Preparation for a Job Interview
Are you currently applying for jobs and wondering what you are going to do once you have been picked for an interview? Look no further, see our guide below for the best way to prepare for an interview.
In your preparation for a job interview is a good opportunity to refine your presentation and communication skills ahead of the big day. Ensure that you research your employer of choice and having a clear view of what the job description entails, this will assist you to stand out during the selection process, but there’s more to it than that and it involves going back and learning the basic interview skills.
How to Prepare for an Interview
Do your Research
The more you prepare, the more relaxed and comfortable you will be when you are being interviewed. The following offers a few tips and suggestions on how to prepare for a job interview for your interview preparation.
Before the job interview, it is a good idea to gather information about the organisation that you are interviewing for, and try to relate your experience to the specific duties of the job available. You can research the company online for more information, and view their website for more detailed insight into what they do and what their values and purposes are.
Research the industry as well, and find out about any recent developments, trends, and changes. Don’t forget to also find out as much as possible about the role. You can do this by reviewing the job description, company social media accounts, and their website.
Before the interview think about how you want to present yourself.
How are you planning to introduce yourself in a job interview? Have a think and practice on how you are going to talk through your ‘story’.
Have you had a thought about what your answers might be? Grab a friend and a list of commonly used questions in an interview and practice how you would answer the questions and what body language you will use.
If you don’t have a friend that could assist you video record your sessions. While practicing try to eliminate the verbal fillers such as “uh” and “um”.
Pre-Prepare for the interview such as laying out your clothes the night before, ensuring your resume is printed out and you have directions as to have to get to the interview location.
When picking out your clothes for the interview, make sure you look the part. If you are interviewing for a position in an office you want to ensure that you are looking professional. Ideally a business suit. If you are interviewing for a manufacturing or labouring role you need to either be wearing neat casual if the role is in an office, or if you are interviewing on-site you need to be wearing a Hi-Vis top, long pants, and steel cap boots.
Know your salary expectations
You should be prepared for the daunting question of “What are your salary expectations?” this is a question that a lot of people struggle to answer with confidence. Prepare for this type of question by researching typical salaries, considering if benefits could compensate for some of the salary, checking your expectations with a recruiter, and practicing your answer.
During the Interview
Make a good first impression
When you hop out of your car in preparation to go into the interview you will be on show. Ensure that you look professional and presentable. Have confidence in the way that you walk and be polite to everyone you meet, including the receptionist and passing-by employees as these could be the people that you will be working with.
While waiting for your interview you want to ensure that you are not scrolling through your phone. Your phone should be switched off by this point, or left in your car. Instead have a look around you, are there any posters on show that tell you more about the organisation? Or any marketing materials that you could flick through that tell you a bit more about the company you are about to interview for?
You want to arrive on time – being 10 minutes early is best. But don’t be too early. During non COVID times when you meet your interviewer you want to offer a firm (but not bone-crunching) handshake and a big smile can do wonders. You will also want to make polite chit-chat from the reception area to the interview room as this helps make a good first impression.
Be aware of your body language
Your body language and other forms of non-verbal communication are important elements in the way that you perform. By preparing yourself before the interview it can assist you in helping to appear relaxed and confident rather than looking and feeling quite nervous.
We suggest that you sit up straight, lean forward slightly, and maintain good eye contact with the interviewer or the panel. Try not to cross your arms in front of your body or have your head tilted down as this can appearing stand-offish and lacking confidence. Looking disinterested will limit your options.
If you are offered a drink this can be helpful later in your interview as this can be used as a proper to give you some time to answer a difficult question. By accepting the drink it shows that you a fairly confident and reasonably relaxed. Just remember to ask if you can put the cup in the dishwasher for your interviewer at the end of the interview or ask where you could dispose of the cup if it is plastic/paper.
Answering Interview Questions
When answering questions answer honestly, directly, and keep to the point, and always treat the interview as a two-way discussion. Everyone present will be focusing their attention on you, so ensure that you are answering the question without using jargon or diverting your answer to something that is not relevant. If you are not certain about a particular question, do not be afraid to ask if it can be rephrased. Listen, never interrupt and answer only what is asked.
There are common questions that arise in the majority of job interviews, and while you should prepare for these, try not to rehearse answers that are too precise. We suggest that a better approach is to work on broad subject areas that are likely to come up during the interview and don’t forget to read the room and tailor your answers to this as well.
Common interview questions include:
General background – Often the very first question is a request for a summary of your background. If you are applying for your first job focus on your extra-curricular activities, education, and qualification. It is acceptable to repeat major points that you have outlined in your resume or letter of application.
Qualifications – A specific question that is often asked as to “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” Qualifications can include your educational, employment-related, and personal qualifications.
Experience – Here is where your research can pay off. Your answer should include detail about relevant employment, community or educational experience, the organisation, and the position itself.
Reasons for Applying – Your answer should describe what you find appealing about the position, how you prepared yourself for a career in the organisation, and how you believe your present job equips you for the position in question.
Career Objectives – Think of what your future career aspirations are and show that you are taking action towards reaching your end goal.
Crisis Management – In some organisation, employers give candidates questions design to test their ability in situations of crisis. You should try to research what a common type of dilemma can be for employees in the role you have applied for and formulate an intelligent response
Here are some tips on how to answer the questions:
- Review your research about the company and the position
- Think of examples from your previous roles that can demonstrate how you deal with different situations
- The STAR Technique (Situation – Task – Action – Result) can help you think of examples:
Situation – Describe a situation you have been in. For example, a deadline that had been missed
Task – Tell them what you decided to do. For example, called the client and/or manager to explain the error
Action – Describe what you did. For example, explain how you would rectify the error and present a new deadline.
Result – Tell them what happened as a result of your actions. For example, client appreciated the owning up to an error and having a new plan put in place to ensure no further deadlines would be missed.
- Practice using examples so that you are very familiar with them.
This is also a good strategy when you a faced with an unexpected interview question that you are unsure as to how to answer. After all, there is usually one question that you may not have been prepared for.
‘Do you have any questions for us?’
At the end of the interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own. At this time be confident when asking your questions and use them to score additional points in your favour.
- Why is the position available?
- What training and induction will be given?
- What prospects are there for personal and professional development?
- What are the company’s plans for the future?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- What do you like best about working at the company?
- What are your goals for the department?
End of the Interview
You made it! You have now finished your interview, smile and thank the people involved for taking the time to meet with you. While decisions and job offers are usually made some time after the interview(s), should an offer of employment be made, ask whether this offer would be confirmed in writing. Also, it is not unreasonable to request a short period to consider and read over the offer before formally accepting it in writing.
Preparing for a job interview can take up some time but taking the time to understand the process, how to answer job interview questions, and how to present yourself in the best possible way. Taking this time to prepare can have a positive impact on your success, so it is well worth your effort.
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