclusive access to jobs, events, networking opportunities, advice and more.
Undoubtedly, you already read the job description carefully when you applied for the job, but it's likely that a few days or even weeks have passed since then. It's easy to forget the details of the job description during this time. Be sure to re-read the advert properly, so that you know what to talk about and highlight in the interview.
Doing some basic research into the company helps make sure that you know what kind of ethos, values and focus it has. It shows you have an interest in the company, which makes you look better in interviews. Be sure to research the history of the company, their values and aim, as well as what kind of community and feel you can expect from working there.
If you can, you should absolutely try what the company offers. This can help you get an idea of what they do. For example, do they focus on customer service? Or do they focus on customisation? You can tie this into what you want to focus on when working with them.
As well as researching the company, you should also research the industry itself. Look at the general market trends in the industry, what competitors this company has and what the future of the industry looks like. Having this knowledge can show the interviewer how serious you are.
Being commercially aware and knowing what's going on in your industry will help you stand out during the interview process. Brush up on your commercial awareness with this free e-learning module.
While every company has slightly different duties and tasks for the same role, it's good to look into what you'd generally be doing in this kind of role. The more knowledge you have, the more serious you seem and the more initiative you show.
It's always a good idea to know who is interviewing you beforehand. This means that you can address them by name and it can help you feel more confident when you meet them. You can also look at what roles they hold and what knowledge they have, as this can help you relate to them and talk to them.
When you walk into an interview, you are effectively trying to sell yourself. This can be hard, especially if you are not used to it. You should try to define your main selling points, such as skills, qualifications, and experience. You should also think about why you want the job.
There are a lot of graduate interview questions you can expect such as the strengths and weaknesses interview questions, which can be overwhelming. You need to be clear and concise when you answer these. The key is to be sure to practice and think of answers beforehand. Some questions to prepare for are:
- Why do you want this job?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What’s your greatest strength?
You should always think of questions to ask in an interview ahead of time. Interviewers will expect you to ask questions because it shows that you have an interest in the position and the company. Plus, it can help you get a lot of useful information to show whether or not you will suit the company. Remember, an interview is also for you to figure out whether you want the job.
An interview is for an employer to figure out if they want to hire you and this means they will be looking at your weaknesses, and they could have reservations about hiring you for one reason or another. It's important to look at why they might reject you, and then make sure that you have a response to this. Try to find things that prove you are a good candidate despite the reservations they might have.
Body language says as much as your words do. If you look nervous and scared, the interviewer might think you are too shy for the job role, whereas if you look too confident, they might see this as arrogance. You should absolutely look into body language and how you want to present yourself.
Talking to an interviewer or an interview board can be scary. It's a great idea to practice in front of an audience first. Ideally, you should find a mix of friends and family, as well as co-workers or other people you don't know too well, as this will help it be a bit more realistic. Get them to ask you questions until you feel confident answering whatever is thrown your way.
Make sure that you have some references lined up for your interviewer to ask about your past work and study. This could be managers, co-workers or tutors. Have a good mix of references in case your interviewer asks for something specific. You should be sure to include how this person knows you, as this will explain why they are a suitable reference. Have a hard copy ready as well as a digital file.
Making a good first impression is important, and this includes dressing properly. If you are unsure what to wear for an interview, make sure you go for something smart and respectable looking, as this shows that you value the interviewer's time. You should pick out what you need to wear, but also make sure that it is clean and freshly ironed. Ideally, do this the night before your interview. You don't want to be doing this last minute as it can add to the stress.
Just like getting your outfit ready, you should make sure to pack your bag in advance. This takes away stress on the morning of your interview and it also makes you much less likely to forget anything. You should have your CV, cover letter, any presentations they want you to make, and your contact details. Don't forget to take some breath mints just before you enter the interview.
Travel can be stressful, especially to somewhere you haven't been before. You should check out your travel route before you go, and make sure that you know how to get to your interview. Be sure to leave plenty of time in case buses run late, or in case you get lost. If you're driving, remember to look for parking options as well.
You will have probably already sent your CV to the company, but you should still carry a copy on you just in case. You will usually find that the interviewer has printed out your CV, but you should still bring at least one copy. A good practice is to bring a copy for everyone interviewer you have, as well as one for yourself. This helps your interviewer see the vital information at a glance, plus it means you have something to refer back to if you need to remember the exact date of your past employment.
You should always try to have some kind of break before an interview. If you rush straight from something else into the interview, you will often find that you are flustered and not in the right mindset. This could be the case whether you are coming from work, university, a hobby group, or anything else.
It's polite to arrive at an interview a few minutes before it starts. This shows that you value the interviewer's time and respect the company. You might also want to make sure that you arrive a bit early, so that you have time to get comfortable in the location, and this also gives you time to get a drink, and go to the bathroom. You also want to make sure that you have contingency time in case your transport is late, as you never want to arrive rushed and stressed.
It's easier said than done, but try to relax during the interview. Interviews can be intimidating, but if you smile and relax and seem personable, you will almost certainly present yourself better. Whether you need to meditate beforehand or practice until you are confident, find a way to enter the interview room relaxed.
To Sum Up
Interviews are stressful, but you can get rid of the stress and fear with interview preparation. Try to figure out what questions to get, and work out how to answer them. Think about how to highlight your skills and practice talking to people in a formal setting. Whether it's a face-to-face interview or a distance interview, preparation makes all the difference. Be sure to look at our video interview practice for distance interviews.