How to prepare for an Interview

how to prepare for an interview

Getting an interview takes a lot of effort – you’ve got to write the perfect CV, make sure the cover letter hits the brief, pass the initial screen all to get yourself in front of the hiring manager. That means when the interview is booked, it is well worth making sure you’re maximising your chances of getting an offer.

Here are a few hints and tips that might just give you that edge and put you in pole position:

Make sure you’ve read the job description

Take it in, absorb it and get to the point where you understand as much as you can about what will be expected in the role. If you’re dealing with a recruiter make sure they’ve spent the time briefing you on the role

Research the company

This is really important – there is normally an incredible amount of information about a company that is readily available through their website. Human nature means if the interviewer asks you “what do you know about us” your natural instinct is to defer back to them hoping they’ll give you a brief effectively putting the ball in their court.

It’s a bad question to ask but if the interviewer does ask it then you need to be able to give a brief overview about what the company does, what markets they operate in, what are their features and benefits and why do you think it looks a good place to ask. We had one manager always ask a candidate what the company share price was – again, worth asking the recruiter if there are any curve balls you should be expecting!

Location / format

With times as they are, there’s a high change that the interview is going to be either phone or video based. If this is the case then make sure you’ve tested the tech. If this is the first time you’re using Hangouts, Zoom, Team or Slack then give it a test. If you’re lucky enough to get out of the house and get to the premises the make sure you know how to get there and what the transport links are like. Always aim for turning up 15-20 minutes beforehand but it’s important that you only walk into reception roughly 10 minutes prior to the start time.

Interview structure

What is going to be covered and what do you need to prepare for. This could include:

  • Technical testing
  • Whiteboarding scenarios – you’ll be given a situation / scenario and asked to plan out how you would solve it. It’s a great opportunity for you to show your way of thinking – if there are potential scenarios that you expect could come up then try and work through them at home in advance
  • Competency interview – plan for these as competency-based questions give you the opportunity to give a real life example of how you acted in a certain situation and what behaviours you demonstrated to get a positive outcome.
  • Here are a couple of links to sites that help with preparing but for me, the key is STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result
    https://www.totaljobs.com/advice/how-to-handle-competency-based-interview-questions
    https://career-advice.jobs.ac.uk/professional/how-to-be-more-than-competent-in-competency-based-interviews/
  • CV walkthrough – make sure you’ve got 2 copies printed of the latest version working off the same version and make sure you know the dates and what you did in each of your roles. When you’re thinking about the CV, focus on “I” not “We”
  • Presentations – If you are asked to do a presentation it is always best to get someone to take a look (use the agency recruiter as a sounding board as they’ll know what the client wants) and make sure you’ve practised the delivery. Content normally trumps delivery and remember, interviews are nerve wracking

First impressions

Doing a bit of research on the interviewer is a great way to ensure that you can create a good first impression. If you can find them (without becoming a stalker) on LinkedIn or other social media sites then you’ll stand a better chance of being able to strike up a conversation that finds some common ground. It’s got to be genuine though so if you aren’t a die hard Leeds Utd fan then don’t go out and buy a scarf that you can leave draped over the chair as you’re likely to get found out!

Prepare some questions

Hopefully from the website and / or job spec you’ll have some gaps that you want filled in but it’s always good to have a number of other questions that you can ask. There’s a huge amount of content out there for questions that you can ask so have a look at some of the following:

Ben Leeds
Ben Leeds
With over 20 years’ in the recruitment industry Ben has seen quite a bit and hopes that by sharing some thoughts he can help you to either hire the best person or find the right job!
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