Wondering how to prepare for a job interview? You are in the right place, my friend! Interview preparation is one of the most important parts of the process and can make or break your chances of securing your dream job.
Effective preparation can not only help ensure that you present your best self in an interview, it can also make it easier to get those pesky interview nerves under control. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel and the less likely you will be to let your nerves affect your performance.
There are a number of things that you can do to prepare for an interview and in this post I am going to walk you through, step by step, how to make sure that you are as ready as you can be for your meeting. I know it seems like there is a lot to do, but the extra couple of hours effort prior to your interview could be the thing that gets you an offer. You can also grab your handy checklist by clicking on the below image, just so that you don't forget any of these crucial interview preparation steps!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
You have probably heard this piece of advice when trying to find out how to prepare for a job interview; before you go into an interview you should do your research. Look up the company on the internet, go to their website and make sure that you can comfortably explain their core purpose. One thing a lot of people miss is expanding their search to find out when the business has appeared in the news. This could be for court cases, support of local community, acquisitions, sales results, studies, technological advancement, controversy or something else entirely. It is important that you are aware of these events so that if they are brought up in interview you can answer questions or hold up your end of a discussion. If the firm you are interviewing with has recently released some kind of report, research or industry article, ensure that you have read this and have at least a basic understanding of it. Finding out about the company's media presence will not only help you prepare for your interview, but may also help you decide if this is actually the company you want to work for!
I have been in interviews where candidates have confidently confessed that my company was their dream employer, yet on further prompting, I learned that they hadn't done their research and weren't able to substantiate their claims. They weren't able to demonstrate an understanding of our business' purpose and weren't aware that we had been in the media as the major sponsor of a high profile event. This became embarrassing for all parties and is something I think we would have all preferred to avoid. I get it, you want a job, but if you want a job with me, you will need to prove it.
2. STUDY THE DOCUMENTATION
If you haven't already received a position description, you may wish to request one if it is available. This will give you the opportunity to further understand the duties and responsibilities of the role you are interviewing for. You will also get a better idea about how performance is measured and if there are any key selection criteria. If a position description is not available (or you forgot to request one) I would suggest you refer back to the job advertisement and study it carefully. The position description or job advertisement can give you an insight into the types of questions you will be asked in your interview and can also provide you with some ideas about the questions that you may choose to ask your interviewer. For example, you may want to ask a question to clarify information provided in these documents.
Follow these 9 easy-to-implement steps to prepare for your next interview!
3. GO BACK AND REVIEW YOUR OWN APPLICATION
You have written it yourself and you know what is in there, but it is always a good idea to go back and review your application and refresh your memory about the examples that you have provided. Whilst it is totally okay to reuse those examples in your interview, I would also have some other examples up your sleeve to allow for some extra variety for both yourself and the interview panel.
4. PRE-EMPT AND PREPARE FOR A RANGE OF INTERVIEW QUESTIONS THAT MAY BE ASKED
By referring back to the position description or job advertisement, looking at key selection criteria or requirements of the role, you may be able to anticipate some of the questions you will be asked. This is never an exact science as there is no standardised questioning for interviews and different interviewers will use their preferred techniques to obtain the information that they require. Whilst you may not be able to pre-empt the question word for word, it is likely that you will be asked questions covering the areas outlined in the position documentation or advertisment. If you are applying for a role with a government agency or council, you will find that the key selection criteria is prominent in the recruitment process and will provide a more solid foundation for the questions being asked in interview. Prepare some responses, coming up with examples that you can draw upon from your own career history.
5. PREPARE SOME BROADER EXAMPLES
You can never anticipate all of the questions you will be asked, so have some broader examples ready to go, that you can manipulate to suit various questions. In the Australian Public Service, the key selection criteria are usually fairly similar and cover the topics of:
- Strategic direction
- Achieving results
- Building productive relationships
- Communicating with influence
- Personal drive and integrity
- Technical knowledge/job specific skills
If you have some extra examples ready, you can alter the focus slightly to respond to each of these question types. For example, if you are asked about team work, you would focus on the team element of your example. If asked about your communication skills, the same example could come in handy if you change your focus and talk specifically about how you communicated with others on the project.
Keep in mind, I am not suggesting that you alter and repeat the same example throughout your interview, but instead I am advocating having some generic responses available to you in your mental interview toolbox that you can pull out, manipulate and share if you need them!
6. PERSONAL PRESENTATION
We talked about personal presentation in depth in my last post so I don't want to spend ages rehashing that information. This is just a reminder not to leave things to chance or to the last minute. If you have an interview coming up, make sure you prepare in advance, ensure your outfit is clean and ironed and that the rest of your personal presentation is on point so you aren't stressing out on the day of your interview!
7. MENTAL PREPARATION
You are looking hot, you have plenty of workplace examples to share and you have done all of your research, but something is not quite right. You are so nervous. It's not your typical "butterflies in the tummy" scenario, but instead feels like your stomach is turning itself inside out and you can't stop thinking of ways that you could bomb in your interview! This feeling is totally normal and will vary in intensity from person to person, but to perform your best at interview you need to get these unhelpful feelings in check!
There are a number of ways you can mentally prepare for an interview - meditation, mantras, power posing and practice are just a few. Work out what YOU respond to. If you are sensitive to caffeine, lay off the coffee before your interview. If listening to music relaxes you, pop some tunes on and chill out. My favourite way to calm down before an interview is to remind myself that I don't NEED to get the job. And this is relevant in most cases. You might want it... you might want it really bad! But in the grand scheme of things it won't be the end of the world if you miss out on this particular opportunity.
Mental preparation is just as important, if not more important that all of the other points in this post, so make sure you spend some time thinking about how you will mentally prepare for your job interview.
Scripted responses aren't cool, but you should definitely anticipate your interview questions!
8. MAKE SURE YOUR PORTFOLIO IS UP TO DATE
If you have been following my blog for a while, you will probably have heard me talking about building a portfolio. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it here. If you have a job interview on the horizon, do yourself a favour and update (or create) your portfolio. Don't have time to pull a whole portfolio together? Perhaps you have a few key pieces of evidence you could refer to in your interview.
Now, I just want to put a little warning in here. As much as I love portfolios, I hate it when people abuse them. For that reason, I have this one major piece of advice: DON'T BE CREEPY WITH YOUR PORTFOLIO! What do I mean by this? Have your portfolio ready, refer to it, but please don't shove it down my throat! If I am not interested, leave it at that. Being pushy or forcing your portfolio onto your interviewers won't do you any favours.
9. PREPARE YOUR QUESTIONS
At the end of (almost) every interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions and you should really take advantage of that opportunity. Let me be clear though, you should prepare your questions in advance, you should ensure their relevance AND you should limit the number of your questions to an absolute maximum of 3. You don't want to interview your interviewer!
So that's 9 solid tips about how to prepare for a job interview and I can promise you from experience (as an interviewer and a candidate) that they really do work! Don't forget to pick up your FREE Interview Preparation checklist - you can get that baby by clicking on the image below - and let me know if you have any other tips for getting ready for an upcoming interview!