No matter how experienced you are, and no matter how many interviews you have been to, they pretty much always guarantee sweaty palms and a dry mouth.
And they change too. The types of questions asked. Recruiter expectations. Social media means they know more about you before you even arrive than ever before.
While you can never prepare for an interview 100%, because you never know what curveball they’re going to throw at you, you can follow some general guidelines to make sure you deliver the best impression you can each and every time.
With information so accessible today, it means potential employers expect a lot more from you. There is no excuse not to have done your research – into the company you’re going to see, the interviewer, and in to the competition and the industry. And they’ll likely have done their research too, and had a good nosey at your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles… and maybe even found you on Facebook (so make sure your public pictures and posts are decent!). Check out our post on How to Market Yourself on Social Media.
Here are the seven surefire steps to take to help you prepare for an interview and ensure you’re ready for that big moment…
- Do your research. Visit the company website and learn how they talk about themselves and their positioning. Read their recent news, and make sure to check out the competition and brush up on what’s happening in their industry.
- Make sure you know who is interviewing you! Memorize their names, and take a look at their LinkedIn profiles and Twitter feeds if they have them. If you want to go the extra mile, take a look at their personality profile on Crystal. They’ll likely have dug around about you too so be prepared to talk about recent posts, common connections and opinions you may have aired.
- Don’t assume the interviewer will have a copy of your CV – always take one with you, along with your portfolio. If your portfolio is online, take a laptop or tablet so you can present it to them.
- Body language 101 – you may know a lot of this but we’re creatures of habit so reminders always help. That first impression – it’s true that you form an opinion abut someone in the first couple of seconds of meeting them! So a warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake are vital. When they ask you how your journey or morning went, ask them a question back. It’s a good ice-breaker and will help ease your nerves to get them talking about themselves. Once you’re in the interview room, remember to sit up straight and keep good eye contact. Try not to fidget or play with your hair, necklace, tie etc. And maintain a relaxed, open posture, so avoid crossing your arms and legs; keep your hands on the table or have a notebook out and a pen in hand if it helps you to relax.
- Don’t over talk! Just answer the question and then stop for the interviewer to respond. It’s too easy to chatter away to fill any awkward void, but you risk ruining a good answer or repeating yourself, which can make the interviewer feel you lack confidence.
- Make sure you can back up any big claims you make – if you’re worried about your mind going blank during the interview then make a list of your best achievements in the back of your notebook so you can refer to them if you need to.
- “Do you have any questions…?” – the signal that the interview is coming to an end, and where we all naturally breathe a sigh of relief… but this is in fact one of the most crucial parts of the interview! Don’t make the mistake of asking about the holiday package, pension scheme or the salary. Ask intelligent questions, like how the company is approaching certain changes in the market / industry, or how they think your skill set could help add value to the company. Make sure you prepare some questions before you go into the interview.
With this preparation, all you can do now is be yourself. Be honest, don’t be afraid to let a little nervousness show through, and don’t try and be someone you’re not. You’ll be working with these people every day should you be successful, so they need to know the real you from the start.