Interview Preparation Guide

Okay, so you’ve scored an interview with one of the greatest companies on the planet. You’re so excited that you’ve already pictured yourself working there: smiling, happy and blissfully content.

But there is still one more hurdle to overcome before you set up your new desk: the dreaded job interview.

Gulp.

To get you through this challenge we’ve prepared the essential interview preparation guide so not only will you blitz the interview, but you’ll have fun doing it too. Read on to discover our simple tips to wow the crowd at your next job interview.

Tip #1: Know your stuff

So you love the company. You think it is amazing, incredible and inspirational. But what exactly do you love about it? Is it the acclaimed board of directors? The company’s stance on environmental ethics? Their fantastic products and services? Or maybe just their great company culture?

Knowing what you like (and even dislike) about the company you’re interviewing with is fundamental. A job interview is often the largest financial transaction you will ever make and should be treated as such. Make sure that you put in the effort and research that a transaction of this size warrants.

Showing that you understand the company’s products, services and culture is vital for making a positive impression in your interview. It will help you stand out from the crowd and show that you’re serious about the role.

Hint: for extra brownie points, make sure you mention any recent news items or articles the business was featured in, as well as refer to any social media posts they might have made. Yes, Facebook just became your homework.

Tip #2: Prepare your responses to standard interview questions

Although the interview is a time for you to gather facts and information to determine whether you would like to work with an organization, you should always remember that your first goal is to secure a job offer.

With this in mind, you should be mindful of your responses to interview questions. When you’re doing your preparation, as yourself ‘how would I feel if someone said this to me?’ Often, it’s not so much what you say, but how it comes across that’s important. Consider how the response makes you feel – if it comes across as negative in any way, then you need a better answer.

While you can’t predict every question that an interviewer throws your way, there are still a few that you can guess. Ones like: ‘Tell us about yourself’ and ‘What can you bring to the company?’ are pretty standard and should be prepared for.

You should also expect some questions about your strengths and weaknesses as well as what appeals to you about the role you’re applying for. Be prepared to discuss your previous work history in detail and why you left each position.

Answer any difficult or tricky questions with confidence. For example, if you’re asked about a gap in your resume, you shouldn’t hesitate with your response. Be proud of the journey that has led you to where you are today and instill confidence in the interviewer.

Sites like Monster are great to get a consolidated bunch of common interview questions. From here, you can either write your answers down or practice answering them out loud – whichever way works best for you. Or why not enlist the help of a buddy? They can pretend to be the interviewer and let you know how natural and professional your responses are.

A good trick is to use “I” instead of “we” when you’re describing your skills and capabilities, and to research ‘behaviour-based interview questions’ online, in particular the ‘STAR’ technique.

And although you may get some left field questions such as, ‘If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?’ you can tackle these by remaining true to your personality. Inject some of you into your responses so the interviewers walk away knowing not just what you’ve done, but who you are.

Have fun with both the interview itself and the preparation, after all if you get through this step you’ll soon be working with these people. Prepare intelligent questions for the client and show that you have done your research.

For more information and a 1:1 interview preparation session, ask your TalentSphere Staffing Solutions consultant.

Tip #3: Look the part

One of the easiest parts of the interview preparation process is your presentation. This is something that you have complete control over and should use to your advantage.

Some basic guidelines are to ensure that you’re clean, tidy and well presented. Your outfit should be ironed and your hair neat and orderly. Men should be clean-shaven and all shoes should be polished. Your cell phone should be turned off and you shouldn’t be carrying cumbersome items with you.

All in all, you really just want to look professional and well groomed. Your appearance shouldn’t be what stands out (unless you’re a spitting image of Angelina Jolie or George Clooney), instead it should just be another aspect of ‘you’ that is equally as complimentary as your personality and experience.

Tip #4: Know what you want

I’m assuming that in part, you’re applying for this job because you actually want to earn a decent living. If this is the case, and you’re not actually a secret millionaire looking to pass the days somewhere fun, then you’ll need to have a figure in mind for what salary you will accept.

Often, the interviewer will ask you directly what your salary expectations are. While you can give a response like ‘It really depends on the role and company I’m working for’ to get out of answering it, it’s probably better to be honest with them. Offer what you believe is a fair and reasonable figure, with a little room for negotiation. If you are working with a recruitment agency, make sure you have discussed your salary expectations upfront. Your agency will be able to advise you on how best to handle this question if it comes up in the interview.

If you also need flexible working hours or any other benefits, make sure you mention this up front too. You can leave a lot of it until they’ve actually offered you the job, but if it’s something non-negotiable then mention it in the interview.

Don’t forget to find out what they can offer you as well. Too often we overlook the fact that the interview is a two-way street, where both parties are trying to determine whether the situation is beneficial. Remember to consider your wants and needs and consider whether this is the right role and business for you.

Tip #5: Keep your eye on the prize

The goal of the interview is to either secure a job offer, or to get to the next stage of the interview process. Therefore, don’t worry about the consequences of accepting the job during the interview process. Save this for when you have the offer in front of you. You can worry about the details, the resignation process and telling your significant other you have taken a job on the other side of town AFTER you have been given the job offer and decide to move forward!

Make sure too that you maintain the same enthusiasm and professionalism after the interview. A good way to do this is to send a follow-up thank you note. Have it triple checked by your consultant or friend – too many have missed out because of simple typos in the thank you note.

And last but not least, practice. You might feel silly talking to yourself in the mirror, or wandering around the house answering interview questions, but all that practice will translate to a stress-free and calm interview experience.

It all boils down to a simple formula: do the groundwork, have fun, be yourself and do the best you can. The rest will fall into place.

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