The peculiar thing about job interviews is you already know to some degree what you will be asked during the job interview. With that said, it is paramount that you prepare ahead of any job interview and practise your answers.
Your hiring manager may ask you similar questions in different ways, but the essence of these questions is the same and you can tweak your answers accordingly.
Job interview preparation is essential for making a great impression and increasing your chances of landing a job.
By researching the company, practising your answers to common interview questions, and bringing the right items to the interview, you can show that you’re prepared, engaged, and ready to take on the role. With the right preparation and mindset, you can impress the interviewer and secure the job you want.
No matter what type of interview you are doing – in person, over the phone or a video call, whether you have changed career paths or this is your first job, here are some ways to get you interview-ready.
1. Always do your research
Researching the company you are interviewing with is crucial to learn about its culture, values, and background. Read up on any recent news about the company.
Find out what their current and previous employees say about them on platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor. It is important to learn all you can about the products or services that the company produces or promotes.
Before your interview, take some time to prepare thoughtful questions. A modern company likely has social media accounts and blogs where they discuss their company culture and industry. By reading these, you can gain a better understanding of the messages that are important to them. This will help you ask more informed questions during the interview.
Demonstrate to the interviewer what you understand the business, and explain how you would fit in and add value to it.
2. Pay close attention to the job description
A job description (JD) provides information about the skills and experience required for a particular role. By reading the JD, you can get a sense of the candidate profile that the particular company is looking to hire and the specific qualifications they are looking for.
Is there a course that you can pick up online to align yourself with the JD? For instance, if it says that the ideal candidate should have a basic understanding of digital marketing, you can take introductory online courses about digital marketing on online platforms like Harvard Business School Online, LinkedIn Learning, and Coursera.
Aside from understanding the role, you can also learn a lot about the company by reading the job description. The tone and writing style can give you a sense of the company culture, especially when it is written in an informal way.
Does it use gender-coded words? Does it discriminate against certain groups of people? For instance, it may describe the work environment as “young and energetic”; that could indicate that the workforce is young.
Additionally, the JD may include an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statement that indicates a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Related: How to make a successful career change
3. Practise with common job interview questions
These are plenty of examples of common job interview questions for you to think about in advance. They can include the likes of, “Why you might be interested in this role?”, and “What drives you to succeed?”.
Practise these questions before the job interview day and be ready for the occasional, unexpected curve ball. A common interview question is, “tell me about yourself” where the interviewer is not looking for your life story but rather an answer about your work experience.
It is important to note that it is not just about your answer but how you answer questions. Sometimes, interviewers would ask you challenging, behavioural questions like asking you to provide an example of how you handled conflict in your past capacity, or to share a time where you disagreed with your previous supervisor.
Your answers to these types of questions will reveal your thought process and who you are as a person, colleague and manager.
4. Pay attention to your communication skills
The way you communicate with the hiring manager or human resources manager can affect the outcome of your job interview.
Typically, employers look for things like a warm smile, a firm handshake, good posture, and strong eye contact.
However, it is crucial to note that these may not apply if you have certain disabilities or developmental conditions. For instance, individuals with autism spectrum disorder generally avoid making eye contact. In that situation, you should inform the interviewer of your condition and not force yourself to do something you are uncomfortable with.
Do not be too casual in the way you speak, even if you feel very comfortable with the interviewers. Stay professional. However, it does not mean you cannot crack a joke where appropriate. Your emotional intelligence comes into play here: how you carry yourself, how you speak and respond under stress will give the interviewers an idea of how you will fit into their team.
When you answer a question, take a moment to process the question before answering it. This shows that you are considering and thinking through your answer instead of saying the first thing that comes to your mind.
Sometimes, you might get into a second interview where you would meet your future colleagues. Stick to the same guidelines – stay humble, especially when sharing about your previous roles or successes, and answer their questions to the best of your abilities.
5. Dress to help, not harm, your chances
When it comes to dressing for a job interview, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure your outfit is ready well in advance.
No matter the industry you are interviewing for, whether it is a professional office setting, in a retail store, or in the customer service industry, it is crucial to dress appropriately. This means being neat, tidy, and well-groomed, as well as wearing clothes that are professional and appropriate for the company you’re interviewing with.
You should also avoid eating anything that could potentially stain your outfit, such as curry, sambal chilli or other messy foods. Hiring managers are not looking for the best-dressed candidate, just someone who dresses neatly and appropriately.
You want to look polished and put-together, so be sure to iron or steam your clothes to ensure your clothes are not wrinkled.
6. Essential items to bring on interview day
When you are preparing for a job interview, it is important to make sure you have everything you need to make a good impression and show that you’re prepared. While you may be focused on preparing for the interview itself, taking the time to gather a few key items can help you feel more confident.
First and foremost, you’ll want to bring copies of your resume. You should also bring a notepad and pen to take notes during the interview, as well as any examples of your work, such as a portfolio or writing samples, if applicable.
Before the interview, be sure to research the company and come up with a few questions to ask the interviewer or hiring managers. This will show that you’re interested in the role and the company, and it can also help you learn more about the position and what it’s like to work there. You can write these questions in your notebook.
Finally, don't forget to bring your identification, such as a driver’s license or passport. This is important for verifying your identity and ensuring that you are eligible to work in the country.
By bringing these items with you to the interview, you’ll be well-prepared and ready to make a great impression.
7. Asking the right questions, at the right time
Employers want to hire people who are willing to work hard, take the initiative, and are not job hoppers. To show that you are the right fit for the team, it’s important to do your homework before the interview.
This means researching the company, learning about the role, and coming up with thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. By showing that you're engaged and interested in the position, you can impress the employer and improve your chances of getting the job.
Interviews should be an opportunity to learn more about the job, and the company to help define your own personal career goals. You should also use this opportunity to clarify any queries you have about the role. Here are some questions you could ask:
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
What are the biggest challenges that I might face in this position?
What are some key milestones the person hired will need to accomplish in the first three to six months?
What’s the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
What are the career path prospects for the role?
8. Practise the anecdotes you plan to tell
In many job interviews, you’ll be asked to provide examples of your previous professional successes and failures.
To prepare for these questions, practise the anecdotes you plan to tell. This can help you feel more confident and comfortable when answering these questions, and it can also help you refine your responses to make them more engaging and effective.
You may be asked about a variety of different topics, such as times when your quick thinking saved the day, instances when you had to work independently or as part of a team, what your previous employer liked about you, and your biggest weakness.
By practicing these anecdotes in advance, you can be ready to answer these questions in a clear, concise, and engaging way. And if you're feeling really confident, you can even try practicing with a friend or partner to simulate a real job interview and get even more practise.
9. Find out about the interviewers
Before the actual job interview, try to obtain the names of the people you will be meeting with because job interviews are a two-way street. Research each of them individually. Find out what they do at the company.
Most of the time, you may not be able to use this information during the job interview process. However, learning about the hiring manager can help to put a face and personality to the interviewer, and that can make you feel less anxious before the job interview.
Show interest in them and their roles in the company. Ask your interviewer about your co-workers and the existing team if you were to join the company. This is important as there is probably going to be teamwork in your new role.
In many cases, success at a job interview for your dream job is achieved relatively quickly. When the job interview is brought to a close, you may already have a feeling about how it went. Remain positive at this stage and be sure to ask about the next stage in the hiring process.
Be sure to let the hiring managers know that you enjoyed the job interview, that you are still keen on potentially getting the job offer and you hope for a positive outcome. Thank them for their time, and then, prepare for your next job interview if you have one using the same approach.
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