Tips for a Successful Job Interview
Feeling nervous about your interview? Preparation is key!
Regardless of how far into your career you are, interviews can be very daunting. This guide offers plenty of advice on how to succeed in your interview; giving some helpful tips to fully prepare yourself. You may have a face-to-face interview, a phone interview, or even a video interview; regardless, it’s best to be well-prepared and create a strong first impression.
An interview gives your employer a great chance to see if you are the right person for the role, but it’s also an opportunity for you to make sure the company is right for you.
HOW TO PREPARE BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
This includes your knowledge of the company, the role, and how you suit it. You should even consider organising your travel well in advance to reduce stress on the day. Here are some top tips to set yourself up for a successful interview.
Research the company in advance
Thorough research on the company is vital. You may be asked what you already know about the company, so it is important to know what the company does, its history, what they have achieved recently, and the sector they are in. An in-depth knowledge will impress, giving you an advantage over other interviewees. Check out the company’s social media, competitors, reputation, and any mutual connections you might have. You could research your interviewers and important board people as well. This encourages more meaningful and insightful conversations, and you won’t be as nervous about asking questions about the company.
Read the job description, remind yourself about how your skills and qualifications fit the role
Study the job description and note the required skills, qualities, and experience. Before you can demonstrate to your interviewer why you’d be a great hire, you need to know what they’re looking for. Make sure you know what is on your CV and remind yourself of your achievements and experience.
Transparency is key here, be open and honest about your skillset, expectations, and your current situation.
Read up on recent news/trends in the sector
Reading the headlines before your interview will help you come across as well-informed about the sector. This shows you are enthusiastic about the industry, up to date on current events, and even gives you an opportunity for a conversation starter.
Prepare answers for common interview questions
Usually, you’ll be asked to tell interviewers about yourself, identify your strengths, and weaknesses, and what you can bring to the company. Be clear about what attracted you to the company in the first place and why you would like to work there. It may be useful to be clear about your salary expectations if this is brought up, or even reasons why you might be leaving your current job.
You also might want to consider instances of when you might have encountered a business-related challenge or an idea of where you might see yourself in 5 years’ time. Be prepared with examples of your work too. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments and be confident in your strengths. This is also useful to consider when asked about any of your weaknesses, it’s great to show that you are self-aware, but turn them into a positive.
Answer questions using the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result). This is a great method for structuring answers to questions about your skills, qualities, and experiences with real impact.
Practice your answers with family or friends
Ask a friend to help practice answering questions and being able to confidently tell your story and best explain why you are a great candidate for the role. Rehearsing your interview makes a huge difference and getting honest feedback from close ones will help you improve.
Prepare to ask questions!
Planning a list of questions to ask at the end of your interview is a good idea. This shows that you’re well prepared and will make you feel at ease, knowing you have lots of things to talk about if you’re put on the spot. Questions could range from asking about the company culture, what an average day looks like, or the technical nature of the work itself. This is an opportunity to learn more about the position and show interest. It will benefit you to find out more, helping you consider if the company is right for you.
Prepare anything you need to bring to the interview
It is important to understand the format of the interview and prepare as necessary. Personal documents such as your ID are a must. A copy of your resume or portfolio in a folder may be useful here. It may be a good idea to bring a printed copy of your references’ contact details or reference letters too in case the interviewer brings up the subject. Find an appropriate bag to neatly contain all your items so you can still look professional.
If it’s a virtual interview, have everything set up beforehand; try to ensure a constant internet connection and that you are in a quiet, uninterrupted space.
Prepare to be early
Organise your travel well in advance and prepare your interview attire the night before. Make sure you are punctual at your interview; you don’t want to make a bad impression – be 10 minutes early! This will help to mentally prepare yourself and save yourself from rushing around the next morning.
DURING THE INTERVIEW: HOW TO MAKE A GREAT FIRST IMPRESSION
First impressions matter! This means you should dress appropriately (even for a video interview), arrive early, introduce yourself, and be polite to everyone you meet. Not only does this make a good first impression, but it will help calm your nerves for when the interview begins.
Be aware of your body language
Non-verbal communication is key – your body language says a lot. Start by offering to shake the interviewer’s hand to greet them and remember to maintain good eye contact throughout the interview. Keep good posture by sitting up straight, also, smiling and occasionally head nodding will show that you are engaged in the conversation.
Remember, nerves are normal but slouching, no eye contact, or crossing your arms are signs of disinterest and lack of care.
Clarity and Confidence
Listen closely to the questions, pause before answering to give yourself time, and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat or explain further if you do not understand a question. Answer the questions clearly and concisely evidencing both your skills and experiences, remembering to remain confident in your ability. If you are taking part in a group interview, remember to consider others throughout – but don’t be afraid to speak up.
Most importantly, be yourself. Personality can’t be taught, and employers want to see if you have both the experience and the attitude, so being enthusiastic and professional can never go a miss.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Once your interview is complete, thank the interviewer before you go, leaving a good lasting impression. It may be a good idea to ask what the next steps in the interview process may be, so you know what to expect. When you leave you could follow up with a thank you email to your interviewer, thanking them for their time; this reaffirms your interest.
If you are offered the job, you will then be able to discuss when you will start and find out further information such as what you will need to do on your first day.
If you are unsuccessful in the interview, follow up and ask for feedback to learn from, be positive, and remember that this is a good experience and will build your resilience.
So, there you go, our top tips on the interview process.
Prepare, be transparent, and believe in yourself!
Interviews can be extremely daunting but being prepared will always help ease that anxiety. Remember, you’ve been offered an interview for a reason so make sure you prove you’re the right candidate for the role by reminding them of your skillset, qualifications, and professionalism.
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We have created a free Student Space Sector Guide which includes plenty more interview tips and career advice, as well as opportunities to gain valuable experience that will help your you excel in your future career in the BEST industry!