You only get one shot at an interview, so it’s essential you prepare effectively. Here’s my top tips to help you shine on the big day 🙂

1) Prepare for common interview questions

Although this may seem like a fairly obvious tip, it’s also an important one! Knowing the popular question topics that come up in most interviews gives you the opportunity to think about your answers in advance. For example, most interviewers want to know your motivation for applying for the role and/or company. They will also want to know whether or not you have the skills and main competencies needed for the role. An example of a competency based question would be ‘Tell me about a time when you have worked in a team. What was your role and how did you get on?’ You are also likely to be asked about your strengths and weaknesses, so give some thought to what you’d like to say in response (TIP – your strengths should be key qualities needed for the role and your weaknesses should be something more trivial and trainable).

2) Make a positive first impression

We all know the phrase ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’, well this is particularly important for an interview! The interview will probably be the first face-to-face contact you have with the employer; with people making character judgements within seconds you don’t have long to create that positive impression! Interviews can be nerve-wracking and so it can feel impossible to think about making a positive first impression as well as everything else, but just keep it really simple! When you walk in to the interview room, remember to smile. Shake the interviewer(s) hand, maintain eye contact when talking to the interviewers and speak slowly and with enthusiasm. You can do it!

3) Clarify your selling points and reasons you want the job

The interview is your chance to sell yourself to the employer and demonstrate how you’re the best fit for the role. Study the job description and person specification and identify the key qualities that make you stand out from other applicants. Condense this in to a positive, concise paragraph that could answer the question ‘Why should we choose you?’ Even if they don’t ask this question, make sure you communicate this to them during the interview! You also want to think about your reasons for applying. Don’t underestimate the power of showing your enthusiasm for the role and company – employers love this and it can help you score crucial interview points! Make sure your reasons are genuine and specific – why have you applied to that company over others? Perhaps you’ve had positive interactions with them as a customer or you’ve been following them on social media and love their ethos. (TIP – if you’ve applied because of the salary or amount of holidays, DON’T say this at the interview!)

4) Consider questions to ask the employer

At the end of the interview, the interviewer is likely to ask if you have any questions for them. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity to further demonstrate your interest and motivation for the role by preparing a few smart questions in advance. Good questions topics include:
– What are the key expectations for this role during the first few months? (Shows you’re looking for insight into how to succeed in the role)
– What are the biggest opportunities/challenges facing the department at present? (Thinking ahead and demonstrating a problem-solving attitude)
– What is the typical career path for someone in this role? (Seeing this role as a important part of your wider career)
– Is this a new position or is it filling an existing role? (Demonstrates your interest in the history of the role and will give you an insight into the department set up)
– What are the next steps in the process? / When should I expect to hear from you? (Showing you’re keen, but not too keen!)
(TIP – this is not the time to ask about salary, holiday entitlement or if you’ve got the job!)

5) Don’t over prepare

Here I am giving my best tips for preparing for your interview, but I also advise clients not to over-prepare. You don’t want to get in a panic if you’ve forgotten your ‘stock’ answer or if you’re asked something you hadn’t prepared for. You might want to write a few notes or bullet points covering the main question areas and key points you want to communicate, but don’t go crazy trying to write a script or remember answers word for word. Remember, the interview is a two-way process; both you and the employer are on a fact-finding mission to determine whether you and the role are the best fit. Worst case scenario, if you’re not successful then you’ve still had a worthwhile experience which will help with future interviews and interactions with employers. So although I won’t go as far as saying you should enjoy the interview process, I would ask that you try to be relaxed enough to make the most of the opportunity. (TIP – make sure you plan your route and outfit in advance so you’re not doing any last-minute rushing on the day!)

I hope this blog post has helped you with your interview prep….let me know if you have any other top interview tips to share with fellow job seekers! 🙂