You’ve been invited for an interview and you’re excited that you may be about to actually afford to shop for once without the help of your good friend Klarna. Then it hits you, the realisation that you’ve accepted an invitation to be
interrogated interviewed. An hour of talking about yourself in the way your Nan does when she boasts about you to her friends, getting grilled on your skills, weaknesses and future plans all whilst sitting with body language that evokes the confidence of Jeffrey, Jeffrey Bezos.
As a temporary recruitment agency, we can’t say that it’s the most joyful experience that you’ll ever have but it is something that everybody has to go through; even the people who are interviewing you will have once sat in the same seat feeling the same nerves. However, the key to a successful interview is preparation and our resident recruitment gurus are here with a jam-packed list of how to best prepare for an interview…
Nobody enjoys being interviewed by a total stranger, in a 2020 survey from JDP, 93% of candidates said that they had anxiety before or during their job interview. However, the interviewers know that it’s not an easy experience and moreover, they expect nerves and all the physical attributes that accompany them; shaking, talking fast, sweaty palms and mixing up words are totally normal.
The more you prepare, the less nervous you will be and after the first initial questions, you should feel much calmer than when you first arrived. Like many things, it’s often much worse in your head than it is in reality!
By the time that you get to the interview, you should have a firm grasp on what the company actually does, its purpose, story and future goals along with a clear understanding of what is expected for the role. The best way that you can get this information is on their website and social media channels.
Top Tip: Use flashcards to write down key facts and figures about the company which could be useful when answering one of the most common interview questions: “why do you want to work here?”.
If the job description doesn’t provide enough information on what exactly the role entails, you have two options:
1 – Visit Prospects and look through their job profiles to find one that closely matches the role you’ve applied for.
2 – Search for the exact job title on Indeed and read through a more in-depth brief from another company.
When doing this, take note of the listed essential and desirable skills, if they ask you another common interview question “what are your key strengths?” then be sure to use some of their listed strengths within your answer but only if they are true, of course!
Industry knowledge may not be necessary for every role. However, if you’re applying for a management level role within a specific industry, it may be worthwhile to Google some recent industry facts, figures or news and take note. It’s always impressive when a candidate takes a genuine interest in the industry which the company operates in.
Firstly, take a look at some of the most common interview questions and write down how you would answer them. We suggest using your former English teacher’s favourite thing, the Point Evidence Explain technique, to structure your sentences in a concise and professional manner.
Once you have written your answers down, start to learn them off by heart and alter if needed to make them sound more natural when you speak. Do this over and over again until it becomes embedded in your brain like a TikTok trend. Many people practice the delivery of their answers in front of a mirror, it’s a little cliché but assessing your body language to ensure that you appear confident in what you are saying helps to perfect your pitch!
Don’t forget that this is your opportunity to interview the employer. You have to make sure that the job is right for you just as much as they have to make sure that you are right for the job. Prepare some questions that you want to ask beforehand and have a good think of what you really want to know. Here are some common questions that candidates ask during an interview:
a. How would you describe a typical day in this position?
b. What are the greatest challenges of the job?
c. What is one of the main goals a person in this position must achieve?
d. What are the company’s plans for the future and how, if at all, do you see this role changing?
Every time that you attend an interview, you should have a few copies of your latest CV to distribute in case those who are interviewing don’t have one to hand. Ensure that these are kept in a plastic wallet inside a professional folder, presentation is everything when it comes to interviews!
Depending on the role you’ve applied for, you may want to bring along a portfolio with examples of your work. Be prepared for the interviewer to ask to keep the portfolio, although it’s perfectly fine to say that you’ll send a digital copy across after the interview.
The answer to this totally depends on the job, industry and company, turning up to an interview in an international law firm with jeans and a t-shirt won’t cut the mustard but neither would turning up suited and booted to a construction site. However, according to a report from Job Description Library, 55% of employers expect interviewees to dress smart-casual.
Ensure that you are well groomed for your interview and always check the weather forecast, turning up like you’ve been submerged into the Atlantic is never a good look.
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety for a job interview is by ensuring you know exactly where the office is, how you’re going to get there and most importantly, how long it takes. Whether you take a digital road trip on Google Maps or do a test run in your car, on the bus or on the train, it’s a great way to reduce nerves and gives you a good idea of how much time you need to set aside to travel to your interview.
Ensure that you take note of any potential road closures, bus routes or organised train strikes. We suggest that however long it takes, add a good thirty minutes to the journey on the day of your interview, leaving you plenty of time to relax and get some last-minute preparation in.
Job interviews typically last between 45 minutes to 1 hour, so ensure that if you’re parking, then you put plenty of time on your ticket.
Turning up to an interview half an hour early might seem like a sound idea to make a great first impression but it can be less than ideal for the interviewer. The optimum time is around ten minutes before, allowing the interviewer to wrap up their current task and for you to settle in.
In this time, remember to take deep breaths and relax. Resist temptation to go on your phone, it’s not a professional look. Instead, look for any company brochures that may be in the waiting area.
When it’s time for your interview, greet your interviewer with a smile and strong handshake, but only if they offer first. Since the pandemic, some companies have dropped this long-standing tradition for a more casual approach.
It can be nerve-wracking at first but remember your deep breaths and everything will come naturally. Once you have completed your interview, thank your interviewers for their time and tell them that you look forward to hearing from them.
It’s likely that they will manage expectations by giving you an approximate time and date that you can expect to hear back from them.
Congratulations! The employer will send a contract through for you to read over (extra carefully) and sign once happy. It’s only once you’ve signed it that we’d suggest you hand your notice into your current employer if you have one.
That’s ok, remember, the job market is extremely competitive and it’s almost impossible to be successful in every interview. You can respond by thanking them again for their time and asking for some feedback, although many companies don’t offer this anymore due to the sheer amount of interviews that they undertake.
Attending interviews can only be a good thing, it builds your confidence and skills in interviews and will help you to narrow down exactly what type of job role and company you want.